Wiki Life: Planning a Great Article

You have a great idea. You want to share it with the community. But will anyone read it?

A little bit of planning can be the difference between a good idea and a great article that will help the community. Here are a few tips for writing great articles.

1. What's the goal of the article?
2. Know your audience (reader)
3. Should it be one article or multiple (linked) articles?
4. Pre-Prepare everything (screen shots, code examples, videos, and the articles content)
5. Keep your article simple and get straight to the point
6. Use clear headings, short paragraphs and simple sentences
7. Write it out, read it through, spell check it, then try to condense it
8. Keep the formatting simple
9. Know the standard

Think carefully about the information you are trying to share. Write it down as one or more bullet points (try to keep them to just a few). Refer to these points as you write your article. Anything that doesn't support these points should be removed.

Who is the intended audience for your article? What will they be looking for? Are they business users? Analysts? Technical people? Think about what these people are like and what they'll be looking for.

Write your article in way that the reader (audience) will find easy to understand. Use words (language) your readers will be familiar with.

You've got of a great subject to write about, but it is complex, very long, or has multiple concepts. Perhaps it would be better to write several articles, with each article containing one idea, linking them together with a See Also section? This may make your articles faster and easier to read through.

Prepare everything for your article in advance. Take screen shots and save them to a folder. Write and test any code examples. Save sample files to the TechNet Gallery. Write out the article contents in a text editor, leaving spaces (or markers) for images and examples.

Doing this will help you plan the articles structure (the sentences and paragraphs, where code and pictures will be inserted, additional links, etc.). Planning your articles structure gives you time to consider the placement of text, pictures and examples.

People are short on time. We search for information because we need to know something. Keep your article short and to the point; give the reader only what they need.

Keep paragraphs short. Stick to one idea per sentence. Use headings that tell the story of your article. Doing this will make your article faster and easier to read.

Write your article in a text editor. Read it out aloud. Does it make sense? Was it easy to read? Can it be shortened? Is the spelling correct?

If you can, leave it for a day, then come back and read it again. Does it still make sense? Does it clearly convey the subject you are writing about?

Simple formatting is easy to read. Keep to standard styles. Keep the use of styles as limited as possible.

Finally, know the current Wiki standards. There are many useful articles that provide guidance on content, structure, standards, formatting and more. Get to know them.

See Also:

TechNet Wiki: Getting Started
Wiki: User Experience Guidelines  *A really good article to read before getting starting
What Makes a Great Article