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Organizing a Document*

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Organizing a Document*. Write for the audience, not for yourself Use the ABC format Abstract (introduction, beginning) – purpose, scope, and contents Body – background, methods, and data Conclusion – results, action, emphasis, or personal note

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organizing a document
Organizing a Document*
  • Write for the audience, not for yourself
  • Use the ABC format
    • Abstract (introduction, beginning) – purpose, scope, and contents
    • Body – background, methods, and data
    • Conclusion – results, action, emphasis, or personal note

* Based on information from William S. Pfeiffer, Pocket Guide to Technical Writing, Second Edition, Columbus, Ohio: Prentice Hall, 2001.

organizing a document 2
Organizing a Document (2)
  • Write different sections of the document for different readers
  • Use common threads of organization, theme, and style to link different sections of the document together
    • Begin each section with a purpose statement
    • Use frequent headings
    • Use active voice verbs
    • Use lead-ins at the beginning of sections
    • Include lists
    • Use graphics
    • Separate facts from opinions
organizing a document 3
Organizing a Document (3)
  • Emphasize beginnings and endings by placing important information at the beginning and end of the document
  • Repeat key points in different sections of the document
formatting techniques
Formatting Techniques
  • White space
  • Headings
  • Lists
  • Typefaces
white space
White Space
  • Use 1” to 1½” margins
  • Consider using double columns
  • Skip lines between paragraphs in single-spaced text
  • Use slightly more space above headings than below them
headings and subheadings
Headings and Subheadings
  • Create headings and subheadings from the outline
  • Avoid using a single subheading
  • Maintain parallel grammatical form in headings of equal importance
  • Try to have at least one heading on each page of text
  • Use headings that reflect the content of the section
  • Establish a visual ranking of headings
lists
Lists
  • Use lists frequently
  • Keep lists short
    • Five-9 items = the maximum number
    • Three items = the minimum number
  • Use bullets or numbers
  • Punctuate, space, and capitalize consistently
  • Use proper lead-ins and parallel structure
typefaces
Typefaces
  • Serif type is generally used for text where visual variety improves reader attention
    • Times New Roman is a serif type
  • Sans serif type is generally used for headings where the uncluttered look attracts reader attention
    • Arial is a sans serif type
why use graphics
Why Use Graphics?
  • To simplify ideas
  • To reinforce ideas
  • To create interest
  • To capitalize on universal symbols
fundamentals of graphic use
Fundamentals of Graphic Use
  • Introduce all graphics (include the graphic number)
  • Locate a graphic immediately following the text in which it is first mentioned

Exceptions (place the graphic in an appendix):

      • When numerous references are made in the text to the same graphic
      • If the graphic contains nonessential material
  • Position graphics (in documents) vertically if possible; otherwise, the top is on the left page margin
  • Keep graphics simple – avoid clutter and use ample white space
  • Provide titles, notes, keys, and source data for all graphics
guidelines for using pie charts
Guidelines for Using Pie Charts
  • Use 10 or less divisions
  • Move clockwise from 12:00
  • Use pie charts for percentages and money
  • Emphasize one piece of the pie by
    • Shading a wedge
    • Removing a wedge from the main pie
    • Placing related pie charts in a 3-dimensional drawing
  • Draw and label the chart correctly
guidelines for using bar graphs
Guidelines for Using Bar Graphs
  • Use a limited number of bars
  • Show comparisons clearly
  • Maintain equal bar widths
  • Adjust space as needed
    • No space for close comparisons or for many bars
    • Equal space for significantly different bar heights
    • Variable space for gaps in data
  • Arrange the order of the bars with care
    • Sequential - to show a trend
    • Ascending or descending order – to make a point
guidelines for using line charts effectively
Guidelines for Using Line Charts Effectively
  • Use line charts for trends
  • Strive for accuracy and clarity
    • Start all scales from zero
    • Choose a visually pleasing vertical-to-horizontal ratio for axis lengths
    • Make chart lines as thick as (or thicker than) the axis lines
    • Place numbers outside the line chart itself
    • Use no more than 5 (preferably no more than 4) lines on a given chart
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