Many of us remember the numerous struggles we faced writing high school and/or college essays. In fact, many of us still use the outlines we were taught to structure our own writing today.

When it comes to hitting a required word count, having an outline and uniform approach can be helpful, but should be accompanied with other best practices.

DO: Make an Outline

Design the outline in a way that makes sense to you. Put thought into it. Remember—you as a Writer have your own unique set of skills and experiences, and that is why someone has hired you to write! Don’t be afraid to get silly or creative if it fits the tone and subject matter, but don’t get carried away with metaphors or other “fluffy” language.

Questions to ask: Why have you chosen the specific sections to support the topic of the article? Do you have a fun anecdote to include that is relatable and interesting?

Example of an outline. These can vary depending on personal preferences and needs.

Example of an outline. These can vary depending on personal preferences and needs.

DON’T: Repeat Yourself Repeat Yourself

This applies to repeating the same word as well as repeating the same idea throughout the article. While it is good to reinforce your main point, reread your article once you are finished and look for repetitive words or phrasings that are popping up. Self-editing can also reduce your revision return rate, which shows you are more skilled and possibly capable of taking on more projects.

Questions to ask: Is there a new way you can explain something? Are you showing the reader what you are talking about, instead of just telling them?

DO: Find Multiple Sources

Many consider three to be a good minimum number of sources for an article. Don’t set yourself strict maximums on sources. If you feel like you need to come up with another example or want to offer a new perspective on a topic, keep seeking out sources. The more official, informative sources you have, the more credibility the article has.

Questions to ask: How many sources do I have? Are they all official? Do any of them offer a new, interesting angle on an article? Have I made myself knowledgeable enough on this issue to write 700 or more words on it?

Use these tips to improve your writing and keep your articles fresh, interesting and informative, without being repetitive. Hitting a word count is a lot easier than you think, and as your skills develop, hitting higher and higher word counts will be easier and easier.