The Writing Process

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The Writing Process

To write clear and concise business correspondence for Nickell Industries, considers the following points.

Define Your Purpose

Knowing your purpose for writing is the foundation for any writen project. Before you begin writing your email, letter, or other document, ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish and the purpose for writing.

Identify Your Reader

As your define your purpose, you will need to develop a good picture of the person who will be reading you document. Ask yourself:

  • Who is my reader?

  • What do I know about my reader that will help determine the best approach?

  • Is the audience one person or a group?

  • Is my reader a coworker, a subordinate, a superior, or a customer?

  • How is the reader likly to feel about my message?

Select Your Information and Plan How to Organize It

Once you have defined your purpose and identified your reader, decide what information you will include. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What does my reader want ore need to know?

  • What information should I include?

  • What information will help my reader respond positively.

  • What information should I not include?

To answer these questions, you may find spending a few minutes listing all of the information you could include in your document helpful. You may also find writing a rough draft of your document helpful. Write the draft quickly, including any information that comes to you. Once you have it all on paper, you can work with it, deciding what to include and what to leave out.

When you have decided what information to include, consider how you will organize that information. Ask yourself the order in which to organize the information to acomplish your purpose. You could organize your information:

  • Most important to least important

  • Least important to most important

  • Causes leading to some effect

  • An effect followed by its causes

  • Chronological (first occurence to last)

  • Problem followed by proposed solutions

  • Response to several questions in thee order in which the questions were asked

  • Steps in a process (first step to last)

  • Proposal or request followed by reasons

However you organize your ideas, think about your document as having a beginning, a middle, and an end, each with it’s own purpose. The following is true whether you are writing several paragraphs or a single paragraph.


  • Introduces main idea or subject

  • Gets reader’s attention

  • Establishes positive tone


  • Contains more detailed information and support for main idea

  • Leads reader logically to the conclusion intended by the writer


  • States writer’s conclusion and action reader should take

  • Maintains (or reestablishes) positive tone

Write Your First Draft Quickly and Plan to Edit

A first draft is rarely a final draft, even for the best writers; therefore, write something to get yourself started. Let your purpose, reader, and organizational plan guide you, but do not let them stifle you. Keep going even if you occasionaly lose your focus. Once you have a full drafts, you can add or delete information, reorganize, and edit sentences.

Make Strong Paragraphs Your Building Blocks

Most of your written business communication will be too complex to be conveyed in a a single sentence. Letters and even simple informal messages often (though not always) require that you state a general idea and follow with more information about that idea: support for the idea, reasons, examples, explanations, further discussion, and so on.

If you include one main idea in each paragraphs, you can move your reader through complicated information idea by idea—paragraph by paragraph—until you believe your reader can draw a logical conclusion.

Occasionally, a good paragraph is a single sentence. More often a good paragraph is a group of sentences that focus on one main idea. This focus on a single idea is called unity. Good paragraphs also help the reader understand relationships between ideas (from paragraph to paragraph) and between ideas and their supporting details. This clarity of relationships is called coherence. Both unity and coherence improve when a paragraph begins with a sentence that states or implies the main idea.

Remember, good paragraphs:

  • Build a clear document

  • Focus on a single idea (unity)

  • State the main idea as directly as possible

  • Support the main idea with any needed details

  • Help the reader understand relationships (coherence)

Use the Active Voice

Use the active voice most of the time. Active-voice sentences use fewer words and are more direct than passive-voice sentences. For example:

Passive voice: The policy statement was written by your manager.

Active voice: Your manager wrote the policy statement.

In the active-voice sentence, the subject (manager) is the person who performed the action (wrote). This structures allows the active-voice sentence to omit two weak words that serve only to lengthen it: was and by.

Although the active voice is more direct and efficient, the passive voice is useful at times. Use the passive voice when:

  • Your writing is so formal or or impersonal that you must avoid names and pronouns, as in formal reports

  • Active-voice options sound awkward or forced

  • You want to improve sentence variety

  • You wish to deemphasize the subject of the sentence

Edit and Proofread

Editing and proofreading are essential to good writing. Planning and drafting allow you to get your information on paper; editing and proofreading help you communicate your ideas as clearly as possible to a reader.

Editing and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading are the final steps in in producing a document that communicates effectively. Although the processes are closely related and are sometimes handled simultaneously, a few important distinctions exist. Editing usually involves checking and revising content as well as style. That means checking to see that the document’s organiztion is logical, that sentence meaning is clear, and that the most effective words are used. Editing in this sense is typically handled by the writer. If you are asked to edit another’s work, know your limits before you begin. You may not be able to change another person’s work as extensively as you would your own because you cannot know the writer’s preferences, particularly if that person is your boss.

Proofreading involves checking a document’s mechanics, including errors in punctuation, capitalization, spelling, grammar, and format. Proofreading can also involve comparing a printed document against an edite manuscript, making sure that you have made all indicated changes. Because it is the final stage before a document reaches its audience, proofreading should be completed as thoroughly as possible.

Edit Information

Once you have a full first draft of your docment, reconsider your purpose and your reader. Ask questions such as:

  • Does the document include all of the important information?

  • Have I said too much? Can I cut any information?

  • Have I said too little. Can I add information to improve the communication with the reader?

  • Have I used the best words? Are they the right level of formality? Does each word contribute to my meaning?

Edit Organization

Once you have all of the information you need, consider how you have organized it. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Will the reader be able to identify early in the document my purpose for writing?

  • Is the information presented in a logical order?

  • Does the order of the information help the reader see connections among my ideas?

  • Does the order of the information lead the reader to the conclusion I intend?

  • Do I provide a clear and positive conclusion?

  • If I want a response, will my reader know exactly what I want?

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