11 Types of Magazine Articles That Editors Love to Publish

Here are the two most popular types of articles that dominate the field of magazine publishing, plus descriptions of roundups, personality profiles, research shorts, human interest, and “how to” articles. Perfect for freelance writers who need to spark their creativity and get more article assignments.

types of magazine articles to write“Two types of articles continue to dominate the changing field of magazine publishing,” writes Nancy Hamilton in Magazine Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide to Success. “The personality profile and the how-to story with its self-help variant. Together, they account for an estimated 72% of magazine feature material. Although Chapters 9 and 10 cover how-to’s and personality profiles in greater depth, the following breakdown and brief description of all article types will suffice to get you going.”

Are you a freelance writer searching for different types of magazine articles to write? Then you need to learn how to slant your writing to the target audience, publisher, and editor. Books like Magazine Writing – and Writer’s Market, which I link to at the end of this article – are essential to your success. Here in this blog post, I briefly describe 11 types of magazine articles to show you what editors look for. You’ll learn the basics, and maybe even come up with a few good story ideas to write about. But if you really want to make money as a freelance writer, you need to invest in your own education.

Here’s a tip from Natalie Goldberg about being a successful writer: “I hear people say they’re going to write. I ask, when? They give me vague statements,” she writes in Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. “Indefinite plans get dubious results.”

What are your writing goals, and how will you achieve them? Have you made a specific plan? After you read through these different types of articles to write for magazines, you need to take time to create goals for yourself. If you have questions about writing, feel free to ask me in the comments section below! I make no guarantees, but I might have a thought or two to share.

11 Different Types of Magazine Articles

I’ve been published in several different magazines (such as More, Reader’s Digest, Chatelaine, Women’s Health), and have written each one of these different types of magazine articles…except for the exposé. My favorite is writing research shorts for magazines – but they are just that (too short!) and thus don’t pay much.

As you read through the following types of articles, think about which one you most like to read. This will help you decide what type of article to research and write. The best writing comes from writers who are enjoying their work and passionate about their topic, so don’t hesitate to choose the project that lights your fire.

1. “How To” Articles

“Easily the most popular and the shortest and easiest to write, the how-to article with its self-help variant gives instructions for how to do or be something or how to do it better,” writes Hamilton in Magazine Writing.

“How to” articles:

  • Make a rousing promise of success
  • Describe what you need in easy to follow instructions
  • Give step-by-step directions (sometimes with subtitles)
  • Include shortcomings or warnings
  • Tell how to locate supplies
  • Give proofs and promises
  • Make referrals to other sources

Examples of “how to” articles are: “How to Write Magazine Articles That Editors Love to Publish” or “How Freelance Writers Earn a $100,000 Every Year” or How to Think Like a Magazine Editor – 8 Tips for Writers. “How to” articles are my favorite type of feature articles; they simply tell readers how to do something.

Tip for freelance writers: Some magazine or newspaper editors require writers to submit their own photos for how-to articles. Before you accept an assignment from an editor, ask what their photo policy is.

2. Profile and Interview Articles

This popular type of article describes a contemporary or historical person – but a profile doesn’t have to be about a human being! Animals, communities, nations, states, provinces, companies, associations, churches can all be profiled (but not necessarily interviewed).

Personality profiles and interview articles:

  • Have different definitions. In a personality profile, you use additional sources, such as friends, family, kids, neighbors, colleagues. In an interview, you talk to the source him or herself – preferably in person.
  • Can have a theme or focus.
  • Can be presented as a “Q & A” or a written article.
  • Require strong interviewing and perception skills for the “best” information
11 Types of Magazine Articles That Editors Love to Publish

11 Types of Magazine Articles to Write for Magazines

Examples of profiles or interview articles are: “The Real Natalie Goldberg and Her Real Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott Shares Her Secrets for Writing Different Types of Magazine Articles.” Profiles and interview are two different types of magazine articles to write.

About this type of magazine article Hamilton says, “The most successful personality profile allows the reader to experience the story directly without having to filter that experience through the ‘I’ of an unknown writer. Despite this common-sense perspective, many magazines today prefer the ‘I’ approach for personality profiles.” Why? Because most editors want to encourage a personal relationship between the magazine and the reader by addressing them personally.

5 Writing Secrets From William Shakespeare is not an example of an interview article. I was too little to interview Shakespeare before he died.

3. Informative or Service Articles

Informative articles are also know as “survey articles.” They often offer information about a specific field, such as sports medicine, health writing, ocean currents, politics, etc. Service articles are similar, but often used as shorter fillers. Service articles offer a few pieces of good advice or tips, but aren’t usually long or involved.

