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What Makes a Good Article?

Author: Phil Marks

There are many aspect to writing high quality articles. In this article, I am aiming to provide you with ways of defining the quality of your article in a practical sense, and therefore provide you, the reader, with value.

What is Quality?

So, what is quality in an article? What makes a great article? Many authors would say that it is the style of writing and use of vocabulary. Others would say that it is the ability to convey information in a concise and easily readable way. Erudition (display of great depth of knowledge) and the use of academic vocabulary does not work for all markets. Some people write for the love of it, and others just as a way of selling products or services, and there are many shades in-between. If you are selling products, then surely a great article would be defined as one which is highly effective at selling the product or service?

The other way of looking at it is to ask: ‘ What does the reader see as high quality’? You have clicked into this article, and I want to show you how to assess quality and thereby provide you with quality. That’s an example of recursion (self reference).

Value Equals Quality

To me, it seems that we can equate ‘quality’ with ‘value to the reader’.


Ways in which you can provide value to your readers


1. The presentation of useful facts and information in a condensed way that saves researching across maybe 20 other sites. This provides time-saving value.


2. Articles which provide tangible tips on saving money. Yes, you guessed it - money-saving value!


3. Articles which provide real tips on making money (for example ‘ How to Market Yourself as a Local Handyman’).


4. The presentation of an idea or explanation of a concept which assists the reader's understanding of a topic - eg formation of a galaxy. This provides teaching value.


5. Informed speculation or discussion which opens the visitor's mind to new avenues of thought - these could be purely philosophical or exploratory, say, relating to a concept such as 'New Ideas for Funding Care of the Elderly' (no, I know nothing about that, just dreamed it up). These act as a trigger for the visitor's own thinking and enable him or her to extend the argument and generate new ideas or thoughtlines. This provides 'new concept' value.


6. An article which is not all motherhood and apple pie with no concrete core. Ok, I wouldn't eat a pie with a concrete core either! Such articles are typical of what you will find from outsourced authors. This provides ‘what-not-to-do’ value, which is, in a way, equivalent to teaching value.


7. Following on from point 6 - an article which makes the reader laugh or entertains the reader in some other way e.g. the quality of the writing itself could do that. This provides – yes, you guessed it - entertainment value.


These are a handful of ways in which your article can provide value. If you can deliver two or more of these ‘values’ in an article, then you will strengthen its quality perception in the eyes of the reader. Use them as a guideline before you start your article and decide what you aim to deliver, and then use them to critically appraise your article when it is in final draft stage.


Go ahead, assess this article on the bases I have suggested above. I certainly hope I have delivered some teaching value, maybe some time saving value (time not lost on lower quality articles) and maybe a couple of others. You as the reader are the judge.


The other aspects – getting the reader to click through to your offering or to post a comment in response – obviously require your thought and effort. However, if you have delivered value to the reader, then they are far more likely to take that next step.


Good luck with your article writing, and I do hope that you found it to be of value!

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© 2010 Phil Marks