Writing your article
Get your point across quickly and concisely. Try and get your article to about 500 words, if you can create impact with less, even better but this is a good target. You may want to use minimal words and use multimedia instead such as images or video.
The first paragraph is vital to grab attention. Keeping sentences short will increase readability – aim for about 20 – 25 words per sentence. In many traditional and academic forms of writing a conclusion or opinion is at the end, after a discussion, turn this on its head in a blog. Add an impactful opinion, conclusion or result, right at the very beginning of your blog and come to a conclusion in the first few sentences and then go into more detail in the remainder of the article. What did you achieve? What was the final outcome? Follow up with how you went about it. Try to structure your article with a beginning, middle and end and tell a story.
- Get a striking headline that grabs attention – this could pose a question or give a bold statement.
- Think carefully about how you start paragraphs and make the first few words count.
- Keep paragraphs short and use short sentences.
- Break text up by using subheadings, bullet points, still images or videos.
Try to avoid jargon or acronyms – your readers may not understand terms used only in your discipline. Link out to internal pages such as a MicroCPD and external news articles or research papers that relate to or support your article. This is useful if some of your article content may not be familiar to your audience. They can click the link and take a look and read further about it, if they want to. A more formal piece of research may help to support your claims or a news article may give more detail about an issue you are attempting to tackle.
Whose voice and who are you speaking to?
Think about the voice in which you are writing. Is it your own? HEFi’s? Your department’s? The University of Birmingham? It may be any of these but make sure you keep this consistent throughout your article. If it isn’t your voice be careful not to speak for anyone else and make it clear that you are expressing personal opinions.
Always keep your target audience in mind. You are speaking directly to them in an informal style so you want to make it is as personal and meaningful for them as possible. Writing about things that interest your audience will have greater impact. Keep this in mind even if you don’t know specifically who your audience will be because it will help to focus your writing.
A good example of academic blogging is The Conversation, their tag line is ‘Academic rigour, journalistic flair’.
If you would like to read more about writing, the Plain English Campaign has some good free guides at: http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/free-guides.html
You can contribute your ideas on any aspect of the big conversation at any time. You can find the submissions page, here.