Sunday, May 21, 2006

What is the 5W1H or 5W2H framework?

Lots of writers do use the 5W1H/5W2H framework.

It is an amazing tool in different situations where one needs to clarify or understands something in more depth.

• What?
• Why?
• Where?
• When?
• Who?
• How?
• How much?

As you see from above: there are 5 questions starting with W and 2 starting with H.

This framework is paramount in requirements elicitation, and is widely used in TQM and QCC, which are the pillars of the Total Quality Movement.

I have been trying to find a reference that tells me where these questions came from. Although I suspect that they are from ancient times, I failed to find a reference that would point where they were first enumerated.

The oldest reference was found in, where they believe that those questions came from a Rudyard Kipling poem: “I Keep Six Honest
Serving Men ..."
. Beautiful poem, but I doubt that the 5W1H came from there.

If you happen to know a better origin for the 5W1H, let me know.

(07/07): As pointed out by Charlie Nguyen-Duc in his comment below,it seems that the origins of 5w1h are linked to Marcus Fabius Quintilianus.


Charlie said...

5W1H or 5W2H came from latin: " Quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxiliis, cur, quomodo, quando ? " which can be traduced by: " Qui, quoi, où, par quels moyens, pourquoi, comment, quand ? " in French it corresponds to the 5W2H acronym. At the base it was Quintilian a pedagogue who asked these questions. For more information go on:

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Thorsten said...


Anonymous said...

Hi, I found in three different places that Saint Thomas Aquinas attribute to Cicero the formulation of this group of questions: (page 834, named as Tully, of Tullius Cicero)

And (page 139)

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