Informative or service articles:

  • Focus on one unique aspect, or the “handle”
  • Describe what-to, how-to, when-to, why-to, etc.
  • Answer the journalist’s who, what, when, where, why, and how questions
  • Can end with a “how-to” piece as a sidebar

Examples of this type of magazine article include: “How to Write Query Letters for Magazines” or “How to Make an Editorial Calendar for Writers” or “11 Types of Magazine Articles to Write for Magazines.”

The informative or service article is similar to the how-to type of magazine article. I’d love to write a service article for the SPCA, but I’m too busy with my blogs to pitch article ideas to editors.

4. The Alarmer-Exposé

“A Reader’s Digest staple, the alarmer-exposé is designed to alert and move the reader to action,” writes Hamilton in Magazine Writing. “Well-researched and heavy with documentation, this type of magazine article takes a stance and adopts a particular point of view on a timely and often controversial issue. Its purpose is to expose what’s wrong here.”


  • Shocks or surprises readers
  • Includes statistics, quotes, anecdotes
  • Can range from how extension cords can kill to new info on Watergate

Freelance writing tip: “This article is best written by an established writer who is skilled in reporting an issue and building a case without flagrant – and apparant – bias,” says Hamilton.

Examples of an exposé magazine article are: “Stephen King’s Ghostwriter Reveals Secret Writing Career” or “95% of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing is From a Ghostwriter!” Those aren’t actual feature articles that were written by freelance writers – they’re just examples of the different types of magazine articles.

5. Human Interest Magazine Articles:

  • Usually start with an anecdote
  • Are often chronologically organized

Examples of human interest magazine articles are: “Anne Lamott Share Her Experience as a Single Working Writer” or “Mark Twain’s Great-Grandaughter Finds Her Writing Niche.” This type of feature article interests the majority of readers of a particular magazine.

People is one of the most popular magazines on the market today, and it specializes in this type of article. If you find someone who has done or experienced something extraordinary – and if your writing skills are pretty good – you might consider sending a query letter to the editors at People.

6. Essay, Narrative, or Opinion Articles

This is my least favorite type of magazine article or blog post to write! I’m not a big writer of personal stories (nor do I like to read autobiographies, biographies, or personal blogs). I’d much rather encourage readers by sharing information – such as these 11 different types of articles to write magazines 🙂

Essay, narrative, or opinion articles:

  • Usually revolve around an important or timely subject (if they’re to be published in a newspaper or “serious” magazine)
  • Are harder to sell if you’re an unknown or unpublished writer
  • Can be found on blogs all over the internet

Here’s some great writing advice from Hamilton: “The narrative uses fiction technique to recreate the tension, the setting, the emotion – the drama – of something that actually happened. The article must have implications and ramifications that are meaningful to a reader. It must be relevant to what’s going on today – one event that relates to the larger whole.”

Examples of this type of magazine article are: “What I Think of Natalie Goldberg’s Decision to Retire From Her Writing Career” or “Anne Lamott’s Most Famous Writing Mistakes.”

If you feel overwhelmed with all these types of magazine articles, read How to Write When You Have No Ideas.

7. Humor or Satire Articles

Humor or satire articles are really hard to write. I just read today – in the University of Alberta’s Trail magazine – that it takes the Simpsons’ writers and staff SIX MONTHS to write and produce a single episode! That’s because humor writing seems easy and fast, but it’s actually the hardest type of writing to learn…not to mention master.

Humor or satire articles:

  • Usually have a specific audience, such as the readers of The Onion
  • Are usually written on spec (that is, you submit the whole article before the editors or publishers will accept it for publication in the magazine)

Examples of humor or satire articles might include:  “Ode to Stephen King’s Typewriter” or “What Margaret Laurence Ate the Day She Started Writing Articles for Magazines.”

how to write funny magazine articlesRead How To Write Funny: Your Serious, Step-By-Step Blueprint For Creating Incredibly, Irresistibly, Successfully Hilarious Writing by Scott Dikkers if you want to learn how to write humor or satire articles for magazines.

Dikkers is a master of comic writing; in this book he lays out a clear system for creating humor that gets big, “milk-coming-out-of-your-nose” laughs, reliably and repeatably. He shares the three sure-fire ways to generate material, 11 kinds of jokes and how to tell them, the secret to permanently overcoming writer’s block, and more tips, tricks and techniques for writing funny articles for magazines and more.

8. Historical Articles

What can I say? A historical article describes a moment in time. Or an epoch. Or an era. Or an eon.

Historical articles:

  • Reveal events of interest to millions (which means at least one of my examples wouldn’t work as this type of article)
  • Focus on a single aspect of the subject
  • Are organized chronologically
  • Tell readers something new
  • Go beyond history to make a current connection

Examples of this type of magazine article include: “The Typewriter Mark Twain First Used” or “How Freelance Writers Submitted Articles Before Typewriters Were Invented” or “How the Use of the Word ‘Tweet’ Evolved From 2005 to Now.”

