How to Write a Backgrounder: From Basics to Details

How to write a backgrounder? If you have a request to prepare a backgrounder, you might be rather confused, and for a reason. To start with, not everybody knows what a backgrounder is, and moreover, not everybody knows how to write it correctly. That is why we have selected all possible information that will be helpful in writing an efficient and useful backgrounder.

What Is a Backgrounder and Why Is It Used?

A backgrounder is a paper where you provide additional information about another paper. You might be wondering why it is needed? It would be much more logical to write a paper with all relevant details, and then, there will be no need to write another paper, practically about the same. Many freelance writers believe so, and to some extent, that might be logical. However, in a case with a backgrounder, things work differently.

That might look like a complete waste of time, but it isn’t. As you can see from the backgrounder definition, the things are more complicated than they seem to be. For example, when a media company issues a press release, it should be short. In most cases, press releases, as well as some other documents, give just the main information.

Such papers are targeted at busy people and are aimed to get their attention. However, such kinds of papers don’t provide details. Once a businessman, a politician or any other person gets interested in the media paper, he will read the backgrounder. And the backgrounder is the paper which describes all that has been told in another paper but details. Now, the target of the backgrounder is more precise, isn’t it?

Yes, speaking generally, we can say, that, for example, a press release can be regarded or rather compared with a plan, while a backgrounder should be compared rather with the text itself. A press-release gives the general outline, while the backgrounder is targeted to those, for whom the details are important. Is the idea clear now?

Background Information in Essay: Writing Guide

Many believe that a backgrounder is something like giving background information in an essay. However, this is not completely correct. A background statement isn’t an essay. Most of your backgrounders are documents written for a media organization. That is why all of them should be written in the AP (Associated Press) style. That is a particular style used for journalistic publications, in other words, for the press. It is one of the differences between your paper and a typical essay.

Another difference is the use of headings and sub-headings. And don’t think that they should be creative! You are writing your background statement for busy people, so, all headings and sub-headings should indicate the information that will be given in the paragraph clearly. Moreover, all headings and subheadings should be very clear and easy-to-understand.

Another feature of a backgrounder is the presence of graphics. Make it very easy-to-understand, as well. Such materials should rather illustrate information than create complications.

Backgrounder Format Variety

The backgrounder format might differ from a paper to a paper. All depends on the content of the main paper. In the backgrounder, you just give details. There, you can mention some sentence about the organization history, its principles of work and values. You can provide citations of famous economists and market analysts if you are writing about an article that describes the economic situation in the country. Basically, the topic doesn’t depend on you absolutely. Your topic will coincide with the issue of the main paper.

Backgrounder Outline General Standards

Then, if the topic doesn’t depend on you, what is possible to tell about the backgrounder outline? Does the paper consist of those standard parts of an essay? Does it have its own structure? If the paper has its own structure, what kind of structure is it?

The typical backgrounder might include the following parts:

  • Information about an organization;
  • Information about an event;
  • Statistical or any other kind of data;
  • Information about people participating or people who are important, in one way or another;
  • Explanation why the event is important enough to be talked about;
  • Some interesting or even intriguing facts, based on which journalists can create their own stories.

As you can see, a backgrounder differs from an essay rather significantly. It is an entirely different kind of paper, written in a special style and consisting of completely different parts. Moreover, when you are writing a backgrounder, you have much less creativity and freedom.


Every freelancer needs to know how to write a backgrounder. This kind of paper is used in the media field, so, it has completely different features than other types of papers, and the requirements for it are very different.