Five Ws

The Five Ws (sometimes referred to as Five Ws and How, 5W1H, or Six Ws)[1] are questions whose answers are considered basic in information gathering or problem solving. They are often mentioned in journalism (cf. news style), research and police investigations.[2] 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:[1]

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

Some others commonly add, how, to the list.[1]

Each question should have a factual answer—facts necessary to include for a report to be considered complete.[3] Importantly, none of these questions can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no".

In the United Kingdom (excluding Scotland), the Five Ws are used in Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 lessons (ages 7–14).[4]