Wednesday 11 March 2015

Fourteen Feature Article Formats

The feature article comes in many shapes and sizes.  Here are fourteen different types accompanied by examples.

1.  Profile

The profile, or interview, is a staple of the feature articles.  It is a behind the scenes look at an individual, including his or her age, hometown, education, residence and family.  It also touches on the subject's influences and choice of profession or vocation.  Ideally, if you write a profile article, you should conduct the interview face to face so as to know the interviewee's appearance and mannerisms.  It adds legitimacy to the piece.  However, if a face to face interview is impossible, you can always conduct an interview over the phone or via e-mail.  If you can see your subject in action (ex. a doctor at the hospital, a cop on his beat) then you get a better sense of what he or she is all about. These piece often take a question and answer format.

For example, read about the German leader Angela Merkel here:

2.  News

News stories focus on a topic of interest, using similar subjects to a deadline hard news story, but in greater depth and detail.  Whereas a deadline story focuses on numbers and stats, a news story often focuses on an individual.  For instance, a deadline story about heart disease would focus on the stats; a news story about the same topic would focus on a heart patient.  News stories "tackle big, newsy topics while still telling very human stories" (

For example, read about the Ebola Outbreak here:

3.  Spot

A spot feature article is a breaking news event with a deadline.  Often it takes the form of a sidebar to accompany the deadline news story in the mainbar.  For instance, the mainbar might feature an article about a tornado, covering the five W's of the story.  Sidebars, or spots, could cover emergency shelters, past tornadoes and pre-tornado weather conditions.

For example, read about the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the Louisiana Superdome at

4.  Trend

This type of feature "takes the pulse of the culture",highlighting topics such as art, fashion, film, music and technology.  Such articles are light, quick and easy to read.  Possible subjects include women's spring fashions, the newest technological gadget or the hottest indy band.

For example, read about Disc-o-Rama Dresses at

5.  Live In

This is an in depth magazine-length article describing a particular place and the people who live there ex. a homeless shelter, an emergency room, a battlefield encampment or a police precinct.  It's name is derived from the fact that reporters spend a large chunk of time at the site; they immerse themselves in the story.  The reporter gets a sense of rhythm and atmosphere by spending so much time at the site.  Reporting can take days, weeks or even months.  Some live in articles serve as launching pads for books.

For example, Amy Ellis Nutt was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her in depth article "The Accidental Artist", about a chiropractor who had a sudden urge to create art after he had a severe stroke, which turned into the book Shadows Bright as Glass.  Read the article at

6.  How To

This feature article is about the process of how things came about ex. a product, a service or an activity.  It is written with easy to follow instructions and includes the shortcomings of the product or service and possible warnings.  Mention where to locate supplies and refer to other sources.

For example, read about how to prepare a holiday dinner for a diabetic at

7.  Personal Experience

This feature article highlights a unusual event in the life of a writer.


8.  Humour or Satire

The purpose of this article is to entertain.  It's often geared towards a specific audience.  These types of articles are often written "on spec" which means you must submit the entire article when you pitch it.

For a funny take on Christmas, read

9.  Expose

The aim of this article is to shock or surprise the reader.  The subject is often controversial.  It includes statistics, quotes and anecdotes.

For example, read about The Do's and Don'ts of Extension Cords at

10.  Human Interest

This feature article often starts with an anecdote and is written in chronological order.

For example, read about a little boy who lost his mother in 1986 and recently found her thanks to Google Earth at

11.  Essay or Opinion

This article is often written about an important or timely subject. It is harder to sell if written by an unknown or unpublished writer.  Blogs are full of this type of article.

For example, read a pro-gun control article at

12.  Inspirational

This article focusses on how to feel good about something, offering a moral message to its readers.

For example, read about the accomplishments of autistic teenager at

13.  Historical

This article reveals events of interest to millions of people.  It focusses on a single aspect of a subject, often something new,  and is told in chronological order.  It goes beyond history, revealing a new connection to an old subject.

For example, learn about the Christmas Truce of World War I at

14.  Round Up

The author of a round up gathers a collection of information from many sources based on a common theme.  It can be filled with quotes, opinions, statistics, research, anecdotes and even recipes.

Read about Fiction Writing Tips at



Germany Reacts To Wulff Resignation - Adam Berry/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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