5W rule, what is it?

Règle des 5W, qu’est-ce que c’est  ?

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The 5 W rule is very old. Still used today as a writing rule, it offers editors a lever to provide quality and precise content.

The ultimate writing method, 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 means 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 top journalism schools. 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 the form we know it in the 50s.

What does this rule really 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 to the passage of information:

  1. What,
  2. Why,
  3. Who,
  4. When,
  5. Where.

Thus, when the editor writes his article, he gives the facts objectively by providing factual details on the What, the Why, the Who, the When and the Where. Over time, another parameter has been added to 5W: the Comment. We then speak of “The rule of 5 W’s and H’s”.

rule 5 w and h

This rule thus puts an end to the excesses of false information and gives the reader a real view of things. She also helps writers in difficulty to produce quality articles very simply.

How does the 5 W 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 define the outline of your content. Each point offers you to answer with sub-questions that make it easier for you to write your content.

Recent derivatives to take into account

Recently, two derivatives have been added to the rule. It’s about the “How” and the “What if”. These two new rules give the possibility of going deeper into the subject as much as possible. Thus, the reader has all useful information on the subject covered.

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

  • How did it come into being?
  • How are people who use it affected by it?

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

The “What if”, poses a conditional dimension to the article. While 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 topic 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 writing skills?

This drafting rule gives you a solid foundation in case of lack of inspiration. How? ‘Or’ What ? By offering you to write your article with a brainstorming technique. This process offers you the possibility of writing down all your ideas on paper 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 edit your finished article if necessary. This brainstorming step is possible at the start of the creation.

It is also achievable during the creation stage. Indeed, if you want 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 carry out this process at the end of the article, during the revision phase.

As you can see, the 5 W rule is an effective solution to bring your articles to life. In addition to helping you in creating it, she is useful for staying relevant and factual about the topic being discussed. This is why we strongly advise you to apply it to all your web writing.

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