How to Improve Business Report writing skills

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Business and Report Writing Skills Version 1.0 2008 © Charles Sturt University, 2008 P U R P O S E O F E F F E C T I V E W R I T I N G P a g e 8 PART 1: BUSINESS WRITING PURPOSE OF EFFECTIVE WRITING Why write? In business, in the workplace, and in our personal lives, we all stand to benefit from more effective communication skills. Writing is essential to communicate your message clearly and professionally and to incite action in those who you supervise, work with and require action from. Many in the workforce today struggle with the basics of writing including grammar, spelling and punctuation and this is what can hold them back and reduce their confidence when it comes to business documents. The style and skills required for formal business writing are best developed by practice and experience, but with the right tools and know-how it is not hard to improve. “The objective of communication is not the transmission but the reception.” Source: Dr Gerard M Blair (1991 – 1993) Adjusting writing style to suit topic and reader requirements You must adapt the content, tone and language of your documents to the situation (context) and intended audience of your communication. Some business documents and topics require more formal language than others. If unsure seek clarification before starting. For example, documents such as briefing notes, proposals, operational reports and scientific/research reports will require more formal language than memos to the social committee or emails to colleagues. Use “you” more than you use “I” or “we”. Use a writing style that is appropriate to the reader Write from the reader‟s point of view, focus on their needs as well as benefits to them. Example: WRITER’S VIEWPOINT READER’S VIEWPOINT Our copier makes the best Your copies will be the best you‟ve seen, when you copies on the market today. use our copier. Consider these factors about your readers before composing your draft: Personality type: Technical level: Operational role: detail-oriented expert ultimate authority pragmatic informed user consensus-oriented initiated gatekeeper. visionary. uninitiated. Based on: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. For CSU Division of Human Resources Page 9. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 P U R P O S E O F E F F E C T I V E W R I T I N G P a g e 9 Activity – What your messages reveal about you and your company With business writing, the pressure is on to communicate a clear and concise message with consideration for the reader in mind. When you are writing a business letter, you want to enhance not only your image but your company‟s image as well. Although it seems unfair, the truth is readers will equate weaknesses in your letters with weaknesses in you, or your company. What impressions do you get from business writing with the following characteristics? Characteristic Impressions Typographical and spelling errors Stiff & formal writing style Lots of big, complex words Very short, concise sentences Smudges on paper, tiny margins and weird spacing between lines Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. For CSU Division of Human Resources Page 7. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 10 DIFFERENT STYLES OF CORRESPONDENCE AND CSU TEMPLATES In this section we will discuss briefly the memo, email (covered in more detail later in the module), business letters, business cases, minutes and agendas, as well as media releases. Examples of CSU templates are provided for all when available. MEMORANDUM (MEMO) A memorandum (memo) is a piece of correspondence used within an organisation or among various branches or divisions of the same organisation. A memo is usually sent through internal mail or via e-mail. Structure of the Memo Organisation name, usually contained in the letterhead. Memo or Memorandum at or near the top of the page. To: Use the reader‟s full name with any professional title such as Dr but without the complimentary titles of Mr, Ms or Mrs. If you are sending the memo to several people, list them after “To”. If the list is longer than a dozen names, place it at the end of the memo and reference it on the “To” line. For example: To: See distribution list on page 6. From: The writer‟s name and professional title go after this heading. Date: Dating a memo gives the organisation a record of its correspondence. Subject: State the topic in a few words but make sure it communicates the point of the memo. E.g. “Changes in Employee Medical Benefits” is more specific than “Employee Benefits Program”. NOTE: The order and placement of these headings may vary from organisation to organisation. The “To” line eliminates the need for a salutation (e.g. ”Dear Mrs. Bernstein”). Message The content of the memo should consist of a concise introduction, one or more middle paragraphs conveying the details, and perhaps a brief conclusion. Some memos are as short as one paragraph, or even one sentence. Memo length is determined by the purpose and audience. Memos longer than two pages generally have a more formal structure than shorter ones. A long memo should have the following sections: A summary, placed at the beginning of the memo, should condense the subject to five or ten lines. It should not contain jargon or highly technical language. