5W rule, what is it?

The 5 W rule is very old. Still used today as an editorial rule, it offers editors leverage to provide quality and accurate content.

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Writing method par excellence, the 5W rule is applied by all journalists and content creators of our time. But what is this rule? How does it work?

The 5W rule, a timeless editorial method

The first traces of this rule date back to the time of Aristotle. Indeed, scholars used a mnemonic device to qualify the words of an author.

We also find the 5 W rule in modern journalism. Reintroduced in the 20th century, the 5 W rule has been taught since 1917 in the largest schools of journalism. It facilitates the prioritization of information and gives the reader a clear, precise and unbiased view of the facts. Improved in the 1930s, it takes on the shape we know from the 1950s.

What does this rule actually mean?

Are you a content writer? Do you have a readership? The application of the 5 W rule is essential! Indeed, it asks the 5 fundamental questions useful for the transmission of information:

1 What,

2 why,

3 who,

4 When,

5 Where.

Thus, when the writer writes his article, he objectively gives the facts by providing factual details on the What, Why, Who, When and Where. Over time, another parameter was added to the 5W: the Comment. We then speak of "the 5 W and H rule".

This rule thus puts an end to the excesses of false information and gives the reader a real vision of things. It also helps struggling writers produce quality articles with ease.

How does the 5W rule work?

As we have seen previously, the 5W rule refers to the 5 questions that journalists and editors must answer in their articles. Out of ideas? Use this rule to outline your content. Each point offers you to answer with sub-questions which makes it easier for you to write your content.

Recent derivatives to consider

Recently, two derivatives have been added to the rule. These are the "How" and the "What if". These two new rules give the possibility of deepening the subject to the maximum. Thus, the reader has all the useful information on the subject covered.

The “How” covers the questions that explain how the subject matter works.

  1. How did it come into existence?
  2. How are the people who use it affected by it?

This is a fundamental question in the deep understanding of the subject.

The "What if" poses a conditional dimension to the article. If it is not generally used in the first two thirds of an article, this rule finds its place in the rest of the article dealing with a specific subject.

For example, the reader might know what would happen if the subject did not exist. The author will then explain the different implications resulting from the non-existence of the subject.

How can this rule improve your ability to write?

This rule of writing gives you a solid base in case you lack inspiration. How ? By suggesting that you write your article using a brainstorming technique. This process offers you the possibility of putting all your ideas on paper by respecting the 5 W rule.

Once your ideas are on paper, all you have to do is build your sentences, put them in an understandable order and touch up your finished article if necessary. This brainstorming stage is possible at the start of creation.

It is also achievable during the creation stage. Indeed, if you wish to go into the details of an idea, you can develop it thanks to the brainstorming offered by the 5 W rule. Finally, it is possible to carry out this procedure at the end of the article, during the review phase.

As you have understood, the 5 W rule is an effective solution to bring your articles to life. In addition to helping you create it, it is useful for staying relevant and factual on the subject matter. This is why we strongly advise you to apply it to all your web writing.

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