What is the Structure of a Newspaper?

What are the structural features of a newspaper?

The newspaper structure can be divided into four key sections: headline, byline, lead, body, and tail.

The inverted pyramid

Below is an example of this newspaper structure in the form of an inverted pyramid. This shape is commonly used when displaying a suggested format for a newspaper report. It starts with the essential information first, with each section containing less critical information as the pyramid progresses. This is not to say that the body of the text is not essential, but it could not exist without a lead, headline, or byline.

Below you will find each element of the inverted pyramid with information about how to write each component. You could print this out for your learners as a guide for their writing.

The Headline:

The headline grabs the reader’s attention while successfully summarising the article’s main point.

Key features of the headline:

  • It needs to be short and snappy, which can sometimes mean missing out on non-essential words such as ‘the,’ ‘a’, or ‘to.’
  • Headlines also need to be eye-catching, which can be achieved using humor, alliteration, or a pun.
  • Write in the present tense even if the event has already happened. This will help to simplify your language choices.
  • It should be written in the third person.

The Byline:

The byline is the easiest part of the entire article, as it does not require much creativity. It tells the reader who the article is by, their job role, and how to find more of their content.

The byline structure:

  • Start your byline by inserting your full name after the word ‘by.’
  • Add your specialty so that you may be a sports reporter, education reporter, or food writer, for example.
  • Then detail how the reader can find more of your opinions or your work, so add a made-up social media name, such as @JoeBloggs.

An example byline:

  • By Joe Bloggs
  • Sports Reporter
  • Social Media: @Joe.Bloggs

The Lead:

The lead could be considered an essential part of the newspaper structure. It should be one paragraph long; your audience should understand your article and what you report by reading it.

Key features of the lead paragraph:

  • It needs to be short and snappy to portray the message. You can achieve this by communicating your message in as few words as possible- make sure it makes sense.
  • The lead paragraph should explain clearly what has happened so that if your reader stops reading after the lead, they will understand the central message of your report.
  • Stick to using the past tense.
  • It should be written in the third person.

The Five Ws (and H)

Another way to ensure that your reader gets the critical messages in your report is to stick to the Five Ws in your lead paragraph. These include…

  • Who: which people were mainly affected by the events you are reporting?
  • What: are the key events that happened?
  • Where: where did those events take place?
  • Why: is there a specific reason why these events occurred?
  • When: what was the time, day, month, and year (if necessary) the events happened?
  • How: this isn’t strictly a word starting with the letter ‘w,’ but it is helpful for your lead paragraph. Explain how the events occurred or what made them able to happen.

The Body:

This is the main section of your newspaper article, so it will include lots of important information about what happened, along with more detail about what you said in your lead section. The body should be around 3-4 paragraphs long, depending on how much your teacher has instructed you to write.

Key features of the body:

  • This is the chance for you to go into as much detail as possible about what happened.
  • The most important information about the events should go first.
  • Each paragraph should be on a slightly different aspect of what happened.
  • It should be written in the third person.
  • Explain the background information that is relevant to the story.
  • Include evidence, facts, and quotes from people related to the event.
  • You could also include a quote from an expert on the topic you are reporting on.

The Tail:

The tail includes the least essential information from your report and summarizes the events.

Key features of the tail:

  • Add any extra or surrounding information about the event or related topics.
  • Include links to find extra information about the topic or other news reports.
  • You could also feature an expert or witness quote to summarize the story or imply what may unfold next.

The Newspaper Caption:

What is a newspaper caption?

They consist of a sentence describing the picture in the article and how it relates to its topic.

What is a newspaper cut-line?

This can be used underneath the newspaper caption describing what is in the picture. This is more literal and does not need to be stylized like the caption does.

Example newspaper structure


Cat flies to the Moon


By Joe Bloggs

Space Reporter

Twitter: @Joe.Bloggs


At 10 am on Tuesday, 20th April, Molly the cat flew from Birmingham to the Moon. The event occurred after she grew wings after eating some gone-off cat food.


  • Paragraph 1 – Explain how Molly managed to get to the Moon and what she did once she was there.
  • Paragraph 2 – Introduce Molly in more detail and include opinions and quotes from Molly’s owner and an animal expert.
  • Paragraph 3 – Explain how experts think the cat food resulted in Molly’s wing growth.
  • Paragraph 4 – Explain how people are trying to help Molly get home to Birmingham on planet Earth.


Include a quote from an expert talking about how other animals may be able to fly to the Moon in the future and link to websites containing information about space travel.

Newspaper structure checklist

Below you will find a checklist to go through once you have finished writing your newspaper article. First, use the newspaper structure above, and then use this checklist to double-check you have everything you need for a successful article.

  1. A catchy and snappy headline.
  2. Byline (name, specialism, social media contact).
  3. Newspaper Name.
  4. The lead paragraph contains the 5 Ws (and H).
  5. The body of the text contains 3-4 paragraphs.
  6. Details of the event.
  7. Details about who the event affected.
  8. Quotes from people involved and from experts.
  9. Correct use of punctuation when introducing and closing quotes.
  10. The use of a third person.
  11. The tail includes extra information about the topic.

Why is understanding the newspaper structure important for children?

Understanding the form of a newspaper article is handy for children of many ages. It will help them to…

  • include the critical newspaper features;
  • explore the breadth of the story they’re writing about;
  • understand that different text genres have various features;
  • understand how to adapt their writing style for different genres, audiences, and purposes;
  • explore the use of different vocabulary that’s suitable for the news article genre;
  • more readily pick out the features of news writing when reading the news.

Why is it important for children to read the news?

By reading the news, your pupils will have the chance to…

  • understand how different cultures work;
  • learn about communities from around the world;
  • learn about our systems and organizations;
  • expand their vocabulary;
  • understand that current affairs are appropriate for everyone, no matter what their interests are;
  • understand that different types of texts are adapted for different audiences and purposes;
  • learn the various language features of the news genre that can be used in their work.
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