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Writing The Whole Document

Document Design – Editing for the Main Points

 

Now that you have gathered your information, organized the information the way you want it, have gotten over your writer’s block, it is finally time to sit down and begin to write your paper, When you write the first task you want to perform is Editing For The Main Points.

 

One thing to remember about writing is that whoever is reading what you are writing will first skim your document looking for the main points.  This is done to insure that 

 

1. Using Headlines and Subheadings

Do not use heading and subheading to make you paper into a an outline but use heading and subheadings so whatever the writing project a reader will be able to skim for the main ideas without too much trouble. Headings and Subheadings give the person reading the paper all the main points at a glance which will allow them to comprehend much easier what you are trying to say.  There are three basic types of headings:

 

Stand Alone Headings

These are heading that make sense all by themselves.  A reader can read these headings and subheading and know what is going on.

Ineffective as a stand-alone heading:

Procedures

Effective stand-alone heading:

Procedures on how to start you own home business.

 

Parallel Headings

All headings and subheadings must use the same parallel form.  There are two types of parallel headings: Grammatical and Conceptual.  Below are examples of both

 

Grammatical

Step to get you car running

1.      Insert the Key in the ignition switch

2.      Rotate the key clockwise

3.      Release the key after the car starts.

 

Notice that these all have the same grammatical construction and ideas of equal importance.  You can also start each heading with an active verb, an ing verb, a pronoun or whatever as long as they are consistent and fit in with the series

 

Conceptual Parallelism  

This differs from the grammatical parallelism in that the headings not only have to grammatically correct but also conceptually parallel.

Cost Effective MBA

        Option 1: Personal Funding

        Option 2: Government Sources

        Option 3: Private Funding

 

 

2   What is White Space?

The term white space refers empty space on the written page.   White space is crucial to the organization of your paper because it visually indicates section breaks, lets you emphasize important ideas or concepts and allows you to present you information in usable amounts of information instead of large chunks.

 

Some effective ways to use white space are:

Shorter blocks of text

Medium sized paragraphs or sections of material make it whole lot easier for you reader because they offer:

        topic sentences or heading

        support information that amplify you main points

        bullet points for all items in a list

All of these add up to making it a whole lot easier for your reader to comprehended what your are saying

 

Lists

Most writers do not utilize the idea of lists in a paper effectively.  As a general rule lists must contain at least two items and no more than seven items.

 

Here are some general rules of thumb about lists:

 

        Microsoft Word you will automatically indent your list when using bullets, numbers or letters.

        Bullets are ok to use if your list does not go in order of importance or time sequence other otherwise use numbers.

        Indentation can be used to differentiate your list from the main point and headings. Which makes it easier for the reader to follow what you are saying

        List can also be sued to emphasize he points you what you reader to remember

        Lists are also a way to effectively organize showcase headings versus subheadings and then bulleted points.

        Use what is commonly referred to as “ragged right margins as opposed to justified margins when using lists

3. Typography

Simply put typography is the arrangement and appearance of printed matter or how well you put your document together with the use of boldface, italics, underlining, fonts and so on.  One thing to remember use but do not overuse typography.  There is point where you document will go from looking readable to looking like a typographical nightmare.  Remember you want people to be able to read your document not to be chased away from your document.

 

Typography Adds Emphasis

        For headings only – Use boldface and italics only on those points you want the reader to remember.  Do not use boldface on random words or thoughts where you are trying to change your voice inflection.

        In a consistent pattern – Make sure you typography follows a set pattern all the way through your paper, document or book do not use a random heading here and there it will only confuse your reader

        In a differential pattern – Make sure your headings at each level look the same and can be differentiated from those of other levels.  Do not use boldface at one level and then use boldface again at the next level.  Use boldface at the first level then switch to boldface italics or some other way to differentiate each level of your document from the one before it level.

Typography Adds Readability

        Make sure you do not get to fancy when setting up your document.  Take the time to use fonts that are easy to read and follow. Serif fonts are fonts that have the extra tail added on.  These fonts are easier to read and gentler on the eyes.  For a traditional look or for densely printed documents choose a serif font

 

        A lot of websites use fonts like this one Arial, which are unserifed fonts meaning that do not have the extra little tail. These fonts are used on websites because they have a modern look and because of the display capabilities of computer monitors

 

        When using any typography make sure that you choose a readable size. Here is a general rule of thumb:

 

o       Use 10-point type sparingly, and only if you feel the reader will be able to easily read it.

o       Use 12-point type for all business documents. This si standard size in word and other Microsoft products.

o       Use 14 or 16-point type on documents to be read on a computer or on a desktop screen.

4. Some other Readability Issues

        Always use sentence case when writing.  That is to say that unless what you are writing is the title of a paper or a heading only capitalize the first letter of each sentence.

        Never use tile case throughout the paper because it will only slow down the reader’s ability to get through your paper.  Think of title case, as a speed bump the reader must get over in order to read your paper.

        Do not use italics for extended text because it is hard to read and get through

        Use proportionately spaced fonts like this one and avoid mono fonts like this one, which is courier because as you can see it is harder for your eye to read it. Mono fonts are usually those that have the names of a city or

 

 

5. Throughout the Document

Here a couple of suggestions for making it easier for you reader to get though your document

a.      Use Back and Forth references:  Along some breathing room throughout the document to let the reader know where you’ve been and where you are going. Means that you connect your paragraphs by using a key word or phrase at the end of one section and then picking up that idea in the next.

Ex. If you adopt my proposal (backswords reference) you can expect the following changes to take place. (Forward reference)  

b.      Use section previews:  The longer the document the more section previews you will want to use in order to let the reader know what the whole document is about. This whole document is an example of section previews.  By reading each preview and heading you can get a good idea of what the document is about.

c.      Document design techniques:  Check you document for design to make sure everything flows and that the design is easy to read and follow.  There is nothing worse then having something great to say, but your reader can’t figure out what it is.

6. Opening and Closing

Make sire the opening and closing of your document contains a capsule review of what your document is about.  The reason for this is that many times this is all your audience will remember about your document because of the audience memory curve.

Opening: Catches the reader’s attentions and gets them interested in what you are going to say so your opening must:

1.      Explain your purpose for writing the document while at the same time

2.      Prepares your reader for what is to come by previewing the document

3.      Helps to build interest in your document.

Many times people leave writing the opening till last because they do not know where the document is going so do not have a firm grasp on how to begin.  

 

You also are not locked into a specify order in writing the opening to your document. You can start out by explaining what is to come, then building interest in and finally preparing the reader to read your document write the opening that you feel best describes you document to your reader.

Closing: Like the opening prepares the reader to read your document the closing must offer the reader some closure to your document. The closing must offer the reader:

1.      Feedback about your document i.e. what you want them to do

2.      Inform them on what the next step is

3.      Give them a good ending to what you have written

 

You closing should not, introduce a new topic to be discussed, offer an apology for what you have just written and should never be an abrupt ending like the words The End.

 

6. Paragraphs

The only thing I am going to say about paragraphs is this that a paragraph is to be set up similarly to your whole document

1.      Have a good Topic sentence that generalizes what is to come.

2.      Use the rest of the paragraph to support that sentence.

3.      Use the last sentence of each paragraph or section as a transition into he next section.      

 

If your paragraph differs from what the topic sentence is then you will loose the reader’s interest and have wasted you time in writing the document.  Each

 

Each sentence must also be written in such a way as to allow for the way the sentence fits into the document as well as the words used.  This is covered in the next section under Writing Paragraph by Paragraph