Purpose in Writing

Before you write one word, you need to know what you want your writing to accomplish. Are you conveying information to the general public? Reporting on a recent project? Do you want your readers to do something when they finish reading? If you aren't sure what your purpose in writing is, your writing will not be clear.

Conveying Information

Much writing is done to convey information to a group of people. Annual reports go to stockholders you want to keep happy; grant proposals go to people who have money you want; and, user manuals go to people you hope won't call you with questions you've already answered in the manual. But, if the purpose of writing each of these documents is not very clear, the intended audience may not get the message you thought you sent.

Put yourself in your audience's shoes. What is it that is important to them? How can you make sure that what you have to say becomes important to them? Answering these questions takes an awareness of your audience and an understanding of how people best receive messages. The vocabulary you use, the arguments you present, even the organizational structure you give the piece of writing will all depend on what you want to say and who you want to say it to.

What Do You Want Your Readers to Do?

Do you want your readers to buy your product or service? Then convince them they can't live without it. Do you want your shareholders to hold onto your stock? Then show them the marvels you've accomplished while all the while adhering to fiscal conservatism. Do you want clients to follow a certain procedure? Then illustrate, in terms that are meaningful to them, the benefits they will receive by doing so.

So, What Does This Mean to You?

Purpose and audience are intertwined. If you know why you are writing, but don't pay detailed attention to the needs of your audience, you lose. But, if you have analyzed your audience and don't really know what you are writing to them for, you still lose.

Writing takes effort. Good writing takes effort, too. But it combines the effort with expertise in the language --in the language you use in the industry and in the language used by your audience. Superior writing takes effort and language expertise. In addition, it takes a strict attention to all the activities involved in reading. These qualities will ensure a piece of communication that is clear in its contents and its purpose.


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