If you have been assigned a writing project, assignment, essay or report, sometimes just getting started can be a challenge. Do you find yourself just baffled by a blank page?
More often than not, the sense of feeling overwhelmed can come from looking at the entire project instead of breaking it down and working through it piece by piece. High level mind-mapping and planning is valuable, but after you have conducted this process, the easiest way is to start with collecting information, references and ideas together ready for the C-S-A-W (through to writing).
So, here's how you can get started.
Make an initial outline draft and list below each heading potential ideas to be expanded. Take a look at your overall structure of what you plan to write about and ensure that the material flows logically (headings) and you have addressed the intention of the report from the recipient's perspective.
Write the first draft. Each idea that has been listed in the previous exercise, can now be expanded into a paragraph. The paragraphs are then arranged into a logical order within the head or sub-heading.
- use short and succinct sentences
- link paragraphs together appropriately
- use correct technical terms relevant to the industry
Follow this checklist:
* Have you addressed the prescribed scope of works?
* Is the Executive Summary clear and concise as to findings and/or recommendations?
* Does the information flow in a logical progression?
* Have you appropriately referenced all sources?
* Are you required to follow a corporate editorial style guide?
* Are all headings uniform or consistent, i.e. H1, H2, H3 in the style formatting option?
* Have you correctly named all tables, figures and diagrams included in your report?
Style & Language
* Confirm that you have not used any emotive or colloquial language
* Have you written in a clear and succinct style?
* Are your sentences short and relevant? [Fog Index]
* Is your message being adequately portrayed and to the appropriate audience level?
* Have you referenced all graphs, figures and tables? (Don't assume your reader will automatically be able to interpret or make the connections).
Grammar, Spelling & Punctuation
* Is your writing consistent in tense (past or present) [refer to active/passive voice]
* Have you checked spelling (proofreading): spell check function set to appropriate language, i.e. English US or English UK?
* Remember the concept of 'white space' to create easier reading
* Check tables, figures, graphs and appendices that they are in correct order within the report and referenced and number sequentially. [prepare Excel spreadsheet example].
* Are the tables and diagrams placed strategically in the report for relevance and reference?