Write an Article a Day: Using an Outline Template

By Larry M. Lynch

So many readers wrote to ask me for my simple article writing template mentioned in “Five Ways Posting to Article Banks Can Spark Your Writing” that I decided to flesh it out just a bit as another complete article. A sincere “Thank you” to all of you who responded so kindly. It was none other than Abraham Lincoln who said, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Writing practice makes perfect. This format helps me to do just that. It will help you to practice your writing, too—a lot.

Use This Simple Outline Template for Writing Online Articles

Here is the short, simple outline template that I use to tell me if I have enough information for an online article. It also helps me to organize what I have and ensures that I stay on track with the flow of the article. Follow this format and you’ll have absolutely no trouble writing an article each day once you get the hang of it.

First I draft this out by hand and if there’s enough or almost enough information, then I know the article is a “go.” If not, I can either research the additional data I need or simply scrap that article idea for a new one—I always have plenty of ideas, don’t you? On occasion, working through the article outline template will spur the piece or idea into a slightly different direction. That’s fine too, so I just “go with it.” I sincerely hope this basic online article outline template helps you generate more writing faster.

Headline: Write A Killer, Stop-Them-Dead-In-Their-Tracks Article Headline.

You must slam the reader to a screeching halt when he reads your headline. Online, if you don’t grab readers, they’re gone. Your piece won’t even get read as the lost reader tunnels deeper into the bowels of the web and into another author’s article only a couple of mouse clicks or so away.

  • Put reader benefits into a Hooker Headline
  • Use keywords for SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Try out at least four or five different titles for each article
  • Use an online keyword search tool to help narrow down high-frequency and top-rated keywords

Opening Paragraph:Write a killer opening sentence and a grab-’em-by-the-throat first paragraph.

In addition to a Hooker Headline, you’ll need a Hooker opening sentence and paragraph, one that will draw your reader in and give him reasons to start or continue reading. Based on this paragraph readers frequently decide to read the article or not, so make it as strong as you can. You must grab and hold the reader here. Your opening paragraph should be attention-grabbing, short, and descriptive. At times I even use my first paragraph as the “teaser” description of my article.

Main Feature Paragraph 1:

Write at least three supporting sentences for each main point in your article. Typically there are five to seven feature paragraphs to an article. Often though, I’ll write five to seven supporting sentences for each main feature paragraph for a somewhat longer, more in-depth piece. I’ll also add more support for each main feature if there are only three or four of them in the piece. If there are online references or websites you’d like to include, bullet them at the end of the paragraph. You can also include a quote, anecdote, and another reference to flesh out the main feature if you wish. You can open with an anecdote or quote if you have a strong one to pique reader interest.

  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Quotes
  • Anecdote
  • Reference

Main Feature Paragraph 2:

  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Quote, anecdote or reference (or a combination thereof)

Main Feature Paragraph 3:

  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Quote, anecdote or reference (or a combination thereof)

Main Feature Paragraph 4:

  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Quote, anecdote or reference (or a combination thereof)

Main Feature Paragraph 5:

  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Supporting sentence to illustrate main feature
  • Quote, anecdote or reference (or a combination thereof)

Conclusion (Wrap Up):

Write a strong closing summary of your piece as a conclusion to your arguments or information. Leave the reader hungry for more—you’re not writing a definitive piece on the topic. You don’t have the time, space or necessity for that. Do give plenty of GOOD information, but if there are things you must leave out— great. Include them in another article—a part two, etc., if you need to. There’s no problem with that. Be sure to dress up, clean up, and edit what you’ve written– at least twice. Finally, you could add a phrase similar to “For even more helpful advice and information on ‘your topic’ go to ‘your website, e-mail, etc.'” It’s really a nice touch if you can tie your closing in with your opening.

I sincerely hope this basic article outline template helps you generate more writing faster. Again, following this format, you’ll have absolutely no trouble writing an article each day once you get the hang of it. If you have a question, doubt or just want to let me know how it’s working out for you, please feel free to drop me an e-mail—even after you’re famous. Good luck and keep writing.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is a bilingual copywriter, expert author, and photographer specializing in business, travel, food, and education-related writing in South America. His work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape from America, Mexico News, and Brazil magazines. He teaches at a university in Cali, Colombia.