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What is the purpose of work?
Humans and their need to connect
Why do we need to work?
The importance of feeling useful
What they don’t tell you about finding your purpose
What you need from a job can change
How to create a sense of purpose at work
Need help finding your purpose of work?
If you’re reflecting on your life purpose, you’re not alone. 2 out of 3 employees in the US say the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to reconsider their purpose.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising. Many of us feel we have a purpose in life, even if we’re not sure exactly what it is. The pandemic has inspired many people to reflect on what’s truly important to them. As a result, nearly half of US employees are considering changing jobs or careers .
But finding your purpose in work is only easy for a lucky few. Most often, it is a process of discovery — it requires time. For most of us, it requires deep soul-searching and an understanding of what purpose is, why we need it, and how to find it.
Let’s go over all three.
We spend the majority of our lives working. Many of us spend eight hours a day, five days a week dedicating our time to our job. This means that, on average, people work 90,000 hours over the course of their lifetime .
We spend more time on the job than with our families or doing things we love. So it’s unsurprising that most people aspire to more meaningful and satisfying work. After all, if you’re giving so much of your life and energy to something, it makes sense that you would want to enjoy it.
BetterUp carried out a survey on the importance of meaning and purpose at work . We wanted to discover why having a sense of purpose at work is so crucial to both employees and organizations.
We found that employees are more satisfied with their jobs when they feel work is meaningful and they feel empowered . Higher levels of job satisfaction can encourage people to work more hours, work with more focus, and take fewer sick days. This results in productivity gains for the company that average $9,000 per employee per year.
No doubt having a sense of purpose at work benefits both the employee and the organization. Employees who place value on meaningful work are more likely to be promoted and occupy leadership positions .
And in case you’re still not convinced about how much value people place on the purpose of work, 9 out of 10 employees would be willing to accept a pay cut in exchange for a more meaningful job.
Not only that, but job satisfaction also boosts employee engagement . This is essential for all businesses at a time when just 20% of employees worldwide report high levels of engagement .
Humans and their need to connect
But why are meaning and purpose so important to human beings?
Researchers have shown that we are hard-wired to connect on a collective level because our ancestors depended on one another to survive. Throughout most of human history, rejection by the group was the equivalent of a death sentence. But just because today you can order delivery online rather than seeking others to help to bring down a mastodon for dinner doesn't mean you no longer need a tribe .
This intrinsic need to connect with something bigger than ourselves drives us to look for a sense of purpose or a way to contribute to the greater good. Serving people and making a difference makes us feel connected to others.
This gives a sense of meaning and purpose to our lives in a way that material rewards can’t. The Japanese concept of Ikigai summarizes our drive for purpose and how we can connect to it.
The power of connection and contribution is so strong that it makes people more motivated and resilient to setbacks . Feeling connected to your work and having a sense of purpose can help you persevere even when other metrics indicate failure .
This is why people we consider materially or financially successful often turn out to be deeply unhappy. In their pursuit of success, they may have neglected their intrinsic need to connect with others through purposeful work. It turns out that happiness leads to success , not the other way round.
In the 20th century, economic recovery and stability were the two main goals of most employees and organizations. It was common for Baby Boomers to land secure, stable jobs and stay at them for their entire careers. These jobs may have been monotonous, but they provided for the family and ensured their future.
But each generation’s need to work is conditioned by the moment in history in which they live. Millennials now form the majority of the global workforce . With this generational shift, employee priorities have also changed.
According to Crystal Kadakia, author of “The Millennial Myth,” the ongoing corporate instability that began with the Great Recession and has continued through the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted employees’ priorities .
Millennials put purpose over paychecks. This makes meaningful work the secret sauce of employee engagement and retention.
Aligning work with an employee’s core beliefs, values, and passions can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction. This leads to an increased sense of fulfillment that extends to every area of a person’s life.
In fact, research shows that having a sense of personal purpose at work can improve employees’ personal lives. This phenomenon is known as work-to-life enrichment .
The importance of feeling useful
85% of executives and upper management feel connected to a sense of purpose in their work. This is compared to just 15% of frontline leaders and employees, according to McKinsey.
This gap highlights the need for employers to take purpose at work more seriously. Their organization will benefit in many ways, four of which are outlined below.
1. Increases employee engagement
Research by CIO found that creating more meaning for employees in their work boosts:
- Motivation by 55%
- Loyalty by 42%
- Pride by 32%
This leads to higher levels of employee engagement and productivity.
2. Boosts employee retention
Employees who feel their company’s purpose aligns with their personal purpose are more likely to be engaged and motivated. This makes them less likely to leave and increases employee retention . It also reduces the costs and lack of efficiency associated with high employee turnover.
3. It reduces absenteeism
Finding purpose at work can increase employee well-being through work-to-life enrichment. When employees feel connected to a greater purpose in their work, it impacts their mental fitness and well-being .
They are more energized and resilient to job-related stress and setbacks. This reduces absenteeism and its impact on organizational productivity.
4. It improves performance
The CIO study found that helping employees connect with a sense of purpose at work can increase productivity by 22%. This is because purpose-driven employees are willing to put in extra hours and create more revenue for the organization.
What they don’t tell you about finding your purpose
Finding and connecting with a sense of personal purpose can be deeply rewarding, but it also has its pitfalls. Here are three things you should be aware of that could happen when you find your purpose.
1. It can burn you out
Discovering your purpose is an exciting experience. It gives you a motivational boost that can make you last longer than the Energizer bunny. But all that extra energy holds the potential of burnout , so be careful and make sure you pace yourself.
You might feel you want to make up for lost time, but you should resist the urge to stay up all night working on your projects. Be the tortoise, not the hare, and schedule in plenty of time for rest and self-care .
2. You might lose people
Finding your purpose is part of your growth as a human being, and not everyone will understand your journey.
One potential side effect of finding your purpose is that you outgrow old friends, jobs, and colleagues.
Although this might be painful, it is often a natural result of personal growth . Resist the urge to hold onto things that no longer serve you. At the same time, allow yourself to grieve that which you’ve lost.
