13 Rules That Will Make You A Better News Writer

Writing is a lot like cooking. It’s something that everyone has to do, but it doesn’t always come easily. It can take years of practice before you’re able to write something that actually sounds good and makes sense. 

However, there are some tried-and-true methods that have been proven to work time and again: rules for writing. 

These rules aren’t just for professional journalists; anyone who wants to write well should follow them religiously! And today I’m going to share my top 13 rules with you so that we can all write better news stories together!

Other Tips in News Writing – YouTube
1. Master the art of crafting compelling headlines.
2. Use active voice to make your news articles more engaging.
3. Fact-check and verify information from reliable sources.
4. Write clear and concise sentences to convey your message.
5. Incorporate quotes and interviews to add depth to stories.
6. Stay objective and avoid bias in your reporting.
7. Be accurate and double-check names, dates, and facts.
8. Pay attention to grammar and proofread your work.
9. Keep up with current events and trends in your niche.
10. Practice writing regularly to improve your skills.
11. Know your audience and tailor your content accordingly.
12. Develop a strong storytelling ability for impactful news.
13. Embrace constructive criticism to grow as a writer.

Rule 1: Know What A News Story Is

A news story is not an editorial, nor is it a feature article. It’s not a press release and neither is it a news release though it may contain elements of these things. 

A good way to think about the difference between all these different types of content is like this: If you were sitting at home watching the evening news on TV, would you look forward to reading this? 

If the answer isn’t yes, then your story isn’t going in front of people who are just looking for information it’s going in front of people who want something more engaging than just facts (e.g., they want entertainment).

Learning how to craft compelling blog articles is essential for any aspiring news writer. Check out our tips on how to write a blog article from a pro and take your writing skills to the next level.

Rule 2: Write Simple Sentences

This rule is simple to understand. Use short sentences and words. Simple sentences are not necessarily difficult to write, but they do require you to think about what information can be left out without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Simple grammar doesn’t have to mean simplistic writing you can use complex grammar if it’s appropriate for your topic and audience (like using “comma-spliced” sentences). However, don’t use complex grammar just because you feel like showing off!

Punctuate your writing as simple as possible; don’t overdo it with exclamation points and italics!

Rule 3: Keep Stories In Third Person

The third-person voice is the most popular choice for news stories. It’s a good one, too. You should use it for every story you write—unless you have a really good reason not to.

Here are some reasons why:

  • It makes it easier for the reader to understand what happened and how it happened by keeping your writing simple and objective rather than subjective;
  • It keeps your writing concise by removing unnecessary words, phrases, clauses, and even entire sentences;
  • It makes your story more interesting by allowing you to focus on those details that matter most while also letting readers draw their conclusions about what they mean instead of telling them directly how they’re supposed to feel about something

Rule 4: Use The Inverted Pyramid Structure

This is a writing structure that’s easiest to understand by looking at an example. Let’s take a look at this story:

A group of teens were hanging out in the park when they were approached by two men in hoodies who demanded money. The teens refused and ran away, but one of them was hit on his way out. He sustained serious injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment. 

The police have identified the suspects as Kyle Moore and Drew Darrow, both age 20, and are investigating their connection to the shooting death last month of a local businessman named Robert Eagleton Jr., who was also shot outside his home by two masked individuals wearing hoodies who took off before authorities could respond or catch them.

That would be an inverted pyramid because it starts with what happened first (“teens”) and then goes into more detail about what happened next (“they were approached”).

Then moves on from there until we get all the way down to what happened last: “Kyle Moore” is arrested by police after being observed fleeing from the scene.”

Crafting high-quality news articles requires attention to detail and effective writing techniques. Check out these 15 tips for writing high-quality news articles to enhance your news writing prowess.

Rule 5: Start Your Story By Answering The 5 Ws And The H

The first question a reader has is, “What happened?” This means you need to start your story with a clear description of what occurred.

The second question is, “Who was involved?” You should introduce the most important characters in your story by name and role at this point.

