Effective Writing Skills By Sandra A Shelton www

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Effective Writing Skills By Sandra A. Shelton www. strengthbank. com 800 206 8380 ©The

Effective Writing Skills By Sandra A. Shelton www. strengthbank. com 800 206 8380 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved

To Make Today a Success Contact Date______ Partner’s Name ___________ Contact Info______ My next/most

To Make Today a Success Contact Date______ Partner’s Name ___________ Contact Info______ My next/most common writing is ______ about _______ to __________ ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 2

The Next/Most Common Writing for Me Background ¢Subject? ____________ ¢Format? _____________ ¢When? _____________ ¢To?

The Next/Most Common Writing for Me Background ¢Subject? ____________ ¢Format? _____________ ¢When? _____________ ¢To? ______________ ¢Copies to? ___________ ¢WIWTH? ____________ ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 3

Expectations ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 4

Expectations ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 4

How would you answer this letter if you were responsible for responding to such

How would you answer this letter if you were responsible for responding to such items? “I recently purchased one of your $11. 95 frozen pizzas from ABC Grocery. To my disgust, there was a frozen fly in with the pepperoni. I tried to call your 800 number during my lunch hour and was put on hold 3 times!!! I must not be the only person who finds dead insects in your products. I want my money back and an explanation for the dead fly. I feel very strongly that the authorities should be notified of the obvious unsanitary conditions of your food manufacturing plant. ” ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 5

Write your response to the fly-in-the-pizza letter here. _____________________________________________________________________ ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999,

Write your response to the fly-in-the-pizza letter here. _____________________________________________________________________ ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 6

After today, your writing will Engage your reader. Be clear to get the action

After today, your writing will Engage your reader. Be clear to get the action you desire. Be visually appealing. So that even you will like writing it, reading it, and looking at it. ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 7

After all, any communication creates: A Relationship that gets better or worse the more

After all, any communication creates: A Relationship that gets better or worse the more we communicate. Better if the listener can hear the “rhythm. ” Worse if the listener is worn out trying to get a “rhythm. ” ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 8

Rhythm Test Which looks faster/easier to read: t A script of a play? t

Rhythm Test Which looks faster/easier to read: t A script of a play? t A fiction novel? t A business proposal? t Government regulations? Which of the above sounds faster/easier to read? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 9

Plain language is an approach to communication that begins with the needs of the

Plain language is an approach to communication that begins with the needs of the reader. 1. What you write is determined by your purpose for writing 2. How you write is determined by your audience's reasons for reading and their reading skills http: //www. plainlanguage. gov ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 10

Don’t Misunderstand http: //www. plainlanguage. gov There are many misconceptions about plain language. Plain

Don’t Misunderstand http: //www. plainlanguage. gov There are many misconceptions about plain language. Plain language is not a simplified style of writing. It involves more than replacing jargon and complex language with shorter sentences and familiar words. Plain language looks at the whole message - from the reader's point of view. Clear writing, effective organization and inviting presentation are all keys to creating readable, informative documents. Do you hear the “R” word? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 11

PLAIN LANGUAGE WRITING: : http: //www. plainlanguage. gov Reaches people who can not read

PLAIN LANGUAGE WRITING: : http: //www. plainlanguage. gov Reaches people who can not read well who don't have time to read well. Helps all readers understand Avoids misunderstandings and errors. Saves time because it gets the job done well the first time. or information. (Note punctuation on this slide for a list. ) ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 12

The Reader Today Is: In a hurry. More educated to events. Less formal. ©The

The Reader Today Is: In a hurry. More educated to events. Less formal. ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 13

The Crucial Choice… When to write When not to write ©The Strength. Bank® Companies,

The Crucial Choice… When to write When not to write ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 14

Plain language writing focuses on the needs of the reader. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov

Plain language writing focuses on the needs of the reader. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov Instead of cramming in every bit of information the writer wants to share, the plain writer considers: w what needs the reader has w what information is essential w how it can be organized and expressed most clearly. Do you hear the “R” word? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 15

Reader Focus is Critical The focus on the reader is central to plain language

Reader Focus is Critical The focus on the reader is central to plain language writing. Everything -- from the tone you use to your choice of vocabulary, from document style to document testing and revision -- flows from the belief that you must write for the reader. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/ Do you hear the “R” word? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 16

Engage the reader. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/ PAGE 14 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS Address One

Engage the reader. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/ PAGE 14 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS Address One Person, Not a Group ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 17

Before you write, ask: Who is your audience? Why are you writing this document?