3. Working off-purpose can be painful
When you discover your purpose, you might find that it doesn’t align with your current profession. This is an uncomfortable position to be in. But you can use it as fuel to gradually implement changes, one day at a time, and work toward creating a more fulfilling life.
According to McKinsey, 70% of employees say their purpose is defined by their work. But goals and aspirations are not static, and they can change as time progresses. This means the things that give you a sense of purpose may also change over time.
In fact, the things you find meaningful in your 20s are likely to be different from your priorities in your 30s, 40s, or 50s.
For example, if you’re a photojournalist, adventure might be your priority in your 20s, and you spend a decade touring the globe telling stories that matter. In your 30s, you might decide to take a desk-based job that allows you to settle down and have a family.
And in your 40s and 50s, you might aspire to upper management roles that allow you to influence the creative direction of the publication you work for.
How to create a sense of purpose at work
Let’s take a look at how employees can create a sense of purpose at work and why helping employees find purpose is a crucial leadership behavior .
For employees: finding your purpose at work
Employees can find a greater sense of purpose in their work by implementing the following steps.
- Get clear on your beliefs and values
Finding your purpose starts with identifying what really matters to you. Take some time to journal about your beliefs and values and look for ways to apply them to your work. This can help you look for employers who share your values.
- Develop your passions
It might not always be possible, or desirable, to find work that perfectly aligns with your passions . However, you may be able to find ways to integrate your passion into your work. Research by Deloitte suggests that the passion we have for work is unique and characterized by a desire to take on challenges and connect with others to learn faster how to make a significant impact.
Many people aren't even sure what they're passionate about. Many people discover their passion , or discover a new passion, through the process of immersing in their work. As you learn more about a domain or industry and get involved in specific problems and customers, it can pique your curiosity and ignite passion.
For example, one study found that members of the cleaning staff in a hospital had diverse perceptions of the same job . When asked what they do, some simply stated their job title, while others gave unofficial descriptions such as “healer.”
- Shift your perspective
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” — Dr. Wayne Dyer
You can find the meaning or purpose of any job when you change your way of looking at it. To find the purpose of your work, focus on the three elements of purpose:
- Feeling connected to something bigger than yourself
- Knowing your work matters
- Understanding how your work affects other people
Make a logical connection between the work you do and how it contributes to the greater good.
For example, if you work in administration for a non-profit organization, you can reason that your work contributes to delivering assistance to those who need it, even if you’re not the one delivering that assistance directly.
For leaders: helping your employees find purpose
As a leader, part of your job is helping your employees discover their purpose. Here are four steps you can take to do just that.
- Start with your organization’s purpose
79% of business leaders believe that purpose is essential for success in business . Yet only 34% of leadership decisions are guided by organizational purpose.
To define your organization’s purpose, start by identifying your core company values . Then link them to your overarching strategy, goals, and purpose.
- Help employees align with their work
Encourage employees to create their own purpose-driven headlines for their work. These should be more descriptive and dynamic than their job titles. The individual purpose of each employee should contribute to the purpose of the organization.
KPMG found that after trying this exercise, employees’ engagement levels and pride in their work skyrocketed.
- Ask for employee input
Create a work environment that encourages team members to regularly submit suggestions and initiatives that are in line with both the individual and organizational purpose.
- Help people fulfill their purpose at work
According to McKinsey, 63% of employees expect their employers to provide opportunities to fulfill their purpose in their day-to-day work.
Look for ways to help your employees live their personal purpose through their work. For example, you might want to assist them in creating a five-year plan that will guide them toward their purpose.
Finding your purpose of work can lead to a more rewarding career. It also contributes to better physical and emotional well-being and higher levels of motivation.
But finding your purpose isn’t always straightforward, even when you follow the steps above. That’s why BetterUp’s expert coaches specialize in helping people develop self-awareness and connect with their values to find purpose and reach goals. Get in touch today to discover how we can help you.
Start finding your purpose and unlock your best life
Purpose, mission, vision: what drives what, life purpose: the inspiration you need to find your drive, when purpose is hard to find, how to move forward with intent, how can you know the difference between purpose vs. objective, are you having post-grad blues 8 tips for finding purpose after college, change your life (for good) with more purpose and passion, purpose of premarital counseling: what to expect, how to find your purpose — 7 tips, similar articles, is something feel missing here’s how to find your meaning in life, go to work happy with these 20 ways to start your day, the secret to finding your passion isn't looking, it's doing, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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What Is Effective Professional Writing and How Can It Improve Team Productivity?
Employees from C-suite executives to administrative coordinators write to instruct, inform, persuade, or complete a transaction. Regardless of the objective, all writing requires the same essentials to fulfill its designated purpose and communicate clear, concise ideas.
Obstacles to productive, effective professional writing include errors, extraneous words, jargon, and unnecessary information—essentially anything that hinders the readers’ ability to gain value upon finishing the text.
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Advanced writing assistant tools are geared toward helping business writers more confidently identify these common pitfalls and persevere with context-based suggestions. Committing to mastering the fundamentals of professional writing will lead to substantial gains in productivity that make the time and effort worthwhile.
What is effective professional writing?
Effective professional writing is clear, relevant, persuasive, and results-oriented to achieve specific business goals. The following characteristics will support managers, supervisors, and team leaders by increasing confidence, currying greater respect, and driving measurable productivity among teams:
Clarity and conciseness
Objective: You only have 15 seconds to capture a reader’s attention. All too often, writing is meandering and veers off course, rather than being initiated with a clear objective in mind. Audiences better resonate with writing that gets to the point. One can’t assume readers have time to wade into a novel-length piece of content trying to convey a single message. The best writers aim for quick, easy, and memorable reads.
Content should be:
- Simple: In his 1991 book, The Miracle of Language , Richard Lederer instructed, “When you speak and write, there is no law that says you have to use big words. Short words are as good as long ones, and short, old words—like sun and grass and home—are best of all. A lot of small words, more than you might think, can meet your needs with a strength, grace, and charm that large words do not have.”
