The “Inverted Pyramid” writing style has long been associated with journalism, and is widely regarded as one of the most effective ways to grab a reader’s attention. While the exact origin of the Inverted Pyramid style is up for debate, most agree that it was used throughout most journalistic enterprises throughout the 20th century, and continues to this day.
Why the Inverted Pyramid writing style?
The Inverted Pyramid is based on the idea that media in general – but journalistic media in particular – must capture the attention of potential readers quickly. The theory is that there is such an overabundance of media for readers to consume that anyone wishing to gather their attention must “get to the point” as quickly as possible. Unlike a novel, which typically has a fair amount of background and character development before getting to the “meat” of the story, journalistic articles have a very low committal rate among potential readers (particularly when compared to novels which have presumably been recommended and then borrowed or purchased by the reader).
With an Inverted Pyramid, a successful article with grab the reader’s attention right away, and will gradually add more details further down in the piece. The name “Inverted Pyramid” refers to the theoretical shape of content written in such a format; namely, the biggest and most important information at the top, and the smaller, more nuanced details at the bottom.
How to write in the Inverted Pyramid style
The general idea when writing in the Inverted Pyramid style is to put the most important (and hopefully interesting) information at the very beginning, and gradually add in additional details that are still relevant but are not as important or engaging as the earlier content.
Before the article even begins, there should be an attention-grabbing and descriptive headline, often followed by a more descriptive (but still attention-grabbing) subhead. The headline and subhead should provide readers with a sense of what the article is about, and the general conclusion that the author is trying to make.
The article itself should begin with an attention-grabbing statement or anecdote, and provide a high-level explanation of the overall purpose of the article. Readers will be able to quickly discern whether the information is relevant to them, and continue reading if it is. The idea is to get to the point immediately, and not worry about stringing the audience along in an effort to get them to read the entire article to find the information they (may or may not) need. As the article continues, it should gradually add in additional details that support the conclusion in the first paragraph.
The paragraphs within the article should also follow a format similar to that of the overall article. This means opening all (or most) paragraphs with a main point, and adding supporting sentences in the rest of the paragraph. Ideally, most paragraphs (or subsections if the article is formatted in such a manner) should have just one main point.
Why the Inverted Pyramid writing style is best for the Internet
The Inverted Pyramid style is the best for Internet content for many of the same reasons that it is an effective style for traditional journalism. Websites are in fierce and constant competition for the attention of readers, who themselves are inundated with an endless quantity of content on the Internet. In addition, Internet users have the ability to quickly change the website they are reading from; further emphasizing the importance of gaining their attention and interest right away.
The Internet also provides a unique advantage for writing in the Inverted Pyramid style. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the general term used to describe Internet content which is designed to improve that particular website or webpage’s placement on the results pages of search engines (i.e. Google). These search engine results pages, or SERPs, can have a massive impact on the amount of traffic and legitimacy a website has. The Inverted Pyramid writing style formats content so that that search engine algorithms value content written in such a way. Part of the reason for this is because the Inverted Pyramid inherently puts keywords towards the top of the article (as well as in the headline and subhead), but it is also believed that search engine algorithms specifically value the Inverted Pyramid writing style because those who write in this style tend to have a higher standard of writing. After all, the Inverted Pyramid writing style is not the essay format taught in school, and can be counter-intuitive to those who are not familiar with the advantages it offers.
The Inverted Pyramid writing style is one of the most effective tools available to writers, and particularly marketing writers, on the Internet. Not only does it utilize a tried-and-true method of grabbing the attention of readers, but it also inherently makes web pages more appealing to search engines, ensuring that the greatest number of Internet users find and read the content.