Professional Writing: Understanding Audience, Tone, and Structure
Professional Writing: Understanding Audience, Tone, and Structure Presented by the UT Writing Center The Universal Traits of Writing All writing tasks, whether academic, professional, or personal are governed by certain shared traits Think SAPO: Subject, Audience, Purpose, Outcome Writing for the workplace, in particular, typically
succeeds or fails based on the degree to which the writer has considered these traits Well-Defined Subjects are Manageable for the Writing Task Assess the content needs of the writing task, and then develop your subject accordingly Be concise: ineffective professional writing can often be caused by the inclusion of subject material that is irrelevant to the core writing task Know Your Audience, Know Success! An awareness of ones audience is perhaps the
most critical trait in Professional Writing The identity of your audience significantly influences your word choice, tone and phrasing; different audiences dictate different choices in these areas In the age of social media and text messaging, writers (particularly recent graduates) are significantly more likely to inadvertently merge personal, informal language with professional tasks; a constant awareness of audience is the Persuasion=Audience Awareness + Relevant Evidence
Whether using appeals to logic (logos), appeals to emotion (pathos), or appeals to ones own credibility (ethos), evidence is only effective if it fulfills the needs of the reader Effective document design and the inclusion of engaging visual elements can also have a persuasive effect Tone in Professional Communications: WHAT you say and HOW you say it MATTERS! Consider this email message recently sent to all staff members on a large university campus: It is time to renew your faculty/staff parking permit. New permits
are required by Nov. 1. Parking Rules and Regulations require that all vehicles driven on campus must display the current permit. Now, a revised version with a different tone: Please renew your faculty/staff parking permit by November 1. An enhanced version would also do the following: Guide the recipient on how and where to renew the parking permit Consider the Difference in Tone INFORMAL TONE PROFESSIONAL TONE You must agree that I am
My qualifications in the areas qualified for the position. You didn't read the instructions carefully, thus your system has shut down. "I hope that you will contact me...I know that my qualifications are not very impressive, but..." of accounting and customer service meet your job requirements.
The system may automatically shut down if any installation errors occur. "You can reach me at 555- 2233; I look forward to hearing from you.My qualifications make me an excellent applicant for this position..." Establishing Your Tone: Ask Yourself Why am I writing this document? Who am I writing to and what do I want
them to understand? What kind of tone should I use? What impression do I want my reader to have upon receiving my communication? Some General Guidelines Regarding Tone Be confident Be prepared and knowledgeable about the material you are communicating Be courteous and sincere Demonstrate respect, honesty, and politeness
Use appropriate emphasis Emphasize an idea by placing it in a short sentence; ideas placed in the first paragraph and the last paragraph receive the most attention Stress benefits for the reader Write from the readers perspective; not what the reader can do for you, but what you can do for the reader Use non-discriminatory language
Use neutral job titles (ie: chairperson instead of chairman), avoid demeaning or stereotypical terms, and do not use masculine pronouns (each student must provide his own computer) Write at an appropriate level of difficulty Avoid complexity your reader wont understand; writing should be clear and simple
Structure of the Communication Organization of information = Effective Argument and Persuasion How the communication is structured directly relates to the order of importance of the presented information The INTRODUCTION of the Communication: should answer 3 questions for your reader What is this? Why am I getting it? What do you want me to do?
General Guidelines Regarding Structure Communication should proceed in a logical, organized manner, moving from general to specific information Information arranged in order of importance to your audience Similar information is kept together Each section is organized around only ONE main idea Key sentences begin each paragraph Document Design: Presentation MATTERS! Document conforms to genre expectations: resume,
cover letter, memo, report, etc. Readers can easily find the information they expect to see Key points are emphasized using boldface, underlining, or italics The use of clear and specific headings to guide readers through the document Improved readability by using indentation or bullets Use HATS to Create Effective Documents HATS documents are easy to access, easy to
navigate, easy to remember Headings: to promote easy navigation Access: to promote the finding and understanding of presented information Typography: to promote ease of reading and clear levels of information hierarchy Space: to promote effective document design The Business Letter Includes the following parts: Senders address (or on letterhead) Date (date letter was finished, in the American Date format: February 2, 2017)
Inside address (address of recipient) Salutation (greetingdo not use solely first names unless you know the recipient personally, and use first and last name if you are unsure of the sex of the recipient) Body (single spaced and left justified, one blank line between each paragraph) Closing (capitalize the first word only, and leave 4 blank lines between the closing and the signature) Enclosures (if you have them) Whats Essential in Professional Writing
Attention to audience when composing the communication Expressed purpose of the communication Appropriate tone for the communication Clear, simple language and sentences Appropriate structure and document design You want your reader to feel your ideas are easy to access, easy to navigate, and easy to remember*
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