One of the most popular types of articles found on the internet is the Question and Answer format, commonly known as Q & A.
This is not surprising, after all, plenty of people look to the world wide web to google their questions in the hope of finding a reliable answer that will solve their query.
The internet is full of articles that answer common questions, such as, what is the bill of rights? what is gluten? how do I download MP3? what is normal blood pressure? (These are actual popular questions people ask in google search).
In this tutorial I will be covering the following points
What is Q&A Format Article?
The Question and Answer format article usually has a Headline that states the main question and then a detailed, or short article to answer this and any related follow up questions.
Q and A article headlines usually starts with one of the following six words: Who, What, Where, When, Why, Can and How. You can find an explanation of when each one is used here.
The article could be one straight answer, or it might involve various answers that outline different methods which give similar results.
In some cases, the answer could involve a step-by-step approach.
Whichever way you answer the question, you should always support your answer with detailed reasoning and background for those readers who want to understand the reasoning behind your answer.
Apart from this, a more detailed and in-depth approach would uncover and answer further follow-up questions that might come out of the original query.
For example, the answer to what is a normal blood pressure? Could be a straight 120 over 80. On the other hand, a more useful answer would explain what each number means and what it represents.
The article might then delve deeper and explain that this range could change when people reach a certain age or in people who are suffering from a particular condition. It might mention that blood pressure is affected by a person’s hereditary genes, and so on and so on.
How to Write a Question and Answer Format Article
In the next part I’ll explain the best way to prepare and structure a Q&A format article.
Give the Answer in the first few paragraphs
First off, you should always give a straight answer to the main question you are targeting, i.e., the question you have in the Heading of your article.
As I explained in the previous tutorial; in the section on writing content for people, answering immediately is part of the inverted pyramid of value principle.
This way, you are giving the user immediate satisfaction by answering his/her question in the first few lines of the article.
Expand on Your Answer with Qualification and Explanations
You then dive deeper into the intricacies of the question by qualifying your answer and explaining your reasoning and posing and answering further sub-questions relating to the main query.
When you tackle a question post, I find the best way to approach it, is to break down the question into smaller steps and write the answer in sub-sections.
This makes it easier for you to write, but also makes it easier for the visitor to read and digest.
Do the Proper research
It goes without saying, that before you start writing your article, you should plan and research the topic properly.
The research will give you a good indication of how you will structure your article with different headings and sub-headings for each section.
Once you have these different headings, you basically have the outline of your answer ready. Then all you need to do is populate the content by filling in the paragraphs of the different sections.
I guarantee you that if you spend some time doing the research to identify how you will split your answer, you could write the article from memory, based on your research findings.
Question and Answer format Article Template
I have prepared my own template for writing Q and A articles on my website which I will present below.
Feel free to use this template for all the Q & A posts you publish on your WordPress site, and share it with any content writers you hire to write for your website.
My Question and Answer Format Template includes three sections;
- The Introduction: Most important section. This should capture reader’s attention and convince them to keep on reading by listing what you will be covering in the rest of the article.
- Body: this will contain the bulk of your content. The body should be split up in mini sections that are easily digestible by the reader.
- Conclusion: Here you might want to insert a CTA (Call-to-Action), where you ask your reader to do something (take action), such as, read another article on your site, or subscribe to your email list, or click through to a commercial partner site.
So here is a typical Template I like to use for my Q & A articles.
Introduction to Q&A Format Articles
The introduction should contain the following key elements.
- State the Question, and Answer the question immediately. This should be one to two paragraphs long.
- Grab reader’s attention by establishing trust. Avoid inserting fluff in the intro, or filler content. Instead, explain why readers should trust you, and in the same sentence mention something to convince them to continue reading on. This part should not be longer than two paragraphs.
Tip: Establishing authority can easily be done by starting a sentence with; ‘as someone who has faced this issue for some years, I find that …’ . If you are qualified in the subject, you can say, ‘as a qualified xyz….‘
- A short preview of what the reader can expect to see in the next section.
Again, not more than 1 or 2 paragraphs, or preferably a bullet point list, which outlines the sub-sections that you will be covering in the main body to answer the question and any secondary questions that arise out of the main question.
The Body of Q & A Format Articles
In the body you should try and include as many H2 or H3 heading sections as necessary, and in each section
- explain the issue the reader might be facing
- explain the consequences of this issue, in other words, what the problem might cause.
- give the solution to the problem,
- include any images or videos
- go into further relevant details, as necessary.
If necessary, add more sub-sections by using H3 and H4 headings.
Conclusion to Q&A Format Articles
In the conclusion you can summarize the main concepts of your article. I recommend that the conclusion is no longer than three paragraphs.
The conclusion is also the ideal place to insert a Call-to-Action. In other words, guide your visitors on what to do next.
This could be to read another article on your website, or go to a partner site, or subscribe to your email list.
This is not a necessity, especially in the beginning when you don’t have an email list or plenty of related articles where to direct your readers to. However, as you grow your site, remember to come back to these posts and add any call-to-action you think might fit well here.
Include some examples in your Q&A Format Template
In the final part of your template you should insert a few exemplary posts that you came across when browsing through the internet.
This can help you understand better how to structure your own post and will also help you convey how you want your article structured if you outsource your content writing to third parties.
In order to ensure any writers, you hire follow the structure you want for your articles you will need to provide them with this template.
So, having examples of other types of content that you like, even ones from your own website that you might have created yourself, will give them a better understanding of the structure you want and the way you like your articles to be written.
Q&A Template Done. What Next?
The above template is an outline that I like to use for my Q & A posts. Obviously, you don’t need to follow this template exactly.
Feel free to experiment and create your own template with new ideas or methods that you feel comfortable and confident with.
In the next tutorial I will show you how to write List type content, aka, Listicles.