Five Ws, Five Ws, and one H, or the Six Ws are questions whose answers are considered basic in information-gathering. They are often mentioned in journalism (cf. news style), research, and police investigations. They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. According to the principle of the Five Ws, a report can only be considered complete if it answers these questions starting with an interrogative word:
Who did that?
When did it take place?
Where did it take place?
Why did that happen?
Some authors add a sixth question, “how”, to the list, though “how” can also be covered by “what”, “when”, or “where”:
How did it happen?
Each question should have a factual answer — facts necessary to include a report to be considered complete. Importantly, none of these questions can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
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