ContentWise Blog

Checklist for Good Structure

An article with a clear, sensible structure goes effortlessly into the reader’s brain and is a pleasure to read. But first drafts are often messy. Pulling them apart and putting them back together on a sound footing is one of the most daunting tasks an editor can face. Use this checklist to help keep you on track.

  • Obey the “rule of ones:” Does the story make one major point? Does each paragraph and each sentence also make a single point.
  • Check the overall shape: Does the piece have a beginning, middle, and end?
  • Check the front end: Does the lead connect to a nut graph that tells readers why they should keep reading, explains why they’re reading about this now, and lays out a road map for the piece?
  • Is the piece a logical dialog with the reader? Outline it to find out. Does it answer all the reader’s questions as they come up?
  • Does the story rush or slow down in any sections?
  • Does it repeat itself because the structure is confused?
  • Does each paragraph do new and useful work?
  • Is each paragraph hooked to the one before it? Do the transitions feel natural?
  • Are paragraphs, and sentences, structured for the right emphasis?
  • If this is a service article, does the structure present the practical information clearly?
  • Does the ending leave the reader with a useful bit of information or advice, take him/her by surprise, or “close the loop” of the story?