Leaders often feel they need to use complex jargon, industry acronyms, and lofty words to sound intellectual. Yet, they end up talking over the heads of their audiences. Communicating in short sentences with ordinary words conveys the clearest thought. Instead of saying “close proximity,” a writer can use “near,” or “use” instead of “utilize.” Grammarly Business understands this principle and can analyze content in real-time, providing suggestions for improvement.
- Logical: Sentences should be arranged logically, with an introduction, body, and conclusion. Paragraphs should contain no more than seven lines as a general rule—not sentences, but lines. Bullet points, subheadings, bolded text, and visual graphics can be used judiciously to support the main body text while aiding in quick skimmability.
- Active: Clarity demands active voice rather than passive. For instance, “The researcher analyzed the data” is much clearer than “The data was analyzed.”
- Succinct: Editing for bloat requires careful consideration, but it is the hallmark of a truly effective professional writer. Every sentence must convey an original and essential message. Traditionally, business leaders allocated up to 30% of their time for editing. New writing assistant tools greatly cut down on time spent editing and reviewing, freeing managers to work on other tasks. In turn, putting forth this extra effort before hitting “send” or “publish” saves teams a considerable deal of time in reading, interpreting, and clarifying.
- Precise: Think of each word as costing a dollar. Suddenly, it becomes easy to cut extraneous words like “definitely,” “somewhat,” “quite,” and “very,” as none of these obscurities add to the integrity of a sentence. Vague words should be used with caution, as they are so overused they tend to lose meaning. Instead, use specific measurements to demonstrate change and efficacy.
- Instead of as plain as day, try apparent.
- Instead of ballpark figure, try approximately.
- Instead of few and far between, try infrequent.
- Instead of needless to say, try obviously.
- Instead of last but not least, try finally.
Ensuring every piece of company-owned content is original and brand-aligned is simple with Grammarly Business. Employing a built-in style guide that you can customize to your company’s preferences, Grammarly will scan content in seconds and compare it to the style guide, making recommendations based on the set preferences.
- Credible: Citing sources and using qualifiers as necessary creates better transparency, accountability, and goodwill among the team. For instance, phrases like “we recommend,” “we believe,” or “in our opinion” explain that the company is acting on the best available knowledge at the time. Avoiding words like “never,” “always,” “all,” and “none” maintains accuracy in writing.
Spelling and grammar
Objective: U.S. businesses with spelling and grammar errors on their websites will lose almost twice as many customers as U.S. businesses with error-free websites, according to research. While it may seem like just forgetting a comma, or accidentally writing “there” instead of “their” wouldn’t have that great of an effect on your business, error-free content conveys that careful thought, consideration, and time was spent during the writing process. Page after page of flawlessly executed content organically builds a sense of authority and credibility that the reader immediately trusts.
- Be free of typos: It’s easy to miss a beat, and routine spellcheckers don’t pick up specific errors. The most common mistypes include words like: out (our), form (from), he (the), and off (of). A tool like Grammarly can instantly identify these common typos and provide alternative solutions.
- Have proper punctuation: Without the right punctuation, a chunk of writing devolves into word salad. Ideally, you want readers flying through your content, skimming and digesting effortlessly. Grammarly provides a helpful style guide for punctuation that includes details on apostrophes, commas, exclamation points, hyphens, parentheses, quotation marks, and more.
- Use correct forms of capitalization: Common missteps include the failure to capitalize items like proper nouns, days of the week or months of the year, geographic names, job titles, industry acronyms, and names of specific departments.
Introducing Company Style Guides from Grammarly Business
A company-wide style guide is a must-have for any organization. This document covers topics like capitalization, tone, phrasing, grammar, spelling, logo/image/color choice, and other rules for consistent branding. Our tool helps you create, edit, maintain, and enforce a style guide that puts the entire team on the same page, while increasing brand trust.
Give it a try today
- Sentence fragments: Every sentence must contain a subject (person, place, or thing) and a verb (action word). Sentences should rarely ever begin with words ending in “-ing”; however, there are few exceptions to this rule.
- Nonagreement of subject and verb: Example: “Each person did their assignments independently.” Each is singular, while their is plural. Instead, it might be said, “Each person completed his or her assignments independently” or “Everyone completed their assignments independently.”
- Incorrect word usage: Homophones are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently to convey different meanings, like compliment/complement. Commonly confused words also include I vs. me, less vs. fewer, that vs. who, their/there/they’re, and your/you’re.
Objective: Tone refers to the writer’s attitude toward the reader. A misinterpreted message can quickly deter current and prospective customers, as well as create employee disgruntlement. On the other hand, striking the right tone welcomes readers like an informative friend and conveys the message in a respectable, professional manner. Tone shows that you relate to the reader’s wants, needs, interests, feelings, and struggles. Word choice is crucial in establishing a tone that achieves your end goals.
- Approachable yet formal: Jokes, personal anecdotes, colloquial expressions, and “water cooler talk” have their own place and context, but they are not generally used in professional writing. It’s possible to strike the right balance between friendly and professional and write in a tone that conveys confidence and empathy. Messages delivered from a manager or executive should deliver authority and leadership, but they shouldn’t intimidate or put off readers.
- Inclusive: The utmost sensitivity should be practiced when professionally communicating. Every member of the audience should feel addressed and respected. For example, instead of “chairman,” a gender-neutral term like “chairperson” would be preferable. Instead of “Dear Sirs and Madams,” an inclusive phrase like “Dear Retail Managers” may work better.
- Confident: Professional writers often use weak qualifiers like “sort of,” “kind of,” or “pretty much” that dilute the message due to a reluctance to take authority. Yet, this manner of writing also conveys a lack of confidence. Business writers also tend to overuse “and” or “of” in longer sentences. Saying “Training with us is easy, and you can count on us to take care of you” sounds far less confident than simply saying “Training with us is easy. We take care of you.”
While it may seem challenging to incorporate all of these qualities into your writing, Grammarly Business has the ability to analyze tone in real-time. This feature offers employees guidance when their content needs some reworking, or assurance that their content is on the right track.
