Wiki Life: Planning a Great Article

You have a great idea. You want to share it with the community. But will anyone read it?

A little bit of planning can be the difference between a good idea and a great article that will help the community. Here are a few tips for writing great articles.

1. What's the goal of the article?
2. Know your audience (reader)
3. Should it be one article or multiple (linked) articles?
4. Pre-Prepare everything (screen shots, code examples, videos, and the articles content)
5. Keep your article simple and get straight to the point
6. Use clear headings, short paragraphs and simple sentences
7. Write it out, read it through, spell check it, then try to condense it
8. Keep the formatting simple
9. Know the standard

Think carefully about the information you are trying to share. Write it down as one or more bullet points (try to keep them to just a few). Refer to these points as you write your article. Anything that doesn't support these points should be removed.

Who is the intended audience for your article? What will they be looking for? Are they business users? Analysts? Technical people? Think about what these people are like and what they'll be looking for.

Write your article in way that the reader (audience) will find easy to understand. Use words (language) your readers will be familiar with.

You've got of a great subject to write about, but it is complex, very long, or has multiple concepts. Perhaps it would be better to write several articles, with each article containing one idea, linking them together with a See Also section? This may make your articles faster and easier to read through.

Prepare everything for your article in advance. Take screen shots and save them to a folder. Write and test any code examples. Save sample files to the TechNet Gallery. Write out the article contents in a text editor, leaving spaces (or markers) for images and examples.

Doing this will help you plan the articles structure (the sentences and paragraphs, where code and pictures will be inserted, additional links, etc.). Planning your articles structure gives you time to consider the placement of text, pictures and examples.

People are short on time. We search for information because we need to know something. Keep your article short and to the point; give the reader only what they need.

Keep paragraphs short. Stick to one idea per sentence. Use headings that tell the story of your article. Doing this will make your article faster and easier to read.

Write your article in a text editor. Read it out aloud. Does it make sense? Was it easy to read? Can it be shortened? Is the spelling correct?

If you can, leave it for a day, then come back and read it again. Does it still make sense? Does it clearly convey the subject you are writing about?

Simple formatting is easy to read. Keep to standard styles. Keep the use of styles as limited as possible.

Finally, know the current Wiki standards. There are many useful articles that provide guidance on content, structure, standards, formatting and more. Get to know them.

See Also:

TechNet Wiki: Getting Started
Wiki: User Experience Guidelines  *A really good article to read before getting starting
What Makes a Great Article

Comments (31)

  1. Great post Matthew. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Matthew, all I can say is, “Amen!”
    I especially like tip # 2. That is one of the primary reason why I provide writing descriptions, screenshots and videos for my aritcles because readers absorb material differently.

  3. Matthew, with your many Gold medals, actually you’re one of the best writes on the WIKI!

  4. Naomi N says:

    Very nice tips!

  5. Durval Ramos says:

    A well structured and objective article makes the reader back more often in the article. In some cases, the reader begins to monitor all content that this author creates.

    Great post Matthew

  6. Luigi Bruno says:

    Excellent and useful guide, Matthew. Good job!

  7. Thanks for all the really nice comments guys!

  8. Dan, I completely agree with you. Knowing your audience, and writing in a style that suits them, is really important. I think you do great job with all of your screen shots and videos!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Must say nice post Matthew.Few points which every body knows but forget it .I will surely keep your article in parallel when creating a wiki post

  10. Great Post and Congrats on the first post !!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Pingback from Blog x TechNet Wiki ??? Diferen??as na publica????o de um artigo | Ana Paula de Almeida

  12. Pete Laker says:

    Thanks Matt, great summary!

  13. Anonymous says:

    As a general rule, people come to the Wiki looking for specific information, with a limited amount of

  14. Anonymous says:

    As a general rule, people come to the Wiki looking for specific information, with a limited amount of

  15. Davut EREN says:

    Perfect article. I will translate for Turkish Language. Thank you

  16. Anonymous says:

    Ctrl+C and Ctrl-X are one of the most used key combinations on my keyboard (only just out ranked by Ctrl

  17. Anonymous says:

    There is a saying, "A picture is worth a 1000 words". I'm sure you've heard the idea

  18. Anonymous says:

    This blog is a follow up to our last list of Wiki Ninja Blog Authors: Council Spotlight: Who are the

  19. Anonymous says:

    Using code, markup or command examples in your Wiki articles can be very helpful to readers. Examples

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hello Community!
    Today is Wiki Life and I’ll talk about the Blog for TechNet Wiki (Wiki Ninjas

  21. Anonymous says:

    Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts about writing good articles. It’s been a while since

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hello most valuable Wiki family,
    I am calling Wiki family because we are really very big family. In

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