Posted by: episystechpubs | July 14, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Final Tips

The final writing tips I have for you from the article “10 Top Writing Tips and the Psychology Behind Them,” by Josh Bernoff focus on structure. This may seem very basic, but you’d be surprised how many people forget where they started and where they’re going with their writing.

We work with a lot of very smart people who weren’t necessarily raised to be writers. When you combine that with complex thoughts and ideas, you sometimes get thousands of words poured out of someone’s brain and dashed onto a page. Outlines are a great way to keep things under control. Here are two other considerations:

Tip #8 Move key insights up.

Why it matters. You only have a few sentences to get the reader’s attention. If you boldly state your key point at or near the top, they’ll stick around to see if you can prove it.

Why your insights are buried.We were all taught to write deductively: first this, then that, then this, therefore conclusion. Also, you’re afraid of scaring people away with a bold opening statement. [KC – I don’t know. I like starting my documents off with “I am Superman!”]

How to fix it. Force yourself to start with a bold statement. If you just can’t get in this habit, write whatever you need to warm up to stating your thesis, then delete the warmup. Once you’ve finished the piece and realize what you really meant to say, rewrite the bold statement. Each time you rewrite, rewrite the opener.

Tip #10 Give us some signposts.

Why it matters. If you’re writing anything longer than a page, people want to know what they’re in for.

Why you lack signposts. You’re afraid of sounding pedantic. Worse yet, if your writing isn’t well organized, then you can’t explain the structure.

How to fix it.After you’ve stated your main thesis, write this: “Here’s how I’ll explain this.” Then include a few short sentences or a numbered list. It’s that easy!

Note: Signposts can take several forms. In a list of Frequently Asked Questions, you can tell where a question starts and where an answer starts by looking for the Q. and A. signposts. Pairing each question and answer together also serves as a spatial signpost.

You can also use heading styles or certain words as signposts. A Heading 1 (the largest heading) may always mean you are at the top of a new section, idea, or topic. The words “Before You Start” might indicate that is where you go for the prerequisites to a task. A numbered list is often a signpost indicating a task or procedure. An icon with an exclamation point may indicate caution or some sort of warning.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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