Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Writing Tip 14 - Organization

How often do you find business forms with long paragraphs and jumbled ideas? Unfortunately, we're often forced to read such things in business, and who has the time?

I came across one the other day that I had to read three times to understand. Written by a very knowledgeable construction consultant in a letter to the editor of a magazine, this piece had a lot to say. While I could see its point with effort, the point was jumbled and didn't strike clearly at all. Its cumbersome visual appearance interferred with getting the writer's important message across.

In cases like these, first, separate the sentences and identify a subheading (paragraph label) under which each sentence fits. While a short document may not need subheadings, they will help the writer identify paragraph subjects. Key words in the first sentence of each paragraph may be italicized further distinguish the paragraph's basic idea.

By separating a long rambling paragraph into a series of smaller paragraphs, related thoughts and sentences can be presented in a more orderly fashion. This usually shortens the piece and has the added benefit of making the point quickly and efficiently.


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