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 11 The introduction states the memo‟s purpose and scope. You may add a paragraph or two of background material if the reader needs more information. The introduction may also be used to ask or answer key questions, thank the reader, or give good news such as the approval of a proposal. If you must refuse a request or reject an offer, use the introduction to establish your reasons before saying “no”. Discussion. You can use various headings to separate your information into sections: e.g. statement of the problem, approach to the problem, analysis, evaluation, conclusion and recommendations. The facts of a situation need to be accurately identified and presented, and the arguments need to be reasoned and supported carefully. The conclusion summarises the main points and discusses what action is required of the readers. The “From” line eliminates the need for a complimentary close (e.g. “Yours faithfully”). Writer’s initials – a memo is completed by the writer‟s initials, not his/her signature, immediately after the last sentence. Distribution list – names on the distribution list are usually typed in alphabetical order. However, if one of the individuals clearly outranks the others, place that name first. Attachments – if you have attachments, you may list them at the top of the memo or at the end. Copies – a duplicate copy of the memo should be held for future reference. Sources: Barrass, R. 2002, Writing at Work: A Guide to Better Writing in Administration, Business and Management, Routledge, London, pp. 40-41. Baugh, L.S., Fryar, M. & Thomas, T. 1986, Handbook for Business Writing, National Textbook Company, Lincolnwood, Illinois, pp. 119-124. Searles, G.J. 1999, Workplace Communications: The Basics, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, pp. 32-33. What a CSU memo should look like Read carefully the CSU Style Manual guidelines and view the memo template overleaf which can be found at: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/marketing/stylemanual B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 12 Exercise – Critique and then create a CSU memo Using the documents you have sourced from your area during the preparation for this module, critique your example memo with your group. Review and provide feedback as if you were the writers‟ supervisor. Re-write the memo as you believe it should be. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 13 EMAILS Emails have quickly become the communication mode of choice as it is quick, reliable and you have the ability to send attachments and/or links to documents. What a CSU Email Should look like When composing an email please carefully consider sensitivity and discretion. CSU Guidelines for Email Best Practice are available in the CSU Administration Manual. See Appendix 1. To maintain a minimum standard visual presentation in the use of email for internal and external University communications, staff are advised to establish official email contact details (also known as an email signature) that are consistent in format, well-presented, easy to read and portray the professionalism appropriate to the University. See excerpt below outlining correct email signature format from the CSU Style Manual. Background The standard white background should be used for all emails sent on behalf of the University. Coloured backgrounds, pictures, patterns, decorative motifs such as scrolls or leaves can be distracting to the reader and may detract from a professional impression. Font Acceptable fonts are Times New Roman (preferred) or Arial in 10, 11 or 12 point. Font should be navy blue or black only. Contact details The contact details on an email amount to sending an electronic University business card. They give an email a professional appearance, and provide appropriate official contact information. The standard white background should be used for all emails sent on behalf of the University. Coloured backgrounds, pictures, patterns, decorative motifs such as scrolls or leaves can be distracting to the reader and may detract from a professional impression. Personal statements and messages are discouraged. First name and surname These are written in bold in the same font as the email, two points larger. Cursive fonts for the name should be avoided. Job title This and all categories that follow are written in the same font as the email, plain text. Division, School, Faculty, Centre or area Charles Sturt University Postal address External telephone number External fax number Email address CSU web address or URL that directs users to your area An example: Joe Bloggs Editor Division of Marketing Charles Sturt University Panorama Avenue Bathurst NSW 2795 Ph: 02 6338 4411 Fax: 02 6338 4378 jbloggscsu.edu.au www.csu.edu.au B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 14 Disclaimer The following paragraph should appear at the end of your email signature in standard font, 8 point: YOU MUST READ THIS NOTICE This email has been sent by Charles Sturt University (CSU) (ABN 83 878 708 551, CRICOS 00005F). This email (and any attachment) is confidential and is intended for the use of the addressee(s) only. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you must not copy, distribute, take any action in reliance on it or disclose it to anyone. Any confidentiality is not waived or lost by reason of mistaken delivery. The views expressed in this email are not necessarily those of CSU. Email should be checked for viruses and defects before opening. CSU does not accept liability for viruses or any consequence which arise as a result of this email transmission. Email communications with CSU may be subject to automated email filtering, which could result in the delay or deletion of a legitimate email before it is read at CSU. If your email has any relevance to CSU courses offered to international students within Australia, please include this optional sentence. Optional: The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) Provider Numbers for Charles Sturt University are 00005F (NSW), 01947G (VIC) and 02960B (ACT). Source : http://www.csu.edu.au/division/marketing/stylemanual/appli/email.html THE BUSINESS LETTER A letter is a message written on letterhead paper and addressed to someone outside the organisation. It is usually sent through the mail. The body of the letter is made up of the introduction, middle and conclusion. The introduction opens the letter, establishes rapport and acknowledges any previous correspondence or contact. The middle of the letter contains all details and information. The conclusion outlines any actions and/or information required along with a polite ending. Optional parts to a business letter may include an attention line (if you wish to use an attention line place it two returns below the reader‟s address), subject line/reference initials/reference number (placed two returns below the salutation), enclosure, file number, sender‟s telephone number, email or website details. Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. For CSU Division of Human Resources Page 16 Types of letters good news letters – inquiry, request, acknowledgement, introduction to someone/something cover, thank-you and acknowledgement letters letter to refuse an invitation or request - start with your appreciation for the invitation or request, give a full explanation of why you are refusing, close by expressing interest in the person/organisation or with well wishes for the event. bad news letter - open with a courteous greeting, explain the situation, state the bad news, close with a positive paragraph ie how they could improve, encouraging them to apply again in the future. Problem, denial or complaint letter. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 15 General Letter Template Letterhead Organisation name Address Telephone number 30 September, 2008 Reader‟s name Address Attention: Reader’s name and position (optional) Private and confidential (optional) Dear Mr/Ms reader‟s name Your ref.As/ceZZ/2. Our ref. QWE/99 (optional) Subject: (optional) Introduction, Body, Conclusion. Yours sincerely Writer‟s signature Name Position GK:jp (optional) Enclosures (3) (optional) Copies: R. Hanlin, Treasurer (optional) M.McKenna, Secretary See Appendix 2 for examples of CSU Letters from the Division of Human Resources. The AIDA formula of Writing persuasive letters 1. (A) Attention – open with a sentence that catches the reader‟s attention - hook 2. (I) Interest – show the reader features, benefits or develop an idea that may be of interest to the reader 3. (D) Desire – use the middle paragraphs to build up a picture that moves the reader to action 4. (A) Action – state the action the reader needs to take to achieve what you have promised. Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. For CSU Division of Human Resources Page 20 B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 16 What a CSU business letter should look like The CSU letterhead has been designed for use in accordance with the following guidelines for the layout of letters: Preferred typeface for typing is Times New Roman (preferred) or Arial in 10,11, or 12 point Left margin aligns with the logo typeface, 25 mm from edge of page Right margin is 12.5 mm from edge of page Top margin is 60 mm from top of page Bottom margin is 20 mm from bottom of page The letter can be left justified only The pre-printed small dots on left side of paper are guides for folding Read carefully the CSU Style Manual guidelines and view the letter template: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/marketing/stylemanual/appli/letterhead.html Exercise – Critique then create a CSU letter Using the documents you have sourced from your area during the preparation for this module, critique your example letter with your group. Review and provide feedback as if you were the writers‟ supervisor. Re-write the letter as you believe it should be. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 17 Business Cases/Proposals/Briefing Notes The purpose of a business case or proposal is to identify the needs and objectives of an organisation and outline beneficial strategies for meeting these needs. The Business case should also present a way of evaluating results in order to ensure a high chance of success. Business cases at CSU are written to obtain funds for research, to solve problems, express interest in a project and to ask for approval for a change or new course of action. What a CSU Business Case/Proposal should look like All new commercial activities are governed by the Interim Guidelines for Commercial Activities. These Guidelines state that a Scoping Proposal and Business Case need to be completed prior to an activity being approved or commencing. These guidelines can be viewed on the Administration Manual Website at: http://www.csu.edu.au/adminman/leg/GOV84.rtf CSU Business Case templates are also available on the Administration manual website and give comprehensive descriptions and walk you step-by-step through requirements of each section: http://www.csu.edu.au/adminman/leg/buscasetemp.doc. In order to make this an efficient business process, the Office of Corporate Governance (OCG) has developed various categories of commercial activities. These are listed below with a definition and examples of what that category includes, and should be taken into account when writing your Business Case. Collaboration - A general Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with another education provider, or public or private industry, which will be supplemented by additional formal notes of agreement in respect of specific initiatives. The memorandum is a non-binding agreement that aims to facilitate academic cooperation between the parties in the areas of teaching, learning, research, student and staff exchange and a range of other areas of mutual benefit. Consortium - Activities in which the University has joined with other organisations to form a consortium to develop and/or deliver and/or provide programs to a third party. Consultancy - Activities where the University, or a Faculty or Division, or an employee (OPA), is providing contracted services to third parties, eg. Government funding contracts. Community Education - Provision of: non-award weekend/short courses; study activities to visiting external parties to the University where the University provides lectures and recreational tours; study activities to University staff and students visiting external parties where the external party provides lectures and recreational tours; non- award workshops/seminars through Faculties and Schools to High School students, industry groups and others. Industry Training - Provision of VET training programs and Professional Attainment Programs through the University‟s Registered Training Organisation (CSU Training) and through the Faculty of Commerce Professional Development Unit, including training funded by industry partners. Third Party Course Offering - Provision of fee-paying courses through Australian or International third party institutions onshore or offshore for Australian and international students. Employer Reserved - Provision of award places under agreement with an employer, e.g. the Diploma of Policing Practice. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 18 Entity Activities include: Enterprise - those organisations within the University who operate on E funds, excluding research centres. Company - company limited by guarantee - a company formed on the principle of having the liability of its members limited to the respective amounts that the members undertake to contribute to the property of the company if it is wound up; company limited by shares - a company formed on the principle of having the liability of its members limited to the amount (if any) unpaid on the shares respectively held by them. Controlled Entity - company of the University established for the provision of infrastructure and other services across the campuses. Trust/Charitable Fundraising - activities where assets are held and managed by trustees on behalf of an individual or group. Joint Venture - activities involving a business owned jointly by the University and one or more other independent organisations who continue to function separately in all other respects but pool their resources in a particular line of activity. Partnership - activities whereby the University has entered into a partnership agreement to own and control a company with one or more other organisations. These activities do not have a limited liability. Hiring - Hiring equipment and/or rooms to and/or from external parties. Lease - Activities involving the University leasing facilities and/or equipment and/or land and/or buildings to and/or from external parties. Sales - Selling goods and/or services to external parties. Proposals come in all shapes and sizes however there is a standard layout to follow when structuring your proposal: An accepted rule is to keep the body of the report to four parts: two pages on how the project will be managed two pages for selling the idea and the qualities of the proposing organisation. two pages for costs two pages for scheduling. Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. For CSU Division of Human Resources Page 24 Workplace Learning Activity – Creating a business case made simple Using the categories of commercial activities outlined above by the OCG, formulate a simple business case using the template provided in the CSU Administration Manual: http://www.csu.edu.au/adminman/leg/buscasetemp.doc. Ask your mentor or supervisor to review and give feedback. Would they authorise your idea or purchase based on the information you have provided? B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 D I F F E R E N T S T Y L E O F C O R R E S P O N D E N C E & C S U T E M P L A T E S P a g e 19 Agreements, Joint Ventures or Collaborative Ventures Legal Policy and Procedures on Agreements, Joint Ventures or Collaborative Ventures and Delegations for the signing of documents are available in the CSU Administration Manual under: http://www.csu.edu.au/adminman/leg/leg.htm. Appendix 3 shows an example template for a Memorandum of Understanding from the CSU Office of Corporate Governance. Minutes and Agendas The Office of Academic Governance (AG) has developed a style manual including templates for Minutes and Agendas to be used by University Committees. The template is available at the following link: http://www.csu.edu.au/acad_sec/manuals/stylemin.htm For more information or for professional development on writing minutes and agendas contact AG 02 6338 4185 or email secretariatcsu.edu.au. For learning resources go to: http://www.csu.edu.au/acad_sec/manuals/docs/complete_workbook.pdf CSU Templates Other templates available to staff can be found throughout various sections of the CSU website including within the Administration Manual: http://www.csu.edu.au/adminman/leg/leg.htm, the CSU Style Manual: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/marketing/stylemanual, and on the Media Website: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/marketing/secure/csuonly/media_forms_templates.htm Media Releases The CSU Media style guide provides guidance, links and a number of resources for writing, spelling and editing copy when working with the media, and as required by CSU. Refer to these templates which include fonts and layouts, when preparing an official release to ensure consistency: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/marketing/secure/csuonly/media_forms_templates.htm B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 W R I T I N G F O R A P U R P O S E P a g e 20 WRITING FOR A PURPOSE When beginning to write you need to consider: Who are you writing to? What is the primary purpose of your document? Why should the reader care about your message? When and where does the action take place? What are your expected outcomes? Get started Start by brainstorming and writing down any ideas that come into your mind. Logical order and sequence can be looked at further on but the most important thing is to let the ideas flow at this point. Once you start doing this you may find that the ideas start coming into your mind quite quickly as one topic brings to mind another related thought or idea and so on. Write everything down no matter now frivolous as it may turn out to be a brilliant idea down the track when developed more. The idea of any business correspondence is to convey your thought that will set off some kind of action - instantly or remotely. There are two important points for writing effective communication. The first is, you should know what you want to say and the second is, say it. How to begin: - research - write down the facts - brainstorm and write down any - opinions idea that comes to you – no matter how ridiculous - fragments are allowed - no editing allowed - discuss it with someone else, a - initially write as though you‟re colleague or peer writing to your best friend - relaxation techniques - put it all in perspective - Look at previously developed - sleep on it. documents Once you have planned your document, write your first draft without attempting to correct yourself as your write. Once you‟ve finished, it would be ideal to set your writing aside for a while before you begin to edit. Otherwise, you‟ll see what you meant to write, not what you actually wrote. Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. CSU Organisational Development Page 12 & 26. Planning and Structure • All documents should have a structure or format – a logical beginning, middle and end. • Include a sequential argument • Adjust the content to suit your audience and their different learning styles • Study different communication styles – ie: Neuro Linguistic Programming (Grinder and Bandler) the visual, the auditory, Kinaesthetic, Auditory-Digital (AD). • Keeping your focus and the desirable outcomes in mind • Organise your material into manageable chunks “To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail” Anon B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 W R I T I N G F O R A P U R P O S E P a g e 21 Key Points to writing a document: Use of language Appropriate Jargon Plain English Content Simple sentences and or statements Use of dot points Everything to the point This is job specific – use experts in the area, as a trainer I have no idea. Living Documents Must be written to be changed Open mind required What triggers change? Every