These tips and guidelines can seem overwhelming to someone who isn’t a trained writer or generally doesn’t enjoy writing. Yet, there are so many reasons why effective professional writing is a worthwhile objective. For starters, team productivity.
How can effective professional writing improve team productivity?
Teams thrive on lightning-quick communication when there are clear directives and few misunderstandings. In a perfect world, all employees would receive well-executed directives, know precisely what’s expected of them, and perform their duties to the best of their abilities. In reality, poor professional writing causes costly, wasteful workplace failures.
New employees fail to receive much-needed training
Josh Bernoff of the Harvard Business Review , painted this picture after surveying 547 business professionals:
“Entry-level employees get little training in how to write in a brief, clear, and incisive way. Instead, they’re immersed in first-draft emails from their managers, poorly edited reports, and jargon-filled employee manuals. Their own flabby writing habits fit right in. And the whole organization drowns in productivity-draining blather.”
Productivity suffers due to poor business communications.
Bernoff found the average worker spends 25.5 hours reading for work each week, including about 121 emails per day . That’s nearly half of each workday spent reading! Worse yet, 81% of those surveyed agreed that poorly written material wastes a lot of their time.
Most of the emails, memos, and other documents the professionals read are ineffective due to length, poor organization, unclear sentences, jargon, imprecise language, and grammatical errors. Consider this: spending just one extra minute deciphering each email per day results in unnecessary time loss exceeding two hours.
Wasted time reading at work means lost revenue
Other research supports the notion that ineffective professional writing is causing much-wasted productivity. According to Salesforce , 86% of professionals agree that poor communication results in workplace failures. Furthermore, Siemens found that a 100-person small business devotes 17 hours per week correcting poor communication, which amounts to $528,443 in wasted productivity by the year’s end.
Other studies have found productivity losses of approximately $26,041 per worker per year arising from communication barriers. U.K. private equity firm Manchester Companies estimates miscommunication can cost an organization anywhere from 25% to 40% of its annual budget .
Effective writing leads to a workplace that attracts and retains talent
At the most basic level, effective professional writing saves time on training by communicating the correct information to the right people, eliminating confusion, and outlining the full scope of the project. Going one step further, effective professional writing can convey appreciation, highlight successes, and increase motivation that improves team morale, job satisfaction, and performance. This, in turn, reduces turnover and retains highly engaged employees who boost the company’s bottom line.
Businesses with effective communication are 50% more likely to have low employee turnover. Not only that, but companies that communicate with efficiency are 4.5 times more likely to retain the best employees. These “connected, engaged employees” give organizations a 20% to 25% increase in productivity, according to a study by McKinsey . The Workplace Research Foundation also found that “highly engaged employees” are 38% more likely to report above-average productivity. Cumulatively, a business with highly engaged employees can outperform competitors without such a workforce with 202% higher performance .
Effective professional writing with Grammarly Business
So the question is not so much if a business professional should invest in improving professional writing skills, but how to best achieve that goal. There is no shortage of educational training courses, business development coaches, and consultants offering assistance. Yet, the answer can be much simpler than that. Using a digital communication tool like Grammarly can increase personal productivity while simultaneously improving one’s business writing quality across all platforms.
Grammarly Business can support the goal of increasing effectiveness in professional writing by:
- Identifying spelling and punctuation errors automatically.
- Offering grammatical suggestions to improve correctness, clarity, and engagement.
- Enlivening messages with vivid words that may not immediately come to mind.
- Monitoring tone to exude confidence, competency, and appropriateness.
- Integrating across different channels, including email, collaborative platforms, social media, productivity platforms, CRM software, and more.
Grammarly Business functions as an “AI-powered writing assistant” that helps business teams sound more polished and professional in their written words while taking into account every team member’s personal expertise, learning, and growing alongside them.
The application of natural language processing and machine learning to develop constructive feedback and improvements landed Grammarly on Fast Company’s list of “The World’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2019 .
Contact us to learn more about the emerging role of digital writing assistants in the workplace. Take a fast, affordable, and almost effortless step toward more effective professional writing with Grammarly Business .
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1 Writing Purposefully
Kate Mele, PhD
Typically, rhetorical purpose is defined by three infinitives: “to inform, to persuade, and to entertain.” But we can refine those as we consider what we want to say about the problem at hand. For instance, our purpose may be to report, to inquire, to evaluate, or to offer a solution. As you work through the course, you are sure to come up with other infinitives to describe your purpose more accurately. The point is, though, that before we begin a first draft we need to ask ourselves what do I want to do and for whom? The text is not simply a collection of curated quotes and facts, but a means to an end—to get our audience on board with what we’ve discovered about the problem we’re investigating—and that’s why our purpose needs to be clear in our own minds and in the minds of our readers.
You can see it’s hard to separate purpose from audience—because we need to recognize that our text exists for our readers. If they miss the intent of what we’ve written, they are likely to dismiss our ideas. So, before I talk about writing to a purpose, I’ll say a bit more about the audience because an audience affects our purpose.
We can imagine a target audience. Those readers are the initial recipients of the message. But there are secondary and tertiary readers to be aware of, too. Think of it this way. I write an email to my supervisor that identifies a potentially damaging clientele problem. And let’s say I have an easy-going, joking kind of relationship with my supervisor so I write the email informally and with a humorous tone he will appreciate. My supervisor takes my point and forwards the email on to his supervisor, who forwards it to a vice president. The VP glances at the message and wonders why it even landed in her inbox. In other words, by the time the vice president receives my email, the intent of the message has been lost. Why? Because the humor (directed to one reader) suggests the problem is not a serious one (to another reader).
That brings me back to purpose. What do I want to have happen? Sometimes, our purpose is assigned—by a professor or someone to whom we report. Other times, we arrive at our own purpose. A question might come to mind when we are doing academic reading, so we follow the thread of what others have written about the question until we know we want to contribute a new perspective on the idea. Or in our communities, we might observe certain inequities, so we dig into their root causes and research what others have done to create or solve the problem. In our workplace, we might notice something is not as operational as it could be, and we want to know why and what might be done to change the situation. In effect, we go through a process of inquiry to find out what we want to have happen, in other words, to clarify our purpose.
