Table of contents

SAPIENS Public Writing Training

A Digital Booklet for Your Publishing Journey

This training will add layers of knowledge and understanding about writing for general publics, while keeping you centered on your ideas and values.


Welcome to the SAPIENS Public Writing Training Program. We created this self-directed course because we’ve seen the positive and meaningful impacts of anthropologists sharing their ideas with a broad global readership. We also recognize that the storytelling style in newspapers, magazines, and online publications—and the path to getting published in these outlets—is very different from what you may be used to in academic publishing.

So, we harnessed our experiences and insider knowledge as editors, journalists, and anthropologists. We combined these with writer testimonials and examples of successful anthropological writing from a variety of publications. We distilled it all into seven chapters that will help you write compelling stories for popular publications.

In these chapters, you will:

  • Recognize the value and power of sharing your research and perspectives with public audiences.
  • Unpack the step-by-step process of writing for news outlets and popular magazines, from pitching your idea to editing drafts.
  • Develop the skills to turn a story idea into a concise, compelling story pitch ready to send to editors.
  • Learn how to write an engaging journalistic article, personal essay, or op-ed through time-honored techniques and impactful examples.
  • Absorb elements that make public writing effective, including an attention-grabbing introduction, a clear encapsulation of the main point, colorful and well-paced storytelling, and jargon-free insights that are relevant to general audiences.
  • Consider best practices for navigating ethical issues and ensuring your writing is inclusive, sensitive, and factual.
  • Survey habits of successful writers, including how to find resources, overcome writer’s block, self-edit, and promote your published writing.

We recommend setting aside at least an hour to work through each chapter, although your pace may vary. Each chapter also contains optional activities that require a longer time investment to complete—including crafting a pitch, writing a rough draft, and developing effective habits.


Project director

  • Eshe Lewis


  • Keridwen Cornelius


  • Bridget Alex
  • Chip Colwell
  • Maddie Donachie
  • Emily Sekine
  • Christine Weeber

Layout and Artwork

  • Studio Airport

Funded by

  • John Templeton Foundation

Start with Chapter 1

Why Write for the Public?

Open Chapter 1
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