Tip: Put the main message first

Put the main message first. Contented tip.

Put your main message or a summary of your document first, after the headline. In fact, the very first 6 words should give a strong clue about what's in the document.

Assume other people will read only the first line or two of your document and not another word. (Much of the time, that's the truth.)

Will they discover what your document is about? Will they get your main message? Or will they just read some introductory thoughts? If so, all your work is wasted, because many will read no further.

This basic rule of plain language applies to nearly all business writing. Even if most of the information is listed chronologically or in sequence (for example, in instructions), you should still put a summary first.

Exceptions include opinion articles, bad news letters and letters of apology.


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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3 Comments

Words on a page » Blog Archive » A few links for the end of the week - A blog about writing, in its various forms
Words on a page » Blog Archive » A few links for the end of the week - A blog about writing, in its various forms

October 31, 2009

[…] Some basic, but often forgotten, advice: put the main message first […]

Formatii Nunta Bucuresti
Formatii Nunta Bucuresti

March 22, 2012

care e pagina de facebook a siteului ?

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

March 22, 2012

Writing.skills is our Facebook page. Please visit!

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