The (sub)genre of the executive summary. [Version 2.0]

[updated from the original post on March 16, 2016] When a business professional needs to influence other people to do something not obviously beneficial to them, the individual often writes a persuasive document. That’s why we have proposals, business plans, recommendation reports, white papers, etc. Because such documents present complex information, they are usually lengthy. But readers are busy! So…

The (sub)genre of the executive summary

When a business professional needs to influence other people to do something not obviously beneficial to them, the individual often writes a persuasive document. That’s why we have proposals, business plans, recommendation reports, white papers, etc. Because such documents present complex information, they are usually lengthy. But readers are busy! So writers need to provide their audience with a way…

Lead your reader through your content with transitions

Readers understand a message better when writers use explicit signals of what they want readers to get out of a document. Transitions like “unfortunately” are one type of explicit signal. (Headings are another — see Think long-term and be kind to readers with well-formatted documents.) In fact, transitions are also sometimes called logical connectives. Maybe that makes…

Learn to identify needless words and promote clarity

A couple of months back, Forbes.com published 10 Tips For Better Business Writing. Tip #3 was “Omit needless words.” The author echoed the time-honored advice of William Strunk, Jr., in The Elements of Style published by Cornell University, where he worked as an English professor, in 1919. (You may be more familiar with later editions of the book by Strunk…