Thirdly, ask yourself: “Where did it happen?” If possible, give readers a sense of where things happened by using descriptive words that connect with senses such as vision or hearing.

Fourthly, ask yourself: “When did it happen?” This will help establish context around why something or someone took place at that place and time which brings us right up against our fifth question: Why?

Rule 6: Use Active Verbs, Not Passive Verbs

This rule is probably the easiest to follow, and one of the most important. Everyone should be using active verbs in their writing but if you want to be a news writer who can write quickly and effectively, then it’s even more important that you do so.

Active verbs are direct, exciting and engaging: they signify action being taken by someone or something else in the sentence. 

They’re also more powerful than passive verbs because they show what happens rather than just explaining what happened. This makes them more useful for storytelling.

Let’s look at some examples:

Passive verb: The car was stolen by thieves who had been waiting outside all night long until finally breaking into the vehicle through its window and driving away with everything inside it (the owner’s belongings). 

Active verb: Thieves broke into a car parked outside an apartment building late at night after waiting most of the evening before finally taking everything they could find inside out onto the streets (motorcycles, laptops and other valuables were all stolen).

Rule 7: Use Short Words, Short Sentences, Short Paragraphs

“Short words, short sentences, short paragraphs,” said legendary journalist and author William Zinsser. This rule is more important than you might think. In fact, it’s one of the most important rules there is for writing good copy.

The reason? Brevity makes your writing easier to read and understand and therefore more likely to be read by your audience (see Rule 1). 

It also makes it easier for you as the writer to get your ideas across in a succinct manner so that you don’t lose focus or have writer’s block halfway through your piece.

As far as sentence length goes, there are no hard-and-fast rules about what constitutes “short” or “long.” 

However, it’s generally accepted that sentences should be around 15 words long at most; anything longer than 20 words will likely cause readers’ eyes to glaze over with boredom and frustration at having to work harder than they should have to decipher them (or worse still: give up entirely).

The headline is a crucial element that can determine the success of a news article. Learn how to write attention-grabbing headlines with 10 examples of great headlines and make your stories stand out.

Rule 8: Do Not Use ‘and’, ‘but’ Or ‘so’ At The Beginning Of A Sentence

Avoid using ‘and’, ‘but’, and ‘so’ at the beginning of a sentence. These words are not strong enough to start a sentence. Instead, use a strong verb to make your sentences more impactful:

  • Avoid: We are happy that you have chosen our book as part of your course!
  • Do: We’re thrilled you’ve chosen our book as part of your course!

Use this rule when writing headlines and subheads as well. If you find yourself using these words at the beginning of a sentence in your headline or subhead (or anywhere), chances are it can be improved by strengthening it with an active verb instead.

Rule 9: Do Your Research. Check Your Facts And Spellings!

The first rule of journalism is to check your facts and spelling. You must do your due diligence by researching each story before writing it. If you don’t know what something is called or how to spell it, ask someone with more experience than you (if possible). 

Don’t just make up a word because it sounds right to be sure of yourself before putting anything in print!

It’s also imperative that our writers take care not to plagiarize material from other sources. 

We have an entire department dedicated solely to verify the authenticity of all content published on our site through an extensive process involving multiple levels of editors and fact-checkers who review every story before publishing. 

This rule isn’t just about making sure no one steals someone else’s work it’s also about ensuring that we’re providing our readers with accurate information so they can make informed decisions based on their research.

Want to reach a broader audience with your news stories? Discover the secrets to writing news articles that captivate millions by checking out our expert overview on writing great news stories.

Rule 10 Write With Integrity And Honesty

This is the most important rule of all, as it’s a matter of ethics and professionalism as a writer. It’s also the easiest to understand: don’t plagiarize, makeup facts or quotes, or use fake sources. 

Plagiarism is copying other people’s work without giving them credit; it’s easy to spot if you read carefully, but easy to miss if you’re in a hurry. Make sure you always attribute your sources.

