Good business writers know how to break up text so that it looks more readable and is more logical. Our Business Writing That Counts! webinar series breaks these skills down into the parts that make effective paragraphs, such as writing with clarity and streamlining the process. Here are some tips for making your paragraphs perform:
Start with Basics
You can’t build a house without a solid foundation and frame. And you can’t build a paragraph until you have some basic business writing skills. If you need to brush up on grammar, punctuation and sentence structure, take care of those skills before you try to pull together paragraphs—and entire written pieces—that perform.
Like building a house, refining your business writing skills requires logical steps. You don’t put in the finished floor before you have walls, for example. Use the same approach to improve your business writing skills.
Have a Floorplan
Contractors don’t “design as they go,” but build a home based on renderings prepared by architects. The plans give specific details on all the parts (electrical, plumbing, etc.) and how they fit together. Approach your writing the same way: devise a plan before you start. You don’t need a formal outline, but you do need a list of your major points (topics). This helps you organize your paragraph content, transitions and order before you begin writing.
Put on the Finishing Touches
Once you have a plan, you can begin to improve each paragraph. Typically, use a topic sentence to introduce your idea for the paragraph that follows. If you have developed a logical plan, your topic sentence ties somewhat to the preceding paragraph, and certainly to your main point or goal for the writing project. When transitions are not as smooth, you can add subheads to “separate” ideas or add a brief transition phrase. Just don’t get into the habit of devising unnecessary transition sentences to try to make paragraphs flow. If you are struggling to create transitions (or assign subheads), you probably need to reorganize your topics or paragraphs.
Once your paragraph has a logical topic sentence, structure your paragraph around this main idea. Make the most important or “supporting” points first, and then drill down into some detail. That first point usually flows logically from your topic sentence. For example, if your topic sentence reads “Effective business writing requires knowledge of grammar,” your next sentence should address grammar. If the paragraph becomes too long, break it at a logical point.
Enlist Professional Help
Few people have the skills to render the architectural plan, frame the walls, install the plumbing and lay the carpet. It’s OK to admit you need help with your business writing and to turn to the professionals at Business Writing That Counts! Our specially designed series gives you the foundation you need plus ways to plan and refine your writing. Contact us now about this and other webinar and online course topics, or call 425-485-3221.