Writing Reports and Proposals
Nine Rules of Writing The Rules of Evidence
1) Use familiar words
2) Prefer short, simple words
3) Use concrete words
4) Prefer active to passive verbs
5) Avoid camouflaged verbs
6) Arrange sentences for emphasis and clarity
7) Keep sentences short
8) Ensure modifying words and phrases relate to nouns and pronouns 9) Use words economically
Rule 1: Look at the evidence and follow where it leads.
The trick here is not to let your own bias lead you into selecting only the evidence you agree with. If you aren’t careful, you can unconsciously start forcing the evidence to fit the design that seems to be emerging. When fact A and fact B both point toward the same conclusion, there is always the temptation to make fact C fit. Rule 2. Look for the simplest explanation that accounts for all the evidence. When the lights in the room go out, the sudden darkness might be taken as evidence of a power failure. But a quick investigation turns up other evidence that must be accounted for: the streetlights are still on; the refrigerator is still functioning. So a simpler explanation may exist, and a check of the circuit breakers or fuse box would be appropriate. Rule 3. Look at all likely alternatives.
Likely alternatives in the example just discussed would include such things as burned-out bulbs, loose plugs, and defective outlets, so all alternatives should be examined in the investigation stage. During the writing stage, however, do not overload the reader with a detailed examination or eight or ten alternatives. If there are more than three, reduce the number for discussion to three, or perhaps four, alternatives. The others can usually be discussed and dismissed in one brief paragraph. Examining alternatives has two other major advantages: it saves the reader raising the question in his or her mind, “Didn’t the writer of this report look at anything else?”, and it gains credibility for the writer’s objectivity. Rule 4. Beware of absolute statements.
In the complexity of the real world, it is seldom possible to marshal sufficient evidence to permit an absolute generalization. Be wary of writing general statements using words like “all,” “never,” or “always.” Sometimes these words can be effectively implied rather than stated. The Four Stages of Report Writing 1) Investigation: Where the purpose of the report is clearly defined and, guided by this, all necessary and relevant information is collected. 2) Planning: Where information is, selected according to who is going to read it, sorted into section and given a heading, and arranged in a logical sequence. 3) Writing: Where all the information and ideas are presented clearly, concisely, completely, and correctly. 4) Revision: A thorough and relentless check is made of the first draft of the report. Planning Your Report The planning sequence for writing a report can be remembered by the acronym “PAFEO.” Purpose
Organization The Ten Steps of Proposal Writing Persuading Your Audience 1) Clarify your objectives
2) Analyze your audience
3) Get your thoughts on paper
4) Group and label your thoughts
5) Sequence your thoughts
6) Make an outline
7) Write your draft down
9) Add the finishing touches
10) Proofread and edit
To be successful, persuasion must accomplish all six of these steps: 1) You must get your message to the audience.
2) You must get someone to pay attention to it.
3) The message must be understandable. People are more likely to read things they can understand. They won’t come over to your side if they don’t understand what your side is. 4) Your arguments must be convincing.
5) The audience must be willing to give in or to yield.
6) They must remember their new attitude and be willing to act. Common Types of Graphics Area graph (pie chart): Simplest breakdown of percentages. Bar graph: Versatile; easy comparison of amounts, subdivisions, relations. Column...
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