The ABCs of Writing


Your information must be factual and easy to understand, and the overall length should be appropriate for the content. For example, if the reader doubts the truth of even one sentence, the veracity of the entire text becomes suspect. If the reader cannot understand it, it is worthless. If it is too short, the reader is not satisfied, and if it is too long, the reader is bored.

The purpose of writing, then, is not to satisfy the writer but the reader. Your job is to inform or entertain, or both, without wasting the reader’s time. The goal is to provide just enough information . . . nothing more, nothing less.

So you must ask yourself a few questions. Who is the audience? What is the age range of the audience? What is their level of interest in the topic and what is their level of understanding? How much do they already know? Do you want them to make any decisions or take any action? Do you want to be comforting, persuasive, or aggressive?

For example, you would not want to use technical lingo to recruit high school graduates being hired for entry level positions. Likewise, while preparing an Executive Summary for an advisory board consisting of CEOs, you would not use contractions, slang, or sarcasm. 

You must know the reader and you must control the subject matter—what is being said and how it is being said—by choosing the appropriate style, tone, and connotation. Make these decisions upfront to improve your writing and impress your audience. They want to believe you.