The 5W and H Rule of Writing a Composition

The 5W and H Rule of Writing a Composition
The 5W and H rule enables you to gather ideas and plan your writing

Writing composition is examinable in Kenya and earns a primary school student a total of 50%. It should not be as difficult as most students make it sound. Truth be told, it is one of the easiest exams a student will ever have to sit because most of them have no trouble sharing stories with their peers.

One of the things that I keep sharing with children learning how to write is to write the way they would speak. Once you try to complicate things, writing becomes harder. For instance, I don’t normally use ‘fancy’ words when I am engaging in normal conversation. I do the same thing when writing. I use the words I would use in a normal conversation. That enables me to write fluently.

Today we will learn how to use the 5W and H rule of writing a composition.

But first, what is 5W & H?

5W stands for who, what, when, where and why.

Can you guess what H stands for?

H stands for how!

5W & H is a technique used by news reporters and it can help you write better. Using 5W & H helps you to gather important information needed to compose your story or composition. The information gathered should be concrete enough for someone to understand what you have written. That is why using 5W & H is very important.

The 5W and H Rule of Writing a Composition

Before we can delve deeper into how to use the 5W & H rule for composition writing, let’s explore its origin. According to a report by, the 5W rule has been used by newspapers for over 100 years.

Many years ago, people used to communicate through telegraph wire which required sharing the most important information first. That is how who, what, when, where and why came into play. Seeing that it was an effective method of communication, newspapers adopted it.

Similarities between students and reporters

News reporters often provide key facts of what they reporting using 5W & H. They often have a deadline to beat. This puts them under a lot of pressure to finish and submit their story within a certain timeframe. Lastly, they have to adhere to a given word count, for example, 500, 1200, 2000, etc.

Similarly, a composition exam requires a student to write the key facts when writing a story. A student is also required to write and submit their completed composition or story within a set timeframe. In Kenya’s case, a student is tasked with writing at least 500 words within 40 minutes.

Topic: My Most Memorable Drama Festivals  

Who: Our school (insert name of school)

What: Has emerged as the best performer during the 2018 drama festivals and will be performing to the president

When: Wednesday 25 April, 2018

Where: State House

Why: To showcase the items that won our school top place

How: Travel by bus and flanked by the presidential escort and security escort

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How to use the 5W and H rule

composition writing
Take time to plan before you start writing

I hope the above example has helped you to see how you can use the 5W & H rule. However, this post would be incomplete without adding an example of what the 5W & H is all about.

When is not just about the day and date. You should also include the time of the day. You should also indicate whether the event is going to take the whole day or just a few minutes.

Much as Where represents the location, it is much more than just indicating the name of the place. It may help the reader if you include directions to get there and what the environment is like.

If the Who is an institution, say your school, it is still advisable to include the full name. Do not assume that because your teacher knows it, it is information that should be omitted. It is the name of a prominent person or older than you, provide the appropriate titles e.g. the First Lady, Mister (Mr) etc.

The What is the event and what is happening. The Why should give the reader a reason why an event was happening.

In conclusion

Now that you have learned how to use the 5W and H rule for writing a composition, why don’t you do an exercise? Write an imaginary trip to a wedding and make it as interesting and eventful as possible. Once you are done, you can ask your mom or dad to email it to us.

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