time the document is used it is tested. Constant continuous improvement What triggers change Change in procedure Change in equipment Better way to do the same job Organisational change Wanting to deliver Best practice Writing the documents What to write How long to write Start point and finish point Answer the who what when questions What to do with the finished draft Test the document using someone else to red pen it – don‟t be “precious” – open mind Discuss the suggested changes and include the agreed changes Final quality check Implement the document Sign off – Who? How? Where? Document control – how where – electronic or hard copy? Storage and use Archiving of old documents – using S drive? Review documents Who? When? How? What triggers review? Is there a set time or ongoing? Cross Campus use of Documents Are your systems the same as other campuses? B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 W R I T I N G F O R A P U R P O S E P a g e 22 The 5W-H Plan for Writing The template below can be useful to help you start initial preparation or peer discussions for outlining your writing plan. TOPIC: QUESTION ANSWER WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? WHY? HOW? Source: Eunson, B. 1996, Writing at Work, Wiley & Sons, Brisbane, p. 46. Exercise – How to start: Planning your writing Using the 5W-H Plan for Writing template above formulate a plan for a new idea or proposal you have been thinking about discussing with your supervisor or team. Discuss your notes within your group and ask them to review it and give you feedback for further ideas or points to remember. deas: New equipment, new software, new staff member, casual assistance, starting weekly team meetings with action sheets, updating procedures documents. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 W R I T I N G F O R A P U R P O S E P a g e 23 Steps in Writing Workplace Documents PREPARATION Purpose Why are you writing? For example, the purpose may be to: o inform o persuade o present a point of view o propose ideas o report findings o recommend a course of action What action or outcome are you hoping for? Reader’s requirements To whom are you writing? What does the reader want to know? What does the reader know about the topic already? What is the reader‟s attitude to the topic? What specific requirements or limitations are there? How much detail is required? When is the document required? Content What information do you need to include? Brainstorm and record all ideas that come to mind about the topic. Brainstorming methods include: o Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? questions; o A mind map of the main concepts, sub-concepts and minor concepts. Method What type of document will be the most appropriate? (e.g. memo, letter or report) What is the most effective way of sending the message? (e.g. personal delivery, mail, e-mail or fax) RESEARCH You may need to research the topic. Record the main points and relevant details. Record the source details (i.e. author, title and publishing details) of your research. ORGANISATION Evaluate each point against the topic and purpose of your document. Only retain relevant information. Group like points and arrange them under appropriate headings, sub-headings and minor headings. Arrange the headings, sub-headings and key points into a logical order. This creates a content outline. WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT Talk your ideas through with someone else before you start writing. This helps you to express your thoughts clearly. Type your first draft quickly. Write what you can, then fill in the missing information later. Follow the appropriate document structure. Follow your content outline, and use headings, sub-headings and minor headings. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 W R I T I N G F O R A P U R P O S E P a g e 24 If desired, use decimal numbering and indentation for the headings, sub-headings and minor headings. For example: 1. HEADING 1.1 Sub-heading 1.1.1 Minor heading Add tables and/or illustrations, if applicable. Add layout and formatting features. EDITING THE DRAFT When you have completed the draft, lay it aside for a day or two if possible. You can then criticise it objectively, keeping in mind the desirable qualities it should have. Evaluate, correct and improve the draft. Read every word, sentence and paragraph with a view to making constructive changes. o Make sentences clearer, tighter, unambiguous and more polished. o Remove unnecessary details or words. o Add any necessary details that have been omitted. o Check that the tense is consistent. o Use active voice and first person where possible. o Correct the spelling, grammar and punctuation. o If the flow needs to be improved, re-arrange the sequence of sentences or paragraphs. Check that the writing style is appropriate. RE-DRAFTING Several drafts are usually required in the editing stage. An editing checklist is useful for reviewing the final draft. It may also be helpful to ask actual or potential members of your audience to provide feedback about the final draft. It should be tested by two groups: o people who have been chosen because of their expertise; and o people who have been chosen because of their lack of expertise. Revise the final draft in line with the feedback. WRITING THE FINAL COPY Type the final copy of the document. Proofread word by word, and figure by figure. Sign and/or type your name or initials at the end of the document. Keep a copy of the final version for your own records. Send the document to the reader. B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 E N S U R I N G P R O F E S S I O N A L D O C U M E N T S P a g e 25 ENSURING PROFESSIONAL DOCUMENTS Exercise – Quick Grammar Exercise Find the error in the following sentences: 1. Because fragments make it hard to understand your sentence 2. Proofreading your writing can be very interesting you can find out what you have written. 