The inverted pyramid is a methodology of writing that is used by journalists, writers and content creators to illustrate how news information should be structured and presented to an audience. It is one of the oldest methods for crafting news stories and has been widely adopted by many writers in our modern age.
It is one of the most effective ways to communicate information about a certain topic and it is widely used by many media outlets and individuals to present important information and make a point. In this article we discuss the method and style of the inverted pyramid. We will also explore all the elements that make it unique and how it works.
What is the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing?
The inverted pyramid as the name implies, is an upside down content structure that starts off with the widest parts of content and most important information about a topic or news piece at the top.
The top of the inverted pyramid summarizes the most important elements of a story in order to draw the reader in and grab their attention. The inverted pyramid structure tends to include 5 major writing points. Each point represents a different but important component of the story.
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1. Important information relating to the main story
This information heads the article and gives the reader immediate information about what the rest of the article plans to cover in detail. It sets the tone and expectation of the article in regards to the type of information the readers can expect.
2. Relevant details and breakdown of the details that pertain to the story
The next points that follow the main outlines of the story should start to dive into further detail and illustrate further development to the story.
This part should be full of interesting facts and things that can trigger an emotional response from the reader in order to keep going further into the new story.
Here is where creative diction and syntax allow a journalist to show off their skills.
3. Background information
Inside the third component of the inverted pyramid, a writer should provide relevant background to the story. This helps further illustrates their points and allows the reader to start forming their own judgement about what they are reading.
This part should fill any unanswered questions that the readers might have and can separate good journalism from great journalism.
4. Further Details and Quotes
Towards the end of the article you should look to provide additional information that can further drive your point or provide a unique perspective on the topic that the reader may have never considered.
It’s also extremely valuable to include any quotes from interviews or an opinion that another individual expressed. This helps the reader get a front row seat into the piece they are reading.
5. Biography and References
If you created a high value piece of news or content and readers want to check out some of your other work it’s a good idea to leave your name and a way for them to follow you.
This creates return visitors and can build your base of loyal readers. It’s also equally important to note down your references so people know that your content is well researched and valid.
The truth is, no one likes a made up story that they can’t validate. So having your bio and references is a great way to establish yourself as an authority.
Who Invented The Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing?
History isn’t clear if the inverted pyramid was invented by a specific individual. It is commonly believed that the methodology was created by 19th century wartime reporters who sent in their news and stories by telegraph.
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Their goal was to have the most important pieces of information arrive first in case there happened to be transmission issues.
You could say that the style was forcibly adopted due to the undeveloped technologies of the 19th century. Although the style is very effective and heavily utilizes in journalism in modern times.
Recommended Reading: Birth of the Inverted Pyramid
Why does the inverted pyramid work?
The inverted pyramid works extremely well for a variety of reasons. The methodology provides a clear structured mechanism for journalist and writers to create engaging pieces of writing.
It also allows readers to stop reading the story at any time and have a good understanding of what it was about, even if they don’t get through all the details. It is also very effective in providing readers a balanced approach to reading a story. This is done by giving them all the relevant details by the end.
The methodology allows for readers to immediately get information that they are looking for and dive into the smaller less important details as the story progresses. It’s a great way to condense long material into exiting and engaging pieces that the masses can enjoy.
It’s like watching a highlight real, but you’re reading it.
What is an example of an inverted pyramid?
Before giving you direct news articles that feature the inverted pyramid, let’s break down how you write in the inverted pyramid style.
Step 1: Start with the Conclusion of the Story
Writers and journalist are taught to “front load” their pieces of writing, putting the most important and attention grabbing pieces in the beginning to hook their audience. The next pieces of writing should be of diminishing importance.
Front loading your readers helps to keep them more engaged. If you start them off with a boring pieces of content from the beginning they will not be interested. Today’s readers are even worse, you have to give them something right from the start to keep them engaged.
Step 2: Use Eye Catching Headlines
This is a no brainer. If you don’t have an exciting headline, you don’t have an audience. You should also learn to craft your headlines in a way that features the conclusion in the title but doesn’t give enough information to the reader.
This will invoke their curiosity and cause them to want to find out more information
Step 3: Release Exciting Details Slowly
In order to keep readers happy and engaged you have to drip feed those interesting details that will want to make them continue reading the article. You can’t give all the important and exciting details right away.
Tease your audience and give them a little bit at a time. This will help to build anticipation and interest for the reader.
Reading tip: 4 examples of the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing
Example Pieces of the Inverted Pyramid
The three articles below do a great job of following the inverted pyramid writing style. They are great examples of how it’s used in the news today.
What are Some Criticisms of Writing in the inverted pyramid Style?
Journalists are oftentimes critical of the inverted pyramid style of writing but it also garnishes it’s fair share of supporters. It’s considered a useful form of writing for breaking news and to quickly get important information out to eager readers.
Others consider it a shallow form of writing because of the lack of depth. They also believe it fails to add creativity in writing. Critics also believe that the inverted pyramid style of writing shifts facts around with the sole intention of gaining attention.
Journalists and critics believe that the inverted pyramid style of writing is outdated, boring and suppresses creativity in the natural tone of writing because it focuses mainly on facts and catchy headlines.
If you are a journalist that is in search of making your content more exciting and engaging to your readers, you should consider using the inverted pyramid. Not only has it been used for over 100 years in the field of journalism it is extremely effective and provides value for the reader.