- What is my objective? (You should be able to say “As a result of this document, my readers will . . . .”)
- What style is best for my context: Informal, formal, professional jargon?
- What is my credibility: Position in hierarchy, expertise, relation to audience?
- Who is my audience: Professor, supervisor, peers, employees?
- How can I analyze them: As individuals, as a group?
- What do they know: Necessary background information, new information, expectations for style and format?
- What do they feel: Interest level, bias, ease or difficulty?
- Should I be direct or indirect?
- How can I organize a strategic message?
- What document format is most appropriate: E-mail, letter, brief, memo, short report, formal report?
- 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.