Even when they’re not directly quoted and never invent them out of thin air (even if they seem like common knowledge). 

Don’t tell readers what someone said unless there’s proof that person said it. Even then, check for confirmation from a second source before publishing! 

This applies whether you’re quoting literal speech or paraphrasing an idea expressed in writing or conversation with someone else…or even thinking about what might happen next week on Game Of Thrones; remember that George R R Martin has been known to change his mind later on!

Rule 11 Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

If you’re a new writer, or even an old one, there are people who can help you improve your craft and make your writing better. Ask questions when they come up. 

Don’t ever think it makes you look weak or stupid it doesn’t! People like helping others succeed in the workplace because it usually means that the whole team will succeed too. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on your stories from more experienced writers or editors (like me!). 

This can help you learn from their experience and avoid making similar mistakes in the future. If possible, try asking them what advice they would give someone in your shoes this is often very helpful!

Rule 12 Don’t Get Lazy

This rule is a tough one to follow, but it’s important because it reminds us to always be on our game. If you find yourself repeating the same mistakes, or getting stuck in a rut of bad habits that aren’t helping your writing, don’t just sit back and think: 

“Well, at least I’m not as bad as those other people.” Instead, ask for help from your colleagues or coworkers who are better than you (because everyone has their strengths). 

Then try new things until you find one that clicks this could mean asking for feedback from readers, hiring an editor (which costs money), taking classes online and learning how to write more clearly in plain English instead of buzzwords…you name it! 

Finally: if all else fails and nothing works out for some reason unknown even by yourself…ask for more responsibility! 

It might sound crazy but sometimes needing more work can be a good thing because then there will be less time spent worrying about what’s happening around them instead of focusing solely on doing better work themselves…

And if nothing else works out then maybe ask questions like: What else could I learn? How else could this job benefit me both professionally AND personally?

In today’s digital age, understanding the significance of digital marketing in news writing is crucial. Gain insights into its impact with our expert overview on why does digital marketing matter and stay ahead in the world of news writing.

Rule 13 Listen To Feedback And Act On It! It Can Only Make You Better

Let’s face it: no one is perfect. If you’re like me, you tend to be your own worst critic. And when it comes to writing news stories, that can be especially true. 

We all know the feeling of sitting down to write an article and not being able to think of anything interesting or noteworthy enough for publication.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience in this field which has been more than 10 years now it’s that feedback is essential for growth as an editor or writer and that we’re only going to improve our work if we listen to what people have to say about it (and act on it).


It’s important to remember that news writing is a craft, not a science. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what makes a good story or how to write one. 

But if you follow these 20 rules, we think you’ll be much closer to being able to create compelling content that engages your readers. And remember: the best way to get better at anything is to practice!

Further Reading

How to Write Like a Journalist: Learn essential writing techniques used by journalists to craft compelling and informative stories.

5 Rules to Writing Headlines: Discover five effective rules to create attention-grabbing headlines that captivate your readers.

Grammar School: Writing Tips: Improve your writing skills with these helpful grammar tips and elevate the quality of your content.


What are the key techniques journalists use in their writing?

Journalists employ various techniques, such as conducting thorough research, interviewing sources, and presenting information objectively, to produce accurate and engaging news articles.

How can I write headlines that attract readers?

To write captivating headlines, focus on clarity, relevance, and brevity while incorporating attention-grabbing elements that pique the curiosity of your audience.

What are some common grammar mistakes to avoid in writing?

Common grammar mistakes include subject-verb agreement errors, misuse of punctuation, and improper sentence structure. Proofreading and editing can help in rectifying such errors.

How can I improve the flow and coherence of my writing?

To enhance the flow and coherence of your writing, use transitional phrases, organize your ideas logically, and ensure that each paragraph contributes to the overall message of your piece.

How do journalists ensure the accuracy of their sources?

Journalists verify the credibility of their sources by cross-referencing information with multiple sources, checking the reliability of the sources, and ensuring the information is up-to-date and accurate.