The 5 Ws – Still Relevant

The 5 Ws - Why, Who, What, Where and When - typed on an old typewriter

The 5 Ws – are still relevant today. We have customers who create newsletters, flyers, posters, and more. (Note: in this post, I’ll use those terms interchangeably.) Often, they log into our Remote Technical Support for help when they run into an issue. Sometimes they can’t place pictures where they want them; sometimes they need help with grammar. (Today, we’ll discuss the grammar portion.) While helping them, we often find that they have not included important information. Why? Because they have forgotten the 5 Ws – Why, Who, What, Where, and When.

In this post, I’ll cover some of the common mistakes for each of these essential factors. Let’s dig in!

The 5 Ws – Why

computer seminar poster

Whenever you create a poster or flyer advertising an event, ask yourself the following question. “Why would I want to attend this event?” Using the computer seminar poster above, is there anything listed that would tell you why you should attend? Absolutely not. On the very first of the Ws – Why – this advertisement fails miserably.

What could be done to give you a reason to attend? I could add things like:

  • We’ll be discussing the latest version of Windows 11.
  • I’ll show you how to handle scam emails!
  • Printer problems? Learn how to overcome them at this seminar.
  • There’ll be a special question and answer session so bring your computer questions!
  • Don’t forget – free prizes at the end of the seminar.

If I add one or more of those statements to the poster, I’m giving the reader a reason why they should attend. Whenever you create posters, etc., be sure to follow my example! Give them a reason!

Who

When it comes to any kind of advertising, it’s important to know who your audience is. If I ran the above ad on Facebook and chose to target antique car lovers, I’d be reaching the wrong audience. I want people who are interested in computers. But, even if I chose the correct demographic, I should narrow down the field. For instance, if the seminar above was for beginners, I should say that. Or, if those attending need to meet certain criteria, that’s something to share. For example, I could say you must have an email address to participate.

Be sure to always look at your newsletter or poster and ask yourself, “Who am I trying to reach?”

What

In my sample above, it’s pretty easy to discern the “what.” It’s a computer seminar! Sometimes, figuring out the “what” in a newsletter or flyer isn’t always so easy. Does the creator want me to give money? Or, attend an event? Perhaps I’m supposed to just mark my calendar. Whatever the purpose of the flyer, make sure what you want as an end result is clear.

5 Ws – Where


There are several parts to the “Where” of an event. First, there’s the destination. Is it a physical address? Maybe it’s a web page URL? In the picture directly above, the name of the church is given but there’s no physical address listed. Do you want to lose someone’s attention quickly? Make them look up the address of some building! When you do put a physical address in, make sure you include the ZIP Code. Many people use GPS to find where they’re going and by including the ZIP, you’ll make it much easier.

There’s a second part to the “Where.” It’s where you get specific. For instance, even if I give the physical address for Trinity Church, where in the Church should a person go to find my seminar? What if you were asking people to drop off books or food? Where do they find the containers? This is a “Where” that is often missing. Don’t let that happen to you!

The Final W – When

Needless to say, knowing when something is happening is pretty important. Forget to add this to your flyer and your event may fail big time! Again, it’s important to be specific.

With this “W” I’m going to share three suggested rules. The first two have to do with the date of an event while the other covers the time.

Suggested Rule #1 – Date Formats

There are two proper ways to write dates in the United States. Here is today’s date in the two correct formats:

  • September 1, 2022
  • September 1st

For the record, September 1st, 2022 is NOT correct. (Don’t use “st” when you add the year.) If you wanted to just show the month and year, it would be September 2022. (Notice there’s no comma between the month and year.)

You can look all over the Internet and you’ll find a ton of varying opinions on this matter but I tend to agree with The Editor’s Manual. The one difference is that I always suggest superscripting the two letters that follow the day such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

Suggested Rule #2 – Day Of The Week

Whenever you use a date in a newsletter, etc., always include the day of the week. In other words, instead of writing “Our seminar will be held on September 10th,” use “Our seminar will be held on Saturday, September 10th.” While it’s true almost everyone has a phone or watch where they can check the day of the week for a date, you’re just making it easier for the person.

Suggested Rule #3 – Time

This is one area where I’ve changed my thinking. I’ve learned to accept a slightly different format because of its overwhelming usage. This “rule” covers two sections. Let’s look at the first part.

If you are writing a numerical value for a time, include the minutes even if it’s 00. In other words, you should write 10:00, not 10.

The second area is the indicator for where the time stands compared to Midday. This is where I’ve changed my mind. In previous formal writing, we used either a.m. or p.m. (The term a.m., is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ante merīdiem meaning “before midday.” The term p.m. is an abbreviation of post merīdiem, meaning “after midday.”) If someone uses “am” and “pm” they are using an incorrect format. If you’re going to write this formally, the periods need to stay.

However, there is widespread usage of another format – AM and PM. Here are some examples of the correct time you should use in a flyer, etc.

  • 10:00 AM
  • 2:15 PM
  • 12:01 PM
  • 5:00-7:00 PM

One final thought on the time. Strictly speaking, 12:00 PM is Noon. However, some people (I’m one of them) will use 12 Noon and I’m all right with that. It’s clear to me, whereas 12:00 AM and 12:00 PM are sometimes confusing.

No Matter How Good You Think You Are At Writing

There’s one final thought regarding the creation of any kind of writing. Give your creation to someone else to proofread. Let me repeat that: no matter how good you think you are at writing, give it to someone else to proofread before you send, print, or publish it. Our brains will often correct what we’ve written to appear to us the way we meant them rather than the way they are. (Note: I never post on my blog without Joyce proofing it.)

A shirt Joyce gave me that illustrates exactly what I’m saying. Find more ComputerGear stuff HERE.

Note: if you purchase after clicking one of our links, Keystone Computer Concepts may be compensated.

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About the Author

John Grubb

I've been working on computers since 1983! I love helping people resolve their computing issues and sharing preventative measures, as well.

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