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Before really diving in, we should define our terms better, starting with the word article. Although the lines are blurry, here are a few traits that are common to most articles. First, an article is written down. You'll sometime see things called video articles or audio articles, but those are rare. Also, articles are nonfiction; that is, they are about the real world rather than being pure products of imagination. Now, that's not to say that an article can be opinionated, but the point of an article, by and large, is to describe real-world phenomena.
Fictional pieces go by other names, such as stories or poetry. Articles tend to be part of a collection, for example in magazines or journals. In fact, the word article means that it's part of something that all fits together. Just as articles of clothing comprise a wardrobe, written articles comprise a larger work. Articles are typically from 300 to 8,000 words long. A piece that shorter is usually called a blurb. Any longer and it starts to stand on its own.
In my own work, the wide majority have been between 500 and 1,500 words. Articles are usually a one-to-many form of communication. That is, they're created by one person to be consumed by many people, for example the people who read a magazine. Finally, for the purposes of this course, I'm going to say that articles are published pieces that fit all these criteria. That makes them different from posts in your personal journal in the sense that articles go through a publishing process that takes them out of your hands.
Now, these definitions satisfy me at this particular moment in time, but the definition of an article is always changing, and we don't have to go back very far to see its evolution. In the '80s and early '90s messages and online bulletin boards were called articles as well and some people still use the term for blog posts. Now, blogs are an interesting crossover area with articles, especially as print media continues to move online. Blog posts tend to be shorter though, and less formal than articles, but the two worlds are merging.
Most of what you see in this course also applies to blog posts. But even if your work ends up in blog form, I think it's a good idea to be grounded in article rating. It's a traditional and precise art and the discipline you gain by learning it will serve you well in all other writing forms.
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