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Writing to Inform. English Composition 1301. Objectives. Understand how to clarify what the essay intends readers to know or to do.

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writing to inform

Writing to Inform

English Composition 1301

  • Understand how to clarify what the essay intends readers to know or to do.
  • Understand how to logically organize the information with a clear thesis, topic sentences, specific examples, appropriate transitions, and paragraphs in chronological order or in order of importance.
  • Understand how to include only information that is relevant to the essay’s purpose.
  • Understand how to apply the new information to what readers already know or find valuable.
  • Writing to inform is more than regurgitating facts.
  • Know the purpose in giving readers this information and how to organize it for them effectively.
the basics
The Basics
  • Writing to inform is basic to all types of writing.
  • Learning how to inform readers can improve other types of writing.
  • Argumentative writing can be more effective if writers let the information (in this case, evidence) show the truth of their thesis.

Clarify what you want readers to know or do.

  • Information without a context is trivia and hard to remember.
  • Telling readers what insights you want them to gain
    • (e.g., "The writing process can reduce a writer's anxiety."),
  • What projects they will complete
    • (e.g., "These instructions will guide you in the installation of your new home theater."),
  • Or what skills they will develop
    • (e.g., "These helpful tips will triple your dating prowess.")
  • This information will help them appreciate the meaning and significance of the information.
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Suggestions continued …

Organize your information logically.

  • Sections in an essay or body paragraphs can be formed around steps in a history or process
    • (e.g., "The American Civil War came about through three distinct stages.")
  • Features of a subject
    • (e.g., "Martial artists compete in two events: forms and sparring.")
  • These sections or paragraphs can be organized chronologically or in order of importance.
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Suggestions continued …

Focus on information relevant to your purpose.

  • Experts are often at risk of burying readers in information.
  • They know a lot about their subjects, and they may share that information too enthusiastically.
  • As you revise your informative writing, cut out details that don't contribute to your purpose.
  • For example,
    • if your purpose is to teach us about speed dating, then information on the history of dating practices is relevant only if it contributes directly to teaching us what speed dating is and how it developed.
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Suggestions continued …

Emphasize clarity and accessibility.

In most academic situations,

  • providing a clear thesis,
  • topic sentences,
  • appropriate transitions will help readers better understand

You want them to ponder the information, not your efforts to communicate that information.

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Suggestions continued …

Make the information meaningful for readers.

  • Near the beginning of the work, explain to readers what you want them to know or do after reading your work.
  • Seek ways to connect what you are teaching to what they already know or find valuable.
  • For example
    • Telling beginning students that academic research is similar to the research they already do as consumers, parents, or citizens may help them see the value of research and how it relates to other areas of their lives.
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Suggestions continued …
  • Provide specific examples to clarify abstract points.
  • Including specific examples when your information gets too abstract or confusing helps readers visualize what you mean.
  • For instance, if you tell readers that modernist poets like T.S. Eliot often wrote about the hollowness of life, follow it up with an example.
  • The following lines from Eliot's "The Hollow Men" do that nicely:

"We are the hollow menWe are the stuffed menLeaning togetherHeadpiece filled with straw. Alas!Our dried voices, whenWe whisper togetherAre quiet and meaninglessAs wind in dry grassOr rats' feet over broken glassIn our dry cellar."