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Publishing Disclaimer: In all of its publications and products, NCO Journal presents professional information. However, the views expressed therein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Army University, the Department of the US Army, or any other agency of the US Government.


What is an anecdote? Merriam-Webster Online defines it as a short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident. They’re personal stories that make your article more relatable to the audience (your fellow time-constrained NCOs).

Why Use Anecdotes?

Anecdotes are used to give a personal perspective, illustrate a point, make people think about something, make them laugh, or tie-in personal investment into a story. Maybe something that happened in your life or career as an NCO in the Army inspired you to go in a certain direction and you’d like to share the story with your peers. Example: The Look of Leadership (, or His Name Was Bourdo (

Formal articles can also be livened up with anecdotes that show how the information you’re sharing works in practice, and why people need to know about or think about the topic. You can also use anecdotes to amuse or entertain but keep the focus of your article in mind and make your anecdote relevant.

How to Write a Great Anecdote

Choose a relevant event that happened to you or someone else (even a famous figure).

Is your story interesting, amusing, inspiring or thought-provoking? Try to aim for at least one of these.

Structure your ideas.

Tell your story briefly.

Draw a conclusion.

The differences between anecdotes and anecdotal stories — anecdotes are short, they may consist of one or two paragraphs. Anecdotal stories are longer. An anecdotal story can include a lot more detail, and you will spend more effort on drawing the reader into the scene so they feel part of it.


People First: PMCS Your Soldiers

The Karate Kid Approach to Leadership Development

Anecdotal Story

His Name Was Bourdo, published in the NCO Journal’s 1991 fall issue.

The Look of Leadership