Study Materials

Writing Strategy Checklist: Questions to Ask

Writer Strategy

  1. What is my objective? (You should be able to say “As a result of this document, my readers will . . . .”)
  2. What style is best for my context: Informal, formal, professional jargon?
  3. What is my credibility: Position in hierarchy, expertise, relation to audience?

Audience Strategy

  1. Who is my audience: Professor, supervisor, peers, employees?
  2. How can I analyze them: As individuals, as a group?
  3. What do they know: Necessary background information, new information, expectations for style and format?
  4. What do they feel: Interest level, bias, ease or difficulty?

Message Strategy

  1. Should I be direct or indirect?
  2. How can I organize a strategic message?
  3. What document format is most appropriate: E-mail, letter, brief, memo, short report, formal report?

Cultural Strategy

  1. How does culture affect my strategy: Objective, style, credibility? What adjustments do I need to make to be reader-friendly?

International Style Guidelines

In professional writing, the term “good style” refers to a way of writing that allows the audience to read with speed and clarity. The “pleasure of the text” is not a concern in this context. We can increase the ease with which all audiences (including international audiences) read our documents quickly and accurately by following these guidelines.

  • Use short sentences to minimize the chance of misunderstanding.
  • Use topic sentences at the start of paragraphs.
  • Avoid informal style, jargon and humor.
  • Avoid acronyms except for specialist audiences.
  • Use frequent transition phrases.
  • Use metaphors, similes and analogies carefully.
  • Use clear and complete headings and captions.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2016