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HEADINGS:
Another feature typical of reports is the use of headings to separate the report's different elements.  Headings help the reader follow the organization of the report and understand the hierarchy of the report's information.   Following is a description and illustration of how headings are usually used.  Some organizations, however, use a different format.  If that is the case for you, follow the accepted use for your organization.

 

 

HEADINGS OF THE FIRST RANK


Headings of the first rank show more space above than below them.  These headings are usually centered and each letter can be capitalized.  Headings of the first rank should be displayed in the largest type.  The typeface may be different from the type used for the text, but it should be compatible with the text's typeface.

 

Headings of the Second Rank

A second-rank heading starts three or four lines below the previous section, flush with the left margin and on a line by itself.  Important words begin with a capital.  The size should be smaller than first-degree headings, but larger than the text type.

Headings of the Third Rank

A third-rank heading is usually indented on a line by itself and is a line below the preceding text.  It is capitalized in the same manner as a second-degree heading, but it is usually smaller than a second-degree heading.  Third-degree headings may be the same size as the text, but they are usually darker or of a different type face so that they cannot be easily confused with the text.



Headings of the fourth rank usually form the first words of a paragraph.  If they refer to material covered in more than one paragraph, they may be set off from the text with a period.  If they refer only to one paragraph, they may form the beginning words of a sentence.  If they are the same size and style as the text type, they are set off from the text in some other way, such as by italics, boldface, or underlining. 

From: Modern Technical Writing, 5th ed. by Theodore A. Sherman & Simon S. Johnson)




THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

An executive summary is a report, proposal, or portfolio, etc in miniature (usually one page or shorter). That is, the executive summary contains enough information for the readers to become acquainted with the full document without reading it. Usually, it contains a statement of the problem, some background information, a description of any alternatives, and the major conclusions. Someone reading an executive summary should get a good idea of main points of the document without becoming bogged down with details.

 An executive summary differs from an abstract in that an abstract is usually only about six to eight lines long. Its purpose is to inform the reader of the points to be covered in the report without any attempt to tell what is said about them. Covering no more than a page in length, the executive summary is longer and is a highly condensed version of the most important information the full document contains. Both the executive summary and the abstract are independent elements rather than a part of the body of the document. Both are placed at the beginning of the document.

 With the possible exception of the conclusion and recommendation, the executive summary is the most important part of a report. As such, it should be the best-written and most polished piece of the document. This is because many readers may only look at the executive summary when deciding whether or not to read the entire document. In some companies, the executive summaries are distributed so that employees are informed as to what information is available, and interested readers may request the entire document. In short, you may expect that an executive summary will be read more frequently and by more people than will your entire document.

 When writing your executive summary, ask yourself if those who read the summary will be those who will read the entire report. If you are dealing with two different groups of people, you will have to decide how much technical detail to include in the summary. If it is likely that some who read only the executive summary will not have the technical background of the writer or final reader, keep the technical information and vocabulary to a minimum. You might have three types of readers: those who want a full picture but won't check the details (they might read the executive summary, some of the body, the conclusions, and the recommendations), those who read everything (they read the appendixes, all the data, the calculations, etc.), and those who are in executive positions, wish to be kept informed on what is going on in the company, and will say "yes" or "no" to a project (they will read the executive summary, the conclusions, and the recommendations). Your executive summary must address all three types of readers.

 Since the executive summary is a condensation, when creating it, you omit any preliminaries, details, and illustrative examples. You do include the main ideas, the facts, the necessary background to understand the problem, the alternatives, and the major conclusions. Brevity and conciseness are the keys to a well-written summary. Do not take a few sentences from key sections of the document and string them together. Rather, go over the entire document and make notes of the elements you consider important. From your notes, create a rough draft of the summary. Then, polish what you have written until it is smooth and seamless without unnecessary wordiness. Do not include any introductory or transitional material. Finally, ensure that your executive summary is accurate and representative of your full document. It should not be misleading, but it should give readers the same impression as if they had read the entire report.


An Example of an Executive Summary:


For the past eighteen months, the Satellite Products laboratory has been developing a system that will permit the companies with large fleets of trucks to communicate directly with their drivers. This communication is intended to take place at any time through a satellite link.

During the week of May 18, 1999, we tested our concepts for the first time, using the ATS-6 satellite and five trucks that were driven over an eleven-state region. All trucks carried our prototype mobile radios.

More than 91% of the 25000 data transmissions were successful. In addition, over 98% of the voice transmissions were judged to be of commercial quality with exceptional clarity. The most important factor limiting the success of the transmissions (8.5% of the total data transmissions and 1.7% of the voice transmissions) was movement outside the satelliteís broadcast footprint. Other factors include the obstruction of the line of sight between the truck and the satellite by highway overpasses, mountains and hills, trees, and buildings.

Overall, the test demonstrated the soundness of the prototype design. Our work on it should continue as rapidly as possible. We recommend the following actions:

  Develop a new antenna designed specifically for use in communications between satellites and mobile radios.

  Explore the configuration of satellites needed to provide thorough footprint coverage for the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, and Southern Canada at a elevation of 25o or more.