In my example above, I wanted the company to know the problem I have identified is significant. But before I arrived at that specific purpose, I had to figure out what made the problem big enough that my supervisor and his supervisor needed to pay attention. I had to do some reading, gather some data, play out some scenarios, crunch some numbers. Once I got a handle on the problem, I saw it was a serious one, and, just as important, I realized it was beyond my scope to solve. So, my purpose became to alert the company leaders to a significant problem . All of a sudden—when I thought about who has the power to make the appropriate change—the way I described my purpose became more precise and well-defined. I clarified for myself that my purpose was not to solve a company problem but to alert company leaders .
The writer’s purpose, in conjunction with the audience, impacts every part of the text. The infinitive (i.e., to alert ) sets the trajectory. What follows the infinitive (i.e., the company leaders need to know there is a significant problem ) connects the purpose to the audience. In other words, to make a full statement of purpose I have to say my intent is to alert the company leaders that there is a significant problem . Once I have this statement fully in place, I can make rhetorical decisions about the types of evidence that will create a convincing case, the genre that best delivers the message, and a style and tone that reaches beyond any personal relationship I may have with the initial recipient of the message.
In essence, a writer’s purpose is a GPS. Once we have clarified our intent, we can set that purpose as the final destination. There may be times in the writing process when we will have to re-route ourselves because we have gone off purpose, but keeping our intent in mind we will find our way back to what we want to accomplish. Ultimately, if the writer follows out the logic of her purpose with the right kinds of evidence, reasoning, genre, and tone, the text will carry weight because the message is clear.
Introduction to Professional and Public Writing Copyright © 2020 by Kate Mele, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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The Importance of Writing in the Workplace
Writing well is one of those skills that can help you rise above in your career, no matter what you do. When done well, strong writing almost falls into the background as your information is seamlessly delivered to your audience. On the flip side, poor writing is immediately recognized and can damage your standing. We've all received an email, for example, that had the opposite effect that the author intended.
Strong writing has been linked to critical thinking skills, and it shows an attention to detail necessary in all of your tasks and projects. Whether you're applying for a job, advancing in your career or just trying to improve your current writing skills, research shows that strong writing is important for your success.
If you want to find out more about how strong writing can help you advance in your career and why it's an important tool to develop, check out these sources:
- "I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why." Harvard Business Review Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixIt, reveals why he has new applicants take a grammar test before working at his companies, whether they're applying to be a writer or not.
- "Good Writing Can Help You Succeed" TIME Discover how strong writing can help you succeed in your field, and gain 10 Tips for Better Business Writing that you can implement today!
- "Study: 73% of Employers Want Candidates With This Skill" Inc. Read about why writing is more important than ever in our interconnected digital age filled with new forms of communication.
- "Four reasons for improving your English writing skills in the workplace" LinkedIn Learn why you may want to improve your English writing skills and how it can help you be more successful in your career.
- "The Importance of Technical Writing in the Workplace" eHow Review a brief history of technical writing and find out why this specific form of writing is becoming more important in a variety of industries.
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Why Written Communication Will Always Be A Powerful Workplace Skill
- Anouare Abdou
- March 16, 2023
Communication drives collaboration. Now that hybrid and remote work are here to stay, written communication is especially important – that’s how most work gets done on a daily basis (and why so many Hive features are geared toward facilitating communication). And no, AI is not going to undermine the importance of written communication as a workplace skill.
“ Interpersonal communication is the connective tissue that underscores how business functions, and particularly its company culture. So while generative AI may prove to be of substantial importance when it comes to more mechanical communications processes, anything that’s more qualitative or interpretative will always require human subjectivity – the human touch,” according to Zoë Morris, president of recruitment agency Jefferson Frank .
“I’d like to suggest that we all redouble our efforts to approach internal written communication – including text-to-speech – with intention. The same goes for verbal communication, of course, but because of the speed of business, there is a tendency to abbreviate anything that’s not happening in real-time or face-to-face.”
When your written communication skills are strong, you can leverage the tech at your disposal to increase productivity and improve workplace culture. As Morris puts it, taking the time to compose memos, messages and emails with both clarity and sincerity not only prevents time from being wasted due to misunderstandings, but also fosters better relationships at work.
Written communication is crucial in a hybrid setting
Take, for example, the prevalence of chat features at work. A McKinsey study revealed that by using social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent. Instant messaging allows teams to stay connected. It also provides an opportunity for more effective communication and alignment, particularly when working asynchronously.
“Written communication, unlike oral communication, is not immediate, so it allows us to think, articulates our ideas better, changes some words for others, correct what we write, and be more concise,” says Victor Anaya, co-founder and CEO of Serviap Global . “In addition, when working remotely or in a hybrid environment, having good written communication skills make it easier for everyone on a team to be on the same page.”
Leverage Hive’s native messenger
Hive’s native messenger makes it easy to chat with your team, whether you want to share a project update with a small group of coworkers or want to discuss something one-on-one via direct messaging. Some of its features reduce the time that it would take to type out something. This means you can focus on relaying the information that matters the most, such as an essential piece of context or even an informal moment to catch up, since those matter too.
For example, in Hive, you can quickly drag and drop an action (a task) into a chat window when discussing deliverables. Additionally, when you view someone’s profile, you’ll also be able to see the actions that they’re working on, taking some guesswork out of the collaboration or delegation equation.
Documenting work properly can impact performance
While written communication skills are important for daily conversations with coworkers, they also matter when it comes to documenting work. According to a Mitel survey , nearly 15 percent of employees’ total work time is wasted through inefficient communications. Just imagine how much time teams would save when people can easily access the information they need to do their jobs.
Document work in Hive
Documenting work comes with challenges. First, it’s a habit that you need to cultivate. There also needs to be a system around it – what will you document and where? And who will be responsible for documenting? The answers, of course, depend on the organization, the team involved, and the nature of the work that is performed.
