News style guide

Website news article writing guide

Online news has changed the way audiences engage with popular and topical news articles. Therefore, readers are becoming increasingly interested in short, direct and social-style content that encourages re-sharing with a wider audience.

This document is intended as a writing style guide to ensure we continue to make our latest research and news stories attract, sustain and direct readers. Below are the key items to take notice of:

The headline

  • Ideally a headline should be between 5 – 7 words, this ensures that the headline is direct and acknowledges the key aspects of the article.
  • Ensure the headline contains keywords so search engines find your content easily.


  • Make sure the introduction of your article indicates your research finding.
  • Ideally, the first paragraph should contain enough information to give the reader a good overview of the entire story.
  • News should be short and contribute new research findings.
  • In-depth analysis is not always essential when writing for press/articles. Links to wider reading around your subject field is useful to the reader.


  • Keep sentences short and clear.
  • Keep paragraphs to 3-4 lines, this ensures your article remains concise. 
  • Ensure you have proofread your work to remove unnecessary words, in some cases, paraphrase where necessary.
  • Direct readers to points of importance using subheadings
  • Avoid listing in long form. Always use bullet points or numbered lists where you can.

Using content creatively

Imagery is now a crucial aspect in gripping the attention of our readers. In the world of online news, a picture or video can prompt thousands of views and shares. Consider whether your news story could be supported by shareable content such as:


  • Pictures of people tend to work better than landscapes or objects. Think how you can make your imagery people-focused
  • Can an infographic help tell a complicated story in a visual way?


  • Online video should be concise and ideally under one minute. For platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, the average viewing time is 15 seconds.

What’s next?

Your news story should invite the reader to do something. Provide a strong call-to-action, ideally to pages within the College’s website. For example:

  • Read more about our expertise in xxx – direct readers to subject specific college pages using hyperlinks
  • Find out how to xxx – direct readers to practical advice
  • Learn more about xxx – direct readers to supplementary materials such as research papers, event details
  • Always check your links work! 

Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of improving how easily your webpage is found though online search results. Ways to improve your SEO are as follows:

  • The easiest way to achieve strong SEO is to make your content useful and relevant to readers, following the steps above. The more user-friendly, the better
  • Use hyperlinks to direct to other sources of relevant information (ideally within our own site).

Engaging a wider audience

Ensuring you share your work to a wider audience is the easiest way to gain readers. Make your content work hard:

  • Share your link on appropriate social media and with colleagues/contacts
  • Can your news work across mediums?
    • Can a news piece be used on the intranet, or student comms, Facebook or Linkedin? If so, ensure you reach out to relevant teams.


If you have any questions about the course, please contact the Digital team digital@royalholloway.ac.uk