9. Inspirational Magazine Articles

  • Describe how to feel good or how to do good things
  • Can describe how to feel good about yourself – this type of article can work for anyone from writers to plumbers to pilots
  • Offer a moral message
  • Focus on the inspirational point

Examples of different types of inspirational articles for magazines are: “How You Can Change the World With Your Writing Career” or “13 Tips to Improve Your Writing Confidence.”

This is probably my second most favorite type of feature article to write. It’s definitely the post I write most often on my Blossom blogs!

10. Round-Up Magazine Articles

  • Gather a collection from many sources
  • Focus on one theme
  • Offer quotations, opinions, statistics, research studies, anecdotes, recipes, etc.

The Round-Up was one of my favorite types of magazine articles to write when I was freelancing. Examples of round up articles are: “12 Fiction Writing Tips From Authors and Editors” or “1,001 Types of Articles to Write for Magazines.” I enjoy writing round-ups because I can squeeze in lots of information in 1,000 words.

11. Research Shorts

  • Describe current scientific information
  • Are usually less than 250 words long
  • Are often written on spec (at least by me)
  • Are fast, effective ways to earn money as a freelance writer – if you can find the right markets

Research Shorts for the “Front of the Book” are those little blurbs of scientific research you see at the beginning of many magazines. Examples of these types of articles for magazines include: “How Alliteration Affects Your Memory” or “What Anne Lamott’s Writing Does to Your Brain Waves.”

Shorts aren’t really a type of magazine article, but they’re a great way to get your foot in the door and learn what articles editors will pay to publish.

Help Selling Your Magazine Articles for Freelance Writers

articles to write for magazinesWriter’s Market Deluxe Edition 2017: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published is the best way to find magazines and markets to write for. This edition includes all-new material devoted to the business and promotion of freelance and other types of writing.

I love Writer’s Market because they always share the secrets of six-figure freelancers, how to create a productive home office, and apps that make freelancing easier, etc. Plus, these editors teach writers how to build relationships in the publishing business, use video to promote your work, and remove obstacles from your path to freelance writing success.

Writer’s Digest Magazine

different types of articles writers digestWriter’s Digest is my favorite magazine about writing, and a subscription is both motivating and informative. The more you learn about freelance writing – including the business of writing – the easier it’ll be to remember the different types of magazine articles you can write for magazines.

If you want to be a freelance writer, you have to do more than just learn about the different types of magazine articles to write for magazines. You need to research professional writing organizations, learn how to write query letters for editors, and where to pitch your ideas.

Write like you have a message from the King!

Write strong and true, fellow scribes. If you have any thoughts or questions about writing these types of feature articles for magazines and other publications, please comment below…


31 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    Dear Newbie Magazine Writer,

    Here’s an article that will give you a few pointers:

    How to Write a Query Letter and Get Your Article Published

    Let me know what happens after you pitch your query to the magazine editor! It sounds like a winner 🙂

  2. Newbie Magazine Writer says:

    I have a brilliant idea for an article, and I believe it’s perfect for the publication I have in mind. I just don’t know how to write a query letter to a magazine. Can you help me by giving me a formula or structure on how to pitch my idea to the editor? I haven’t done much research or reading, but I found this article on the different types of magazine articles helpful. Thank you for any direction you can offer!

  3. Sneha says:

    Nice ☺☺☺ would give some topics of Articles. ..?

  4. Laurie says:

    Dear Lokesh,

    Your first step is to learn how to write English really, really well. Take ESL courses, read books, practice writing, do whatever it takes to learn how to write English.

    At the same time, you need to learn the business of freelance writing. It’s a career, not a hobby. It takes time, dedication, and energy.

    Here’s one place to start:

    How to Become a Freelance Writer

    Read books about freelance writing, pitching articles to editors, and becoming a journalist. Rolling Stone is an amazing magazine and it’s difficult to get published in it — but you CAN do it!

    Take it one step at a time. Keep learning English – you’re doing great so far – and keep reading articles, blogs, and books about becoming a freelance writer for magazines.

    You can do it! Remember that nothing worth having is easy. Everything good in life takes hard work. If it was easy, everyone would do it.


  5. lokesh says:

    Thanks for the help Ressa, I am just a student and I confuse for my future because every time I thinking a new Idea like what I want or which field is good for me and finnaly I diciede what I want….!!
    Article writer and for me I think it’s a very good choice but still I little confused that how I write my first artical, actually the problem is that my mind is confuse that what is a good topic for me….
    cause I need a very new or u can say a “fresh” topic which is never be write buy anyone
    And unlucky my first problem is that I am not good in English as well as in grammar so, If u don’t mind any u tell me any idea how to start my dream work ????
    And Yaa one more thing I want to tell my dream company also which I want to work with and the name is (rolling stone) so u think in future there is any chance to get or touch my dream???

