Chapter 6 Completing Business Messages
Chapter 6 Objectives • Explain why revision is so important. • Discuss how to write concise messages. • List nine tips for making your writing clear. • Identify seven issues to keep in mind when critiquing someone else’s writing.
Chapter Objectives continued • Describe five design elements, explaining how they can change a document’s appearance. • Outline some ways that technology helps you produce and distribute messages. • Define the types of errors to look for when proofreading.
Moving Beyond Your First Draft • Since the first draft is rarely good enough, you should plan on going over a document at least three times: • One pass for content and organization • One pass for style and readability • One pass (after producing your message) for mechanics and format
Revising Your Message • Revision is an ongoing activity that occurs throughout the writing process. • If possible, let your draft age a day or two before revising it. • Make the first revision pass a quick read to determine overall effectiveness, focusing on • Content • Organization • Flow
Revising Your Message • Have you covered all your points in the most logical order? • Do the most important ideas receive the most space? • Are the most important ideas placed in the most prominent positions? • Have you provided enough support and double-checked the facts? • Would the message be more convincing if it were arranged in another sequence? • Do you need to add anything? • Will your words affect your readers as intended?
Revising Your Message • During your second pass, focus on style and readability: • Have you achieved the right tone for your audience? • Have you missed any opportunities to make the material more interesting (with strong, lively words and phrases)? • Have you made your point concisely? • Have you made your point clearly? • Are you relying mainly on familiar terms and simple, direct statements? • Should you apply a readability formula to determine the difficulty of your writing?
Revising Your Message • In technical documents, target an audience reading at twelfth- to fourteenth-grade levels. • For general business messages, target an audience reading at the eighth- to eleventh-grade levels. • Use a readability index to determine the message’s reading level (i.e., Gunning’s Fox Index, page 137)
Review for Styleand Readability • Use readability formulas to gauge reading difficulty. • Check to see if you have emphasized important points. • Make sure you have topic sentences. • Look for transition between paragraphs. • See if each word contributes to the sentence.
Revise for Conciseness Delete unnecessary words and phrases Shorten long words and phrases Rewrite sentences that begin with “It is...” and “There are...” Eliminate redundancies
Revise for Clarity • Break up overly-long sentences. • Rewrite hedging sentences. • Impose parallelism. • Correct dangling modifiers. • Reword long noun sequences. • Replace camouflaged verbs. • Clarify sentence structure. • Clarify awkward references. • Moderate your enthusiasm.
Producing Your Message • Even after revising your message’s content and organization, style and readability, word choice, sentence style, and paragraph development, you need to produce it in some form that allows you to check it for appearance, accuracy, and mechanics. • When designing your message, balancing graphics and text is important.
Producing Your Message • The first things readers will notice about your message is its appearance. • Although design elements provide readers visual clues to the importance and relationship of various ideas, too many design elements will only confuse an audience.
White Space • White space includes • The open area surrounding headings • The space in margins • The vertical space between columns • The space created by ragged line endings • The space in paragraph indents (or extra space between unindented paragraphs) • The horizontal space between lines of type
Lines of Type • Lines of type can be set • Justified (flush on both the left and right margins) • Flush left with a ragged-right margin • Flush right with a ragged-left margin • Centered with ragged-left and ragged-right margins
Fully Justified Type • Darkens your message’s appearance • Tends to make your message look more like a form letter (and less like a customized letter) • Is often considered more difficult to read (because of uneven spaces between words) • May cause excessive hyphenation (to maintain the justified right margin) • Allows a higher word density
Flush-left–ragged-right type • Lightens your message’s appearance • Gives a document an informal, contemporary feeling of openness • Is easier to read (because the spacing between words is the same) • Reduces hyphenation (because only long words are hyphenated at the end of lines)
More type styles • Centered type • Lends a formal tone to your message • Slows reading (because readers must search for the beginning of each line) • Is usually avoided for passages of text • Flush-right–ragged-left type • Slows reading (because readers must search for the beginning of each line) • Is usually avoided for passages of text
Headings and Subheadings • Are usually set larger than the type used for text • Are often set in different typeface • Invite readers to become involved in your message • Should not be centered if they contain more than two lines • Clue readers into the organization of your message’s content • Can be linked to the text they introduce by putting more space above than below them
Captions • Tie photographs and illustrations into the rest of your message • Are usually placed below the exhibit (but may be placed beside or above the exhibit) • Should maintain a width that is pleasing in proportion to the width of the exhibit, the surrounding white space, and the text
Typefaces • The term typeface refers to the physical design of letters, numbers, and other characters. • Each typeface influences the tone of your message, making it look • Authoritative • Friendly • Expensive • Classy • Casual
Typeface and Styles Examples of different typefaces and typestyles: Serif typeface Sans serif typeface Italic typestyle Bold typestyle Decorative typeface
Effective Design Consistency throughout Balance text, artwork, and white space Use Restraint Pay Attention to Detail
Using Technology • Technology helps you put text, graphics, sound, and hypertext into documents. • Word processors enter text easily. • Keyboarding is still the most common input, however voice recognition, scanning, and OCR are gaining popularity.
Page numbering Automatic dating Numbered lists Bulleted lists Spell checkers Style checkers Grammar checkers Boilerplates Mail and file merges Cut and paste Search and replace Find files, words, links AutoCorrect Tables and columns Features ofWord Processors
More Technology • Presentation software helps you create impressive visuals such as overhead transparencies and computerized slide shows. • Graphic software ranges from products that can create simple diagrams and flowcharts to comprehensive tools geared to artists and graphic designers. • Sound bites can help you get your message across with embedded voice messages or other sound effects. • Hyperlinks allow readers to jump from one document to another with the click of a mouse.
More Technology • Technology helps you copy and distribute your business documents with • Computer printers • Photocopiers • Print shops • Mail merge • Broadcast faxing • CD-ROMs (or computer disks) • E-mail attachments
What to Look for When Proofreading • Grammar, usage, and punctuation • Spelling errors and typos • Missing material • Design inconsistencies • Typographical errors
What to Look for When Proofreading • Also review your document for overall format problems, such as • Layout errors (in margin width, number of columns, running heads, etc.) • Missing elements (such as table of contents, illustrations page, indexes, appendixes) • Inconsistencies (in page numbers, heading styles, exhibit titles, source notes, etc.)
Let’s Discuss Test Your Knowledge • What are the three main tasks involved in revising a business message? • How do readers benefit from white space and headings? • What computer tools can you use when revising messages? • What is the purpose of the Fog Index and similar formulas? • What is parallel construction, and why is it important?
Let’s Discuss Test Your Knowledge continued • What are some of the issues to focus on when critiquing someone else’s document? • What are some ways you can make a document more concise? • Why is proofreading an important part of the writing process? • What happens when you use too many hedging sentences in one document? • Why is it a good idea to use verbs instead of noun phrases?