Revising Written Communications - Explained
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How to Revise a Written Message?
Revising a written message focuses on sentence construction, grammar, and structure. Structure includes:
- Framing - Framing refers to how information is presented, including margins, line justifications, and template expectations.
- Typefaces - Typeface refers to design of symbols, including letters and numbers.
- Paragraphs - Paragraphs are the basic organizational unit for presenting and emphasizing the key points in a document.
- Visual Aids - The visual should illustrate the text, and should be placed near the words so that the relationship is immediately clear.
- Interactive Elements - Providing links can facilitate interactivity, and that depth of resources can be a distinct advantage when writing documents to be read on a computer.
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Considerations When Revising Written Communications
General revision requires attention to content, organization, style, and readability.
Content - The content will address the central questions of who, what, where, when, why and how within the range and parameters of the assignment.
Organization - Standard formats that include an introduction, body, and conclusion may be part of your document, but did you decide on a direct or indirect approach? Your document may use any of a wide variety of organizing principles, such as chronological, spatial, compare/contrast. Beyond the overall organization, pay special attention to transitions. Finally, your conclusion should mirror your introduction and not introduce new material.
Style - Style is created through content and organization, but also involves word choice and grammatical structures. Is your document written in an informal or formal tone, or does it present a blend, a mix, or an awkward mismatch? Does it provide a coherent and unifying voice with a professional tone?
Evaluate Readability - Readability refers to the readers ability to read and comprehend the document.
Considerations when Revising Communications
Format - Format involves the design expectations of author and audience.
Facts - While you cant be expected to have the skills of a professional fact-checker, you do need to reread your writing with a critical eye to the information in it. ask yourself the following: Does my writing contain any statistics or references that need to be verified? Where can I get reliable information to verify it? Independent verificationthat is, look up the fact in a different source from the one where you first got it.
Names - Incorrect spelling of names is a quick way to undermine your credibility; it can also have a negative impact on your organizations reputation, and in some cases it may even have legal ramifications.
Spelling - Correct spelling is another element essential for your credibility, and errors will be glaringly obvious to many readers.
Punctuation - Punctuation marks are the traffic signals, signs, and indications that allow us to navigate the written word.
Grammar - Grammar involves the written construction of meaning from words and involves customs that evolve and adapt to usage over time. Jean Wyrick has provided a list of common errors in grammar to watch out for, which we have adapted here for easy reference.
Break Up Long Sentences - In business writing, our goals aim more toward precision and the elimination of error; a good business document wont read like a college essay. In their best-selling book The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White  emphasize clarity as a central goal. Big words can clutter your writing with needless jargon that may be a barrier to many readers.
Long Prepositional Phrases - A prepositional phrase is a phrase composed of a preposition (a where word; a word that indicates location) and its object, which may be a noun, a pronoun, or a clause. Some examples of simple prepositional phrases include with Tom, before me, and inside the building security perimeter.
Delete Repetitious Words - Synonyms are useful in avoiding the boredom of repetition.
Eliminate Archaic Expressions or References - Remember that the point of the communication is to be understood. Archaic expressions and unknown references can hurt that objective.
Avoid Fillers - These are words or phrases that add nothing to the message. They simply take up space and can frustrate the reader.
Avoid Cliches - Cliches are words or phrases that through their overuse have lost their impact.
Emphasize Precise Words - Concrete words that are immediately available to your audience are often more effective than abstract terms that require definitions, examples, and qualifications.
Evaluate Parallel Construction - Parallel construction refers to the use of same grammatical pattern; it can be applied to words, phrases, and sentences.
Obscured Verbs - One common problem is the conversion of verbs into nouns with the addition of suffixes like: -ant,-ent, -ion, -tion, -sion, -ence, -ance, and ing.
The Is It Professional? Test - Finally, when revising your document with an attention to detail, you simply need to ask the question: is it professional?