3. While procrastinating and worrying, the exam came closer and closer. 4. The essay had to be handed in to the lecturer that had to be a certain length. 5. Students has to have a good understanding of grammar. 6. Anyone who has not done their grammar assignment must have had something better to do. 7. Studying can be exciting, rewarding and sometimes really annoyed. 8. The only excuse their was , was that there exam had started early. 9. When you use an apostrophe, make sure you know its proper use. Its often used incorrectly. 10. The student didn't get no marks for the assignment. To find answers go to: http://www.csu.edu.au/division/studserv/learning/grammar/answers.htm Grammar Basics Term Function Examples Nouns Names of persons, places, things, Clinton, child, Jerusalem, plateau, qualities or concepts bicycle, sadness, freedom Verbs Express action or being Fly, transmit, be, appear Pronouns Substitute for nouns and function as I, me, myself, mine nouns Adjectives Describe or qualify or modify nouns Tall, angry, first or pronouns Adverbs Modify verbs, adjectives, other Quickly, here, soon adverbs or groups of words Prepositions Show relationships between a noun Across, on, during or pronoun and other words in a sentence Conjunctions Link words and groups of words And, but, because Interjections Express feelings or attitudes. Wow Hey Say Tense Describes when an action takes I type/ I typed/ I will type/ I have typed/ I place. was typing/ I will be typing B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8 E N S U R I N G P R O F E S S I O N A L D O C U M E N T S P a g e 26 Grammar Basics continued Term Function Examples Subject The word or group of words that She spoke at the meeting. The two receives the action. managers attended the function. Object The word or group of words that She spoke at the meeting. The two receives the action. managers attended the function. Active voice The subject in the sentence I typed the document. performs the action. Passive The subject is acted upon, or The document was typed by me. voice receives the action. Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. CSU Organisational Development Page 27 Note: For more comprehensive information on Grammar, read Appendix 4 which is an excerpt from Effective Writing workshop 2004 with CSU Human Resources. This excerpt includes comprehensive information on correct grammar, punctuation such as quotations, colons, parentheses, present and past tense, and use of the apostrophe. Writing Powerful and Engaging Sentences A letter that is well written always contains a friendly undertone, polite terms and is written in common language without jargon. To write well aim to appeal to the readers interest, engaging them by presenting the information in a logical sequence and in an accurate and concise way. There are four main types of sentence; Simple, compound, complex and a combination. Simple sentences A simple sentence has a subject, a verb and an object. This type of sentence is used for direct and clear sentences. It is the most powerful type of sentence there is. Compound sentences A compound sentence links two simple sentences together because they are part of one idea. These are also called “comma,and” sentences because you always need to place a comma before a conjunction (such as and, but, so, for, yet) that links the two sentences. The media heads have been appointed, and they have almost completed the project. Complex sentences A complex sentence is one that adds some explanation to your primary statement. It links a main clause with a dependent clause (a clause is a part of a sentence containing a verb and a noun). The managing director of Coles Myer announced a new advertising strategy that would enable the company‟s supermarkets to undercut their competition‟s ratings. (This clause explains the strategy) Complex-compound sentences Be careful when using these sentences, as it can be easy to lose the sense of what you are trying to say. Country Road, which has survived two takeovers, had completed designs for overseas markets so that new stores could be opened in the USA which was a hotbed of competition and also subject to the changes in the Australian dollar exchange rate. Source: Flanagan, S. (2007), Business Writing Skills. CSU Organisational Development Page 29 B u s i n e s s a n d R e p o r t W r i t i n g S k i l l s a t C S U V e r s i o n 1 . 0 2 0 0 8