  6. Laurie says:

    Thanks Ressa, I appreciate your thoughts! A profile is one type of feature article, so I meant what I originally wrote 🙂

    There sure are a lot of choices for magazine articles…but my favorite is still blogging. I love the freedom and immediacy of writing blog posts, without having to worry about pitching article ideas to editors. But, blogging doesn’t offer as much exposure as writing for magazines does. Unless of course you write for the HuffPost!

  7. Your writing is very easy to read! Before I knew it, I’d read several of your posts (although I’m supposed to be writing instead).

    Thank you for this spectacular blog. These tips and ideas are really helping a lot! As a newbie in the freelance writing field, I’m feeling a little lost, but now I think my feet are finally touching firm ground. I’m going to start looking around for writing jobs in more places than just Upwork and Freelancer.

    Thank you very much! You deserve two cookies. 🙂

    PS In the first point under the heading “Profile and Interview Articles”, did you mean “interview” when “you interview the source him or himself”?

    >>In a profile, you use additional sources, such as friends, family, kids, neighbors, colleagues. In a profile {interview}, you interview the source him or herself.<<

  8. ANJU MURALI says:

    it is very helpful to know different types of articles I can write for magazines, thank you.

  9. cite says:

    am a young writer.. am quite confused about what to write and how to start…… I find your post very helpful

  10. Rob @ MoneyNomad says:

    I stumbled across your site when searching for affiliate marketing tips and have just spent the last 30 minutes reading through a plethora of your articles! I am very particular with you a bookmark, but your content is amazing! As a business enthusiast turned content marketer/blogger, I am seeking out tips to develop phenomenal content – and your site is probably my favorite to date! Thank you for your tremendous value and I thoroughly enjoy your writing style. I hope I can emulate your writing to keep my writing engaging and unpromotional sounding. You guide the reader to your conclusions openly, and I really enjoy that. Anyway, thanks again and I will inevitable be back – so keep writing!

  11. Laurie says:

    Thank you for your comments! I hope this list of the different types of articles to write for magazines was helpful. I always tend to write feature articles, and forget about the value of shorts and other types of articles.

  12. Albanus Njoroge says:

    I finally found inspiration, thanks to your invaluable work. I must admit i was stuck in my second assignment of my creative writing distance learning course from Writers bureau UK. I reside in Nairobi, Kenya

  13. Amandah says:

    Thank for you for this extensive list. I have a couple of magazines that I’d like to pitch. These will come in handy.

  14. Moses Ombogo says:

    Thanks for your good work.I have really benefited in my research.Iam an up-coming journalist student at Mt Kenya university in Thika.Keep it up!

  15. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Thanks for your comments, Phoebe! I’ve been to Thika, in Kenya 🙂 I lived in Nairobi for three years, teaching at Rosslyn Academy. My close friend went to church in Thika, and I went with her a couple times. Thika sorta scared me a little, but my friend was totally at home there.

    Good like with your writing and journalism career!

  16. phoebe wanjohi from Thika Kenya says:

    Writing feature articles is one of my favourite unit so far in journalism and mass media.Reading your work has helped me move a step ahead

  17. phoebe wanjohi says:

    its great work that you are doing.I have learnt alot from you

  18. Thanks for your comment; I appreciate it! I taught feature and magazine writing to high school students, and wish I had this information back then. 🙂

  19. Abas_id. says:

    I’v bn teaching feature & magazine article writing for some time now, but I find your post quite insightful.

  20. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen says:

    Chicago Blogger, I’m glad this article is helpful, and appreciate your feedback! 🙂
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Starting a Magazine Writing Career – How to Make Money as a Freelancer =-.

  21. Chicago Blogger says:

    This post is a good resource for brainstorming ideas for new articles… quite helpful. thanks!
    .-= Chicago Blogger´s last blog post ..Training for Feature Writing =-.

  22. Ellie Campbell says:

    My dream is to write a feature magazine article that is on the front cover of Oprah Magazine. Thanks for this writing information, because it helped me figure out what type of article to write!

    Ellie C.

  23. Laurie PK says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sarah — and I love the title of your last blog post.
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..Quips and Tips From J.K. Rowling =-.

  24. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the great article! It’s sooo helpful and informative.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog post ..Write Often = Write Well =-.

  25. Laurie PK says:

    Thanks for your comment, Lisa — I appreciate the specific, positive feedback!
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..8 Different Tips for Promoting Your Blog =-.

  26. Lisa (lablady) says:

    Great post! Thanks for the information, very helpful. Btw, I discovered your site and blog last week and I’m quite impressed. Love the clarity and forthrightness in everything you write. It is appreciated!
    .-= Lisa (lablady)´s last blog post ..The Importance Of Laughter =-.

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