As a trade magazine editor for about 20 years, I wrote “thumbnail” biographies.
Most of the thumbnails I wrote were about 200-250 words, and usually discussed a person who had either invented a new product or been named to leadership of a company. Here’s the format I followed:
= Primary information — I began with a sentence highlighting the individual’s name, plus his/her discovery or new position. Example: “David Author created the Paragraph Link System to help students write better, and the concept has now been purchased by a national organization.”
= Background — This offers reasons the inventor created a product, or details the jobs a person held prior to the position described in this story.
= Future — How has the inventor changed the industry, or what are the new executive’s plans?
= Contact info — Provides whom the reader can call or e-mail for more information on the subject.
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Rix Quinn is a former magazine editor and now a syndicated columnist for over 100 weekly newspapers. He holds degrees from Texas Christian University and California State University.
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