How to write a news article

Brush up on news writing in English to catch readers’ attention
Kuvituskuva mobiililaitteista. Kuvittaja: Taru Happonen
Image: Taru Happonen

What is a news article? 

A news article ― also called a news story or news piece ― presents a topical issue that the university wants to talk about. It should be relevant to society, science or art, and/or of interest to the general public. These kinds of articles promote Aalto University’s position as a leader in research, art, education and innovation. They also cover how research and art can help solve global challenges and improve quality of life. 

News stories provide information, inspire, educate and expand readers’ knowledge of the world. They can also be entertaining.  

When planning a news story, remember to think carefully about the target audience and where it will be published. This is particularly important for stories with strong international appeal, as the angle and information provided in the English text will likely differ from the Finnish version.  

  • University news: has wide societal relevance or is interesting to general readers; may touch the whole university, one or more schools or disciplines 

  • School news: primarily relevant to a specific school (e.g. School of Engineering) 

  • Department or unit news: touches a particular department and its stakeholders 

Headline 

A news headline or title shortly presents the article’s central idea in an interesting and catchy way. It doesn’t have to cover everything but the headline makes clear why readers should continue reading. 

News headlines in English are usually written in the active voice and present tense. The best headlines use playful wording to capture the target audience’s attention. 

  • Hate speech-detecting AIs are fools for ‘love’  

  • New quantum structures in super-chilled helium may mirror early days of universe 

  • What the Finnish concept of sisu can offer the world 

Subhead 

News articles always have a subhead (also called a subheadline or subtitle), which complements the headline while concisely providing more information to hook the reader in.  

Since the article appears on the aalto.fi website, it isn’t absolutely necessary to mention Aalto by name. 

Subheads in English should be maximum one phrase and written in shorthand, like the headline. In practice this means that subheads are not necessarily complete sentences and, unlike in Finnish, do not use periods at the end of the phrase.  

In Drupal, the subhead text goes in both the summary field as well as the lead text field so that it appears in both the news feed as well as in the article itself. 

Main text 

The most common structure for writing news pieces is the inverted pyramid. Following the headline and subhead, the article begins with the most relevant information (who, what, where, when, why and how) framed in an interesting way. The overall text moves from the most important, or highest-level, to least important, or most detailed, information. 

Use concise language that captures the essence and feel of the topic. News in English is often more colourful or lively in its use of language, as compared to Finnish-language news.  

In the main text, avoid using the same formulations used in the headline and subhead.  

Avoid all details that impede readers’ progression through the text; too many specifics make the text hard to read. If you want to include more details, use a fact box at the end of the article. 

Remember that news pieces cover what Aalto University, our personnel or students have done. That being said, news articles are publicly available and, with the exception of in quotes, should not use ‘we’ or only first names. 

Refer to specific schools, departments or research groups in the contact information or a fact box at the end instead of within the main text. 

News stories are always based in fact, so ensure that all is correct prior to publication. Explain and base any strong opinions or claims made. Double-check that all names and numbers are written correctly.   

Headings 

As needed, divide sections of a news article with short, informative headings of a maximum of 5-6 words. Press releases in English do not require headings but they can be used. 

Links 

Add links to the end of the text. You can also add links within the text but limited their use. Always choose the option to have the link open in a new tab. 

Fact box 

Make a fact box in Drupal using the table tool.  

Length 

The suggested length for news articles is approximately 400-800 words in English.  

Visibility 

Remember to tag the article as needed in Drupal so it appears in the correct hubs on aalto.fi. 

Writing articles, news example

Read the general guidelines for writing articles in English. See a news article example, which cathes the reader's attention right from the title on.

Kuvituskuva näppäimistöstä. Kuvittaja: Ida-Maria Wikström.

General writing guidelines for articles in English

Find out how to write and edit English-language press releases and news — and how they differ in style, format and angle from texts written in Finnish.

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