 

(Source: Technical Writing: A Reader-Centered Approach, 2nd ed. By Paul V. Anderson, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich Publishers, 1991)



INSTRUCTIONS

nstructions, in general, are simply steps explaining how to do a particular task.   However,  instructions shape a reader's attitude toward a process, a product, or the writer of the instructions.  Therefore, good instructions are not necessarily easy to write.  First, they must be clear and able to be followed.  Second, they must be correct.  Third, they must contain the appropriate amount of information.  

Many people do not like reading, interpreting, and following instructions, yet you may have a very good reason for wanting people to follow your instructions.  Therefore, you must persuade the reader to use your instructions.  You can do this by creating instructions that have an inviting and clear visual design, precise and pertinent information, and a good balance between reading and doing.

Visual design and page layout are very important.  Your instructions must be easy to read, and readers must be able to find their places again if they set the instructions aside to perform a step.  It should be obvious where the reader is to begin and what the next step might be, and the connections between steps should be easy to grasp.   Therefore, be kind to your readers and use plenty of white space and visual aids.   Also, number the steps within your instructions clearly and place illustrations near the text to which they are related.

Precision and correctness are also important.  Once instructions are written, they must be tested.  Testing is best done by someone who is representative of your intended audience or readers. 

Finally, instructions must contain the appropriate amount of information for the reader or audience.  You must carefully consider the group for whom you are writing.   What do they know?  What is their background?  How basic must your instructions be?  What steps in a process can you safely skip?  How much detail should you include?  What assumptions can you make? How much background must you give? Sometimes, if you are writing for two very different audiences, you must write both a detailed and an abreviated set of instructions. This is also true if you are writing instructions intended to train a set of readers who, after training, refer to the instructions for reminders of important steps.



INSTRUCTIONS GENERALLY CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING ELEMENTS

 Introduction

 an announcement of the subject or topic

 a declaration of what can be achieved by following the instructions

 a description of the intended readers (those for whom are the instructions intended)

 information about the scope of the instructions--what they cover

 details about the organization of the instructions and how to use the instructions effectively

Description of the equipment (if the instructions are for running a piece of equipment)

 

Background information or any necessary theory of operation



 

List of materials or equipment necessary to follow the instructions

 

Directions (step-by-step details--the heart of your instructions)



 

Guide to troubleshooting (potential problems and their solutions)



THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN WRITING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Present the steps of your directions in a numbered or bulleted list.  People are accustomed to reading about one step, performing the step, reading the next step, performing that step, etc.  If you present your instructions in a numbered or bulleted list, your readers can read, perform, then find the next step easily.  

  • Number or label the sub-steps clearly.  Often, a major step is numbered 1, and the sub-steps are numbered 1.1 and 1.2.  The sub-sub-steps are numbered 1.1.1 and 1.1.2, etc.  For example:



  • 1.    First Major Step 

1.1    First Sub-step 

1.2    Second Sub-step   

1.2.1     First sub-sub-step           

1.2.2     Second sub-sub-step

2.    Second Major Step

2.1    Sub-step 

2.2    Sub-step   

2.3    Sub-step           

2.3.1     Sub-sub-step 

2.3.2     Sub-sub-step

 


  • Restrict each step, sub-step, or sub-sub-step to one, individual piece of information.   Steps should never, never be multiple bits of information or paragraphs.

 

  • Make liberal use of headings and subheadings.

 

  • Use the active voice and imperative mood.  Begin each step with a verb.

 

  • Use illustrations to show where things are, how to perform a step, and what should result.

 

  • Place warnings where readers will see them--surrounded with plenty of white space--before the step to which they apply.  Use the words WARNING or CAUTION and consider using a graphic or symbol with the warning to catch the reader's eye.  Warnings are used to signal danger to self or others, potential or real damage to equipment, and destruction of or bad results.

 

  • Tell your readers what to do in case of a mistake or unexpected result.

 

  • List alternative steps if readers may take them.  Place the alternative steps where readers can find them easily.

 

  • Provide the appropriate amount of details for your audience or readers.

 

  • Include a troubleshooting guide at the end of your instructions.  The guide will list potential problems and their solutions.  Troubleshooting guides often use a table format with the problem in the left column and the solutions to the right.

 

RESUMES AND COVER LETTERS



The resume is a selling tool that outlines your skills and experiences so an employer can see, at a glance, how you can contribute to the employer's workplace.

Your resume has to sell you in short order. While you may have all the requirements for a particular position, your resume is a failure if the employer does not instantly come to the conclusion that you "have what it takes." The first hurdle your resume has to pass--whether it ends up in the "consider file" or the "reject file"--may take less than thirty seconds.

The most effective resumes are clearly focused on a specific job title and address the employer's stated requirements for the position. The more you know about the duties and skills required for the job--and organize your resume around these points--the more effective the resume.

You will need information to write a good resume. Not just information about jobs you've held in the past but also information to select the most relevant accomplishments, skills and experience for THIS position. The more you know about the employer and the position, the more you can tailor your resume to fit the job.
Chronological : work experience
Curriculum vitae : skills specific
Functional : new graduate…..
Electronic

CONFLICT AND NEGOTIATION IN THE COMMUNICATION PROCESS


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