Content Marketing: Use the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing

Inverted pyramid style of writing

The inverted pyramid style of writing works as a guide to consistently produce appealing online content that creates new business leads.  

This is a journalistic style of writing which shows how information is prioritized and structured in a text. The most important information is placed in the lead paragraph, with the additional information appearing in an order of importance. Besides being a common practice among news writers it is adaptable to other kinds of writing such as blogs.

I highly recommend this style of writing, particularly for creating your agency’s blog content.

Writing for the Web is definitely different from writing for print. A primary reason is why is that most people don’t read word for word online, they tend to scan more. alot more. 

The Nielsen Norman Group, a leading user  research firm, found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word. A newer study found that users read email newsletters even more abruptly than they read websites. People prefer sites that get to the point and let them get things done quickly.

Nielsen predicted the use of the inverted pyramid style of writing for the Web way back in 1996.

Most online readers are impatient and want writers to get to the point immediately. Using the storytelling approach of the fiction writer that features a beginning, middle and climatic conclusion, you will likely lose your readers early in the article.

The inverted pyramid tells the story backward. It leads with the conclusion.

I think you will find this style of writing very appealing to your online readers because of their tendancy to scan for online information and their short attention span. They will be able to  scan your article and still understand it, even if they don’t read every word.

This style is also a useful tool for the writer. It is a rewarding challenge. Your are forced to get to the heart of the matter, to sum up quickly and concisely what you are trying to convey. It also makes it easier to decide what other information is relevant and in what order it should be placed. It becomes a foundation for clarity of thinking through your writing. 

“The inverted pyramid organizes stories not around ideas or chronologies but around facts. It weighs and shuffles the various pieces of information, focusing with remarkable single-mindedness on their relative news value.” – journalism historian Mitchell Stephens

I encourage you to begin each online article by answering this question in a single sentence, “What’s the reader’s benefit if they commit to read your post?” Tell your readers what their takeaway is upfront.

It is not surprising that the inverted pyramid used by newspapers for decades, is now widely used by online news organizations such as The Associated Press, Reuters and other new services. It is a writing template that over time will make writing easier. 

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About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Jamie Dunham says:

    I believe in this style of writing as well. It’s my old journalism experience. The first couple of sentences determine whether the whole story is read or not.

  2. I always enjoy your writing Jamie.

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