Before you write, ask: Who is your audience? Why are you writing this document? What do you want to say? How will your reader use this information? (WIWTH) When will your audience read this? Why will your audience read this? Where will your audience read this? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 18

For my next/most frequent writing Who _______________? Why _______________? What _______________? How _______________? (WIWTH)______________

For my next/most frequent writing Who _______________? Why _______________? What _______________? How _______________? (WIWTH)______________ When ______________? Why _______________? Where ______________? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 19

Put it in order in the most logical way 1. Chronological 2. Priority 3.

Put it in order in the most logical way 1. Chronological 2. Priority 3. Problem Cause Solution 4. Comparison/Contrast 5. Advantages/Disadvantage 6. Positive Negative Positive ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 20

What sequence is best? 1 4 2 1 2 5 3 4 ©The Strength.

What sequence is best? 1 4 2 1 2 5 3 4 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 21

For my next/most frequent writing The most appropriate overall sequence for the written communication

For my next/most frequent writing The most appropriate overall sequence for the written communication is: ______ Anytime I write ______________ I would be best advised to use the ______________sequence. ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 22

Rhythm: Use Active Voice In an active sentence, the person or agency who is

Rhythm: Use Active Voice In an active sentence, the person or agency who is taking an action is the subject of the sentence. In a passive sentence, the person or item that is acted upon is the subject of the sentence. Passive sentences often do not identify who is performing the action. Translation: Active: subject acts Passive: subject is acted upon. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov -- PAGE 12 / WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS -- Use Active Voice ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 23

Passive Voice- Slow, Tedious Rhythm More wordy and roundabout Too muddled, hides meaning (Talks

Passive Voice- Slow, Tedious Rhythm More wordy and roundabout Too muddled, hides meaning (Talks in third person “it, they, them, he, she” when second person “you” or first person “I, we, us” is more easily and quickly understood. ) Dull and unnatural ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 24

To Recognize the Murky Passive Verb contains a form of “to be” ALWAYS Verb

To Recognize the Murky Passive Verb contains a form of “to be” ALWAYS Verb contains a past participle like has been considered -- ALWAYS Sentence often has a “by” phrase. If it doesn’t, you need to add the “doer” to make it active. ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 25

OK, Sometimes Passive is needed. Only sometimes! “Doer” is unknown “Doer” is unimportant “Doer”

OK, Sometimes Passive is needed. Only sometimes! “Doer” is unknown “Doer” is unimportant “Doer” is better left unsaid. Tact is needed. • EX: “A miscalculation was made. ” ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 26

“In government and business writing One fault stands out: overuse of the passive voice

“In government and business writing One fault stands out: overuse of the passive voice is by far the biggest single offense. ” Jefferson Bates Writing With Precision ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 27

Another Rhythm Thing The question-and-answer format is the most efficient way to communicate with

Another Rhythm Thing The question-and-answer format is the most efficient way to communicate with your reader. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov PAGE 9 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS Use a Question-and-Answer Format ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 28

Approach Is Everything. Indirect Lead In Fact Detail Main Point Direct Main Point Explanation

Approach Is Everything. Indirect Lead In Fact Detail Main Point Direct Main Point Explanation Good Will Message Do you hear the “R” word? ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 29

Approach Examples Direct äTell a decision äTell or request an action äDraw conclusions ämake

Approach Examples Direct äTell a decision äTell or request an action äDraw conclusions ämake recommendations Indirect Ø Introduce the subject Ø Provide a reminder Ø Mention an authorization (enhance credibility) Ø Provide background information. ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 30

Indirect or Direct? I D D D I D D ©The Strength. Bank® Companies,

Indirect or Direct? I D D D I D D ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 31

Based on what we have done so far rewrite the following To whom it

Based on what we have done so far rewrite the following To whom it may concern: This memo endeavors feverishly to substantiate the claim that the new copy machine purchased by the procurement department contains potential drawbacks. It was lamentably found by users during a trial run that there were large amorphous black markings periodically appearing on the paper emitted from the machine. This writer wishes to warn future users of the difficulties associated with utilizing the machine and makes a recommendation that an inquiry be made forthwith by the purchasing agent regarding a maintenance evaluation as soon as time permits. ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 32

Now that I think about it, in my next/most frequent writing A typical beginning

Now that I think about it, in my next/most frequent writing A typical beginning sentence for me is: _________________________________ And a typical middle sentence for me is: _________________________________ ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 33

Using “Real Speak” Plain language writing emphasizes the use of the clearest words possible

Using “Real Speak” Plain language writing emphasizes the use of the clearest words possible to describe actions, objects and people. That often means choosing a two-syllable word over a three-syllable one, an old familiar term instead of the latest bureaucratic expression and sometimes, several clearer words instead of one complicated word. http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using. Appropriate. Words. html ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 34

Use Simple, Everyday Words Use simple, familiar words instead of unfamiliar words. Write as

Use Simple, Everyday Words Use simple, familiar words instead of unfamiliar words. Write as if someone is asking you what you mean. If you are writing for a diverse audience, sometimes you must be an interpreter as well as a writer. http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using. Appropriate. Words. html ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 35

Examples of Simple, Everyday Words send out try llllll help speed up http: //www.