Hive is built to adapt to you and your team’s unique needs. Whether you want to document task-related notes by commenting on Action Cards or use the Hive Notes feature to take notes during brainstorming, the possibilities are endless. Just choose a process that works for you and your team – some trial and error are normal – and stick to it. Create best practices for documenting work, from designating note-takers to creating project templates that include ways to record.
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Don’t Let Your Corporate Purpose Get Lost in the Daily Grind
- Lisa Earle McLeod
- Elizabeth Lotardo
Three strategies to keep your employees focused on the big picture.
When leaders establish a clear line connecting individual jobs to an organizational purpose, it enables everyone to see their part in the larger whole. In their work on purpose activation with more than 150 firms, the authors have developed three strategies to help employees maintain that connection. The first is articulating the ripple effect of people’s work. Encourage employees to reflect on questions like: What happens as a result of my work? The second strategy is to reframe your measures of success. Think about the difference between “number of accounts added” and “number of people we are helping to improve their finances.” Finally, celebrate external impact in addition to internal achievement. Make the connection between why an internal “win” mattered to a stakeholder outside the organization.
In the last decade, organizations have embraced the research validating purpose as a galvanizing force for engagement, innovation, and ultimately, performance.
- Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales strategist and professional speaker whose clients include Salesforce, Kraft Heinz, and Roche. She is the author of Selling with Noble Purpose and an expert in sales transformation. Learn more about Lisa’s work here .
- Elizabeth Lotardo is a researcher and consultant who helps organizations drive revenue and engagement. She is the co-author of Selling with Noble Purpose and holds a master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Connect with Elizabeth here .
Understanding the Purpose of Written Communication
August 27, 2021 | Posted by admin in Marketing
Written communication is a cornerstone of modern society. But why do we communicate? What purpose does it serve? Why are we a society that relies on written communication? It’s a question discussed for thousands of years, and many theories have been proposed. There are numerous advantages to using written communication, but the main one is that it allows us to communicate information to others. It works best as long as you can understand the data. This article will discuss why this particular way of communication is vital for society and some ways you can improve your writing.
What Is The Definition Of Written Communication?
Written communication can be defined as a form of communication that is communicated through writing. It can also be defined as the practice or skill of communicating through writing. It has traditionally been seen as an extension of oral communication. Many people have found that their written skills have decreased over time without practice. With the advent of remote employee work and the need to communicate via messaging apps and emails, people quickly discover that they need to improve written communication skills to portray their feelings, desires, and sentiments more concisely. An operation’s success depends on the quality and comprehension of what the writer intends to convey. For many, this is a skill that they must relearn.
What is the Purpose of Written Communication?
The purpose of written communication is to share a message with people. However, different types of written communication can be classified according to their intended audience and the medium of transmission:
Written Communication For Individuals
An individual sends these types of notes to others or themselves to express what they want to say. These notes provide a personal expression that an individual alone can deliver. These written messages may be sent anonymously, on behalf of someone else, or in response to something.
Written Communication For Groups
These notes are meant for individuals who are gathered together, either for family or business groups. Additionally, You can use them to allow members to share content with those not present during the original authoring.
Why Is The Written Word So Important To Society?
Words are used to express emotions and ideas. They help people to learn, communicate, and share knowledge. Society must write down the data that makes the world a more connected place. In essence, the written word is a way for humans to express themselves. It allows you to share ideas in different ways that are sometimes more personal than spoken words.
Establishes A Permanent Record
Writing down information provides humans with a connection to the past by way of a permanent record. Although there is debate these days about how humans will continue to pass on information in the digital age, the fact remains that writing down what is in your mind creates a permanence that can be disseminated into the future.
Provides Ease Of Distribution
If humans were unable to put their thoughts down on paper, society, as you know it, couldn’t exist. There would be no way of sharing information with other communities outside of verbal communication. This is why those who could read and write were often the rulers and imposed their will on others in ancient times. After more people learned how to read and write and began writing down what they were thinking and sharing it with their communities, rulers’ power began to wane. You can look at Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation as an excellent example of this.
How to improve your written communication skills
While many benefits come with this new world of content sharing, there are also some downsides. With so much content out there, it’s hard to find relevance in today’s society. Therefore, people should know how to properly document the information they wish to share.
Before You Begin Writing, Determine What Your Goal Is
Before you begin writing, determine what your goal is. This will help you get started on the right foot when planning your piece and breaking it down into sections. If you merely begin writing without a proper plan in place, you will soon discover your writing veers off into irrelevant territory.
Don’t Include Details That Aren’t Necessary
When writing, you must always attempt to remain concise and leave out the filler. This is vital to ensure your writing can be read and understood effectively. Business writing emphasizes the importance of clarity even more since the author must convey clearly what is intended. The key to writing concisely is not to limit the length or size of your content. Instead, it means that you should accurately convey what you want to say. If you need only a few words to say it, that is fine. In contrast, if you require a lengthy article to convey a point, you should write it that way.
Creating an outline before you begin writing is essential to cover all of the induration you need. While this might not apply to informal writing, it is a valuable habit to develop. If you don’t outline, you’ll probably end up writing with a stream of consciousness style, which will work for putting words down, but make the next step difficult.
Ensure Thorough Editing
Editing your writing is not an optional step but an intertrial part of writing. Without thorough editing, your work will appear messy and confused. It is also unnecessary for informal writing. Nevertheless, you should spend time editing it so as not to appear uninformed or in a hurry.
This step is exchangeable with editing as you will inevitably go through several rounds of proofreading and editing. You need to proofread your prose to spot errors, learn about what you have written, and see if what you wrote is accurate.
Written communication is a powerful tool that allows people to communicate and exchange ideas. It also helps humans to understand each other. The written word is a powerful tool that has been used for millennia. It can move people to tears, change opinions, encourage action, or even save lives. However, writing is a skill that takes time and effort to master, which is why every individual should learn it to preserve information for future generations.
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What is Workplace Writing?
W orkplace writing may refer to
- communication that accomplishes job-related tasks
- an academic discipline concerned with the study of writing in workplace contexts.
