Inverted Pyramid Style

Inverted PyramidWriting in the Inverted Pyramid style has so many benefits for your readers, that everyone who writes for the web needs to learn to write this way.

What is the Inverted Pyramid?
In journalism, this method of starting with your conclusion is called the Inverted Pyramid style.  Sometimes referred to as Front-Loading, it means you should put your most important information first when writing for the web.

This style is called an ‘inverted’ pyramid simply because it is an upside-down pyramid with the most important information at the top.

This style of web writing or news story writing has many benefits:

  • Readers can quickly assess whether they want to read your entire article.
  • Readers can stop reading at any point and still come away with the main point of your article.
  • By starting with your conclusion, the first few sentences on your web page will contain most of your relevant keywords, boosting your SEO.
  • By front-loading each paragraph, you allow your readers to skim through the first sentences of every paragraph to get a quick overview of your entire article. (See below for how to front-load your paragraphs).

Start with your conclusion

Journalists are taught to write news stories using this inverted pyramid structure.  They front-load their story, putting the essential and most attention-grabbing elements first, followed by supporting or explanatory information in order of diminishing importance. The least important information is at the bottom.  This style allows newspaper readers to skim their newspapers for a quick news update; they can choose to read only partway through an article knowing that the information they fail to read at the end is not going to be as important as the information at the beginning.  This style also has the advantage of allowing editors to chop off the bottom of articles at any point so that the story will fit into the required space on a newspaper page.  When the least important information is at the bottom, articles can be easily shortened by editors without damaging the structure of the story.

Front-loading is different to the style you were taught in school or university for essay-writing.  To write an essay, you start with an introduction and you gradually build up to your conclusion.   To write effectively for the web, you need to do the opposite, and come to the point immediately.

This style calls for a very direct approach.  If you spoke in this manner, it would be considered blunt and perhaps a little rude.  But it is the preferred style for Internet readers.  So be direct. Make your point first, then explain it.

Don’t lose your audience

By front-loading your web content, you are more likely to keep your readers on the page. Today’s Internet users are impatient for results.  If they cannot quickly and easily assess your article for points of interest, they are likely to leave your webpage and go search for an alternative that is easier to skim.

How to write in the inverted pyramid style

To Front-load your article:

Write a brief summary or overview of your article in a few sentences.  Include your most important keywords in the summary and put it at the beginning of your article.  This allows users to quickly assess what your article is about, and helps search engines to identify your most important keywords.

To Front-load every paragraph:

  1. Limit each paragraph to one main point or idea.
  2. Start each paragraph with the main point or conclusion in the first one or two sentences.
  3. Then go on to explain your point.

By doing this, you allow your readers to skim your entire article and get an overview of it by simply reading the first sentence or two of each paragraph.  They can also scan your content, looking for points of interest, without having to read every paragraph to the end.

To Front-load your headlines:

Start your headings with significant words. The first words then communicate the subject matter, and catch the eye of your reader. Well-composed headings at the beginning of each section will help your readers to skim and scan the entire article looking for points of interest.

 

 

See also:

Jana Brech

About Jana Brech

Hi, my name is Jana Brech. I live in Brisbane, Australia. After 20+ years in the IT industry as an Analyst/Programmer, I have a passion for Usability. I love good design.

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Comments

  1. Amii  March 23, 2014

    I found this article very useful. Thank you.

    reply
  2. my explanation  September 28, 2014

    I do trust all of the ideas you’ve introduced for your post.

    They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are
    too brief for starters. Could you please lengthen them
    a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

    reply
    • Jana Brech
      Jana Brech  September 30, 2014

      Thanks, this is valuable feed-back! It’s a good suggestion and I intend to expand this post, as it is such an important subject for anyone who writes for the Web. I have created the first half of a video tutorial on the subject. If you like, I will email you when it is published.

      reply
    • Usman  December 6, 2014

      I like this article precisely ‘because’ it is so brief 🙂

      There are endless articles analyzing the pyramid writing style (or front loading), but hardly any that break it down into a few key points, like this one does.

      Really useful, thanks!

      reply
      • Jana Brech
        Jana Brech  December 13, 2014

        Thanks, Usman – very kind of you to comment. I’m so glad to hear this article can still be useful even though it is so brief – especially since I am too busy on other projects to finish my planned video tutorial at the moment. There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day!

        reply
  3. Sanyya  November 28, 2014

    Thank you so much guiding us with this style of writing, I am definitely going to use this style in my writing (y)

    reply
  4. Sara  January 24, 2015

    Thank you so much. This article was very helpful to me! Keep up the great work.

    reply
  5. Mohaddis  October 7, 2015

    Hi i am a student of Mass Communication in Pakistan.. I have to deal with news writing and it’s composition…. I found it soo usefull…. ThanX

    reply
  6. Mansi  November 22, 2015

    hello mam m mansi student of mass communication in India and specially Thnx for this brief explaination it is so easy nd understandable actual i need it for my external thanx a lot mam

    reply
  7. Sapana  March 8, 2016

    This is so valuable information for every blogger and content writer. I have been doing it all wrong till date. Learnt a lot from this article. thank you very much

    reply
  8. Rob Thrasher  September 16, 2016

    I also found this article very useful as an author who is currently applying to be a writer for NFS. I would certainly love to see examples and more knowledge from Jana, but also understand the chains of time that bind all talented people. Thank you for the article Jana!

    reply

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