The Five Ws (sometimes referred to as Five Ws and How, 5W1H, or Six Ws) are questions by journalists that are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. The Five Ws are often mentioned in journalism, research and especially police investigations. The Five Ws constitute a mnemonic 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:


Some authors consider a sixth question important to add to the list:

How … How did it happen?

What, When, and Where are usually the easiest to obtain, and the most important as a minimum for a published report. For example, “Who” might be left out for ethical reasons.

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