Workplace Writing may also be referred to as Business Writing, Professional Writing, Technical Writing, Writing for Engineers, Writing in the Health Sciences
Related Concepts: Community of Practice (Discourse Community) ; Persona ; Professionalism ; Rhetorical Reasoning ; Rhetorical Stance ; Professional Writing Prose Style ; Styles of Writing ; Tone ; Voice
Why Does Workplace Writing Matter?
You may have heard of business writing , professional writing , and/or technical writing in the past. You may have even come across more specific classifications such as writing for engineers or writing in the health sciences . Each of these types of writing requires different subject matter expertise and invokes different norms around writing style , function, and ethical considerations. However, a significant aspect that ties these types of writing together is that their main goal is to accomplish tasks, and they are often associated with jobs or at least work.
Below I introduce workplace writing as an umbrella term that encompasses written and visual communication within sites of work—an activity that students across academic majors will need to accomplish in their careers.
As we move towards a definition of workplace writing, it’s important to understand the complications with existing terms. For instance, the term “business writing” has historically focused on training for business majors, and applies most readily to for-profit organizations, aiming for efficiency and pace setting around shared understandings of a business’ ethos, culture, and bottom line. Ethics and culture are usually focused around expanding profits, avoiding snafus (thus losing customers), and keeping clients’ interests in mind (thus avoiding lawsuits). “Professional writing” expands the site of business to nonprofit and government organizations that might have guiding values that are not consumer-driven but whose writing is similarly focused on praxis , or action. Racism and misogyny have, however, problematically commandeered the term “professional” to criticize and misrepresent non-normative behavior, profiling everything from hairstyles to clothing choices outside of the white American norm as “unprofessional,” and to enforce the idea that historically dominant white grammar is objectively superior to other forms of language and writing (see this article in Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics by Hull, Shelton, and Mckoy). Moreover, the traditional conceptualization of “professions” in western contexts is typically reserved for stuffy cubicles filled with people in business suits (just search for stock images of “professional”), but that’s not the only type of workplace where successful writing happens. Food trucks, construction sites, and mommy blogs are all sites of workplace writing.
To begin to free skillful writing from the binds of this normative stance, and to expand the understanding of professions beyond white collar office settings, we use the term “workplace writing” here. The truth is that most institutions are workplaces that employ individuals who must communicate in order to manage and complete tasks, and this field is far more nuanced and important than a set of standard grammar rules. In fact, the field of workplace writing centers around problem solving and decision making, issues that invoke theories of deliberation, consensus building, persuasion, and argumentation, to name a few. It can also require (and even lead to) familiarity with and knowledge of business and project management skills, organizational culture, and technical areas like engineering, education, or healthcare. All workplace writers need a baseline understanding of collaborative writing as well as key principles of the rhetorical situation, including audience, medium, exigency, and purpose, which are outlined in the “ rhetoric ” section of Writing Commons .
This article covers some preliminary considerations of workplace writing as both an academic discipline and as a practice. The remainder of this article will review historical and theoretical foundations of workplace documentation, briefly discuss the role of coordination and collaboration in professional writing, and outline some typical workplace writing genres in the United States.
History of Workplace Writing
Workplace writing has a long history. Technical communication, a close neighbor of workplace writing, emerged as a core social component of Renaissance and technological development (Connors, O’Hara; see Bernadette Longo’s Spurious Coin for more on the history of technical communication). Writers of technical and non-fiction information balance humanistic concerns of representation, access, language, and user-centered design with post-modern expectations around clarity, correctness, and effectiveness. Although workplace writing began to gain in popularity as a formal research subject in the 1980s, the practice itself is not new. Written and other forms of communication have been happening in organizations and at worksites for as long as organized groups of people have existed, and long before the field was the formalized and studied practice that we now call “workplace” or “professional writing.”
Premises of Workplace Writing
A fundamental premise of workplace writing is that it is always both social and technical. Technical communication is often referred to in shorthand as “communication to get stuff done.” This aspect of technical writing overlaps with workplace writing in its focus on action. While workplace writing most often focuses on collaboration and argumentation aimed at managing the administration and decision-making within institutions, technical writing focuses on usability and clarity for managing technologies and understanding technical or scientific information. You might think about “technical writing” as a sub-discipline of “workplace writing” that focuses on engineering, scientific, and technology-focused information-sharing tasks within academic, industry, and non-profit organizations, while workplace writing expands that work to non-technical subjects, such as issues of persuasion, collaboration, and correspondence. While there are overlaps with business and science writing, workplace writing is the larger umbrella field, and it often provides students with rhetorical and theoretical foundations and practice with principles of communication as a problem-solving and decision-making practice that help prepare them for a variety of workplaces and for future focus on more field-specific writing norms.
Coordination and Collaboration in Workplace Writing
Coordination and collaboration are terms that are particularly central to workplace writing. Below, I define each of these terms as they relate to workplace writing:
- Coordination means organizing multiple people or processes involved in written communication. Coordinating people might involve holding meetings about what needs to be included in a document or web site, and coordinating processes might be creating a document management system that ensures that everyone is working from the same, most up-to-date draft, or it might mean creating templates and deadlines so that everyone is submitting their part with enough time to put it all together. Coordinating people well often requires special attention to power dynamics to ensure that everyone’s ideas are heard and considered by the group. Coordination in workplace writing settings can also refer to ensuring functional organization and consistency between different sections of a complex document.
- Collaboration means working together to accomplish a task. While coordination usually relies on one person who is in charge to bring together different elements, collaboration is a more horizontal, or equal, practice. Instead of having one person lead, all involved parties are contributing their parts to achieve a common goal. Collaborating on workplace documents will usually result in multiple authors who have written different sections or played different major roles in the development of content.
- Consensus is an agreement between multiple people. People might disagree on ideas or plans (for instance, one person might think that a company needs a social media campaign for new customers and another thinks that sending hand-written letters is a better approach). In order to move forward, they will need to reach consensus, which might rely on power dynamics (e.g. a boss might make “an executive decision), a majority vote among the company, or a compromise. Consensus is the agreement on how to proceed.