Examples of Simple, Everyday Words send out try llllll help speed up http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using. Appropriate. Words. html ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 36

Examples of Simple, Everyday Words work out Instead of place best plan use http:

Examples of Simple, Everyday Words work out Instead of place best plan use http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using. Appropriate. Words. html ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 37

Cut out the unnecessary words if until while for by because http: //www. web.

Cut out the unnecessary words if until while for by because http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using. Appropriate. Words. html ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 38

Cut out the unnecessary words under to apparently probably although enough Too many http:

Cut out the unnecessary words under to apparently probably although enough Too many http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using. Appropriate. Words. html ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 39

Jargon, Technical Words http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/ Using. Appropriate. Words. html upage 6

Jargon, Technical Words http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/ Using. Appropriate. Words. html upage 6 of 15 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 40

Don't Change Verbs Into Nouns http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/ Using. Appropriate. Words. html

Don't Change Verbs Into Nouns http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/ Using. Appropriate. Words. html upage 6 of 15 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 41

Be Consistent http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/ Using. Appropriate. Words. html upage 7 of

Be Consistent http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/ Using. Appropriate. Words. html upage 7 of 15 Use acronyms carefully! upage 7 of 15 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 42

Keep Sentences Short http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using Appropriate. Words. html up. 8 of

Keep Sentences Short http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using Appropriate. Words. html up. 8 of 15 Unnecessary preambles up. 10 of 15 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 43

Letters/Memos End Somewhere Definite. When you have nothing more to say, stop. Avoid worn-out

Letters/Memos End Somewhere Definite. When you have nothing more to say, stop. Avoid worn-out expressions. Make a definitive statement. Summarize. Thank the reader. End on a personal note (appropriate to the relationship). ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 44

Now for the fly-in-the-pizza letter! Putting it all together, I would rewrite my reply

Now for the fly-in-the-pizza letter! Putting it all together, I would rewrite my reply this way ___________________________________ __________________________ ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 45

Rhythm, White Space, and Color White Space = Psychological Punctuation t. USA TODAY vs

Rhythm, White Space, and Color White Space = Psychological Punctuation t. USA TODAY vs The Wall Street Journal ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved

Use Headings help readers find their way through a document and locate information they

Use Headings help readers find their way through a document and locate information they care about. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/ PAGE 20 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 47

Headings (cont. ) p p A document with lots of informative headings is easy

Headings (cont. ) p p A document with lots of informative headings is easy to follow. Using more headings helps you break up the document into logical, understandable pieces. Informative headings are more specific and thus more helpful to the reader than are short headings that cover several pieces of information. Questions make excellent headings. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/ PAGE 20 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 48

One Topic in Each Paragraph To help your reader keep each idea separate. w

One Topic in Each Paragraph To help your reader keep each idea separate. w Separating different topics into paragraphs is another way to help your reader understand your document. w By making sure that each topic is in a separate paragraph, you give the reader a better idea of the underlying organization. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/ PAGE 22 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 49

Lists for Appeal Vertical lists highlight important topics and make it easy for the

Lists for Appeal Vertical lists highlight important topics and make it easy for the reader to identify all elements in a series. s Vertical lists are much more appealing visually and easier to read than running text. m. They make your documents appear less dense and make it easier to spot main ideas. m. They are also an ideal way to present items, conditions, and exceptions. http: //www. plainlanguage. gov/PAGE 23 WRITING USER-FRIENDLY DOCUMENTS ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 50

Design / The Appealing Part / Dress for Success http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using

Design / The Appealing Part / Dress for Success http: //www. web. net/~plain/Plain. Train/Using Appropriate. Words. html w p. 12 -14 of 15 ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 51

No magic… “Writing is just work--there’s no secret. If you dictate or use a

No magic… “Writing is just work--there’s no secret. If you dictate or use a pen or type or write with your--toes--it is still work. ” -Sinclair Lewis ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 52

Evaluation of Today’s Presentation Please fill in your evaluation forms and feel free to

Evaluation of Today’s Presentation Please fill in your evaluation forms and feel free to add comments. We appreciate your feedback. In fact, we depend on it. You may email us at: [email protected] net or give us feedback on our website: www. strengthbank. com Thanks! ©The Strength. Bank® Companies, 1999, All Rights Reserved 53