Organizing Content

Amateurs think paragraphs are for babies

I could not stop myself. Food and editing! This photo of a pilcrow pretzel by Windell Oskay is too funny. Since a pilcrow is the symbol editors use to say “start new paragraph here,” it’s appropriate for today’s post. Here’s a pic that might make the symbol more recognizable. If not, you learned something new today!

I haven’t met many amateur writers who want to talk about paragraphs (let alone pilcrows). The whole topic gets dismissed as infantile. But pros recognize the importance of the paragraph. After all, what precisely is it? A visually distinct chunk of text. To be effective, it needs to include only text that BELONGS together in a chunk. So what pros know is that chunking related text in their documents makes it easier for readers to get their message.

To provide some assistance, I’m updating a video tutorial on paragraph unity. It refers to an Email about Insurance Plans, which I adapted based on a student’s response to an assignment in the 1999 textbook, Scenarios for Technical Communication, by Stone & Kynell.

  • Writer: one of the owners of a small company
  • Reader: the other owner
  • Bottom Line Message: a discussion of specific pros and cons for each of the two health insurance plans they are considering for their employees

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