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Principles

1. Understand who and why

2. Understand the text

3. Choose what to say

4. Slash everything else

5. Edit sentences

6. Put into logical order

7. Demolish walls of words

8. Use links in the right way

9. Rest it then test it

 

1. Understand who and why

Who will use what you write?

Why will they use it?

It also helps if you think about where, when, and how they will use it.

Who are you writing for?

Decide exactly who you are writing for. If you write for "just anyone", you'll end up writing for no-one.

Why will they use what you create?

Why are they reading what you write? Is it for entertainment, to find something, to buy something? If it's an official or government site, are they required to use it or do they have any option?

Where and when will they read it?

When do they use it? Are they responding to something you sent them, or trying to do a task that they decided upon themselves?

Are they at home, at work, or travelling?

Will they be reading while doing something else, like talking on the phone? Will anyone be helping them?

How will they read it?

People read novels from beginning to end. That's reading for entertainment.

At school, we were trying to absorb information to use it later, perhaps in an examination. That's "reading to learn".

Reading to get information ("reading to do") is different. People skim and scan. You can't change how they read, so edit to make it easy.

Are they going to sit down and read in a concentrated way? Or skim, skip and scan?

What do you want them to do as a result of reading this?

What do you expect people to do next?
If that aligns with what your audience wants to do, excellent. If not, maybe think again?

 


Tip: do this well first time to save time

You don't need to repeat this step with every chunk of content. If you make sure that you have a really good grasp of who and why people will read what you write, then you'll be able to apply that your whole project.


Tip: try writing a story

Think about a person who will use your writing. Give the person a name - I'll use X for the moment. Write a story starting:

"X started the day by..."

then fill in how X used your writing and whether that was important to X or not.


Tip: compare and contrast

If your writing is for more than one type of person, select two contrasting ones. By thinking hard about what each person needs, you can often find something that works for both of them.


Reading to learn

Thomas G Sticht (1975) "Reading for working : a functional literacy anthology" : Human Resources Research Organization, Alexandria, Va.


Where to find out more

Ginny Redish's book

chapter 1: Content! Content! Content!

chapter 2: Planning: Purposes, Personas, Conversations