Coordination, collaboration, and consensus building can be very difficult when you’re working on documents that include multiple authors and that go on to represent an entire organization. For that reason, workplace writing classes often include lessons on project management and practice through group projects. This is different from other writing classes like first-year composition, where peer review is an important process but serves as a site of your own negotiation with others’ feedback about how to improve your own (rather than joint) paper. While academic writing is often completed and evaluated individually based on the traditional concept that students need to demonstrate understanding of key concepts on their own in order to advance, the very goal of workplace writing is to speak as a single entity that is almost always made up of multiple individuals.
For instance, if you write a critical analysis essay on a timed exam for a literature class, the teacher is likely testing to see if you understood key themes in a book or set of books and how well you can analyze a text. The teacher is testing your skills and your knowledge of the content, and your success will be measured according to how well you, as an individual, perform. On the other hand, if you are working for a non-profit organization that receives funding from the federal government, you might be asked to write an annual report to the funder. The annual report might need to include information about progress that the organization has made in the past year, major accomplishments or milestones, unforeseen circumstances, plans for the upcoming year, and budget information. In this case, you might write some of the content, but you would need to consult other people at the organization who manage program milestones and others who work on the financials. You might be listed as the lead author of the annual report, but the document represents the entire organization and includes content and input from the people who work with you.
In this way, you can start to see how foundational team writing and collaborative work is to workplace writing. In fact, people who study workplace writing have developed a number of theories that are based in rhetoric around how people deliberate and build consensus. Theory is an important aspect of the field of professional, workplace, and technical writing because it provides frameworks for understanding complex writing situations. In fact, coordination, collaboration, and consensus are concepts that should be invoked in determining audience and purpose for external-facing deliverables. Core arguments in policy documents or marketing material should be aligned to the overall organization’s purpose, even if they are written by a single person or a small subset of the organization’s members.
For internal writing, or writing between members of the same organization, audience and purpose will determine tone and style based, in large part, on power dynamics. In many American workplaces, power is distributed hierarchically, so when someone is writing to a superior, they might match communication styles of senior members of the organization, often even writing more formally in regular correspondence than they usually would because of fear of not being taken seriously or even fired by using the same tone they would use among peers at the same level of employment and pay scale. Students of workplace writing should learn to analyze and navigate the role of power within institutions when they learn to conduct audience analyses.
Common Workplace Genres
Elsewhere in Writing Commons , genre is referred to as “a way of naming and classifying texts.” There are several genres that span office workplaces, including:
- Procedural documents, such as instructions, processes, and procedures
- Correspondence such, as email, chats, texts, and letters
- Strategy documents, such as memos, white papers, briefers, and talking points
- Promotional documents, such as social media posts and newsletters
These documents help workplaces function. Often internal, procedural documents aim to make organizations consistent, accountable, and efficient. Process documents might detail how employees are onboarded, how they access key personal and company information such as pay stubs or telephone directories, what to do in the event of emergencies or special events, or how to name and store files that are required for audits and paper trails, among other functions. These documents require consistency in design elements and should be centered in concepts of usability and accessibility so that all members of the organization have fair access to key information. They are usually void of character and heavy branding in favor of function.
As workplaces rely more and more on remote and online environments, tools for regular communication have become increasingly written. Google and Microsoft Teams chatting have largely replaced water cooler and lunchroom conversations. Students of workplace writing should learn to embrace these tools but should be aware of their impacts on privacy and on productivity. More organizations, particularly those that are taxpayer funded, have policies that deem all chats, emails, and video conference recordings are the property of the state or federal government. Thus, they can be accessed when requested by members of the public or be the subject of scrutiny during legal battles or administrative audits. In addition, constant access to remote platforms requires attention to time management.
Documentation is key in codifying and thus cementing, representing, and amplifying organizational strategies and culture. These documents are almost always the result of many rounds of edits and iterations and are often reviewed by members from across an organization’s network before they are approved. The iterative process is similar to classroom-based peer review, in which one lead author is the “drafter,” responsible for developing the original content and implementing edits, only the degree to which they can reject suggested changes is often a power negotiation that must examine the implications of rejecting changes from high-level authorities who may have more access to information about the topic and the audience than the drafter. Strategy documents may be internal- or external-facing, and they often focus on overarching policies and stances. Talking points in particular, which are used to guide organization members who are speaking to the public about a given topic, will be organized with the “bottom line up front,” or BLUF, and provide supporting content that may be background information or specific action steps, after articulating the main stance.
An organizational style guide is a specific strategy document that is focused explicitly on communication through branding, marking, and messaging. This document is usually managed by a communications or public relations team, and it is critical to all external messaging. It can also be a helpful starting point for understanding organizational values and cultures and for organizations themselves to define and articulate their intended values.
Promotional Documents :
Promotional documentation in contemporary western workplaces is generally managed by a communications lead or team. This document type includes social media toolkits, which might include timed posts with text and images to use across different popular platforms, or it may include traditional letter writing and newsletters for potential donors, customers, and other stakeholders who have a vested interest in organizational events and updates. While there is a lot of overlap between marketing and communications teams, it’s important for workplace writing students to understand that, particularly in small organizations, they might place a key role in developing these external public affairs and marketing materials, which rely on understanding commercial design principles and research on intended audiences.
The term workplace writing houses a complex mix of technical, informative, and persuasive deliverables that are bound by rhetorical and coordinating practices. Depending on the context, workplace writing might follow strict rules and be at the mercy of traditional power structures that dictate workplace practices. In other contexts, writing might be an opening for shifting organizational ethos and culture. Students across all disciplines should understand how to analyze a workplace to understand which specific genres are most often employed and how those are structured, as well as how members work together to resolve conflicting ideas about audience and purpose, develop aligned messages, and coordinate and collaborate in content creation and design. To conduct this sort of analysis, you need to engage in r hetorical analysis and rhetorical reasoning .
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Connors, R. J. (1982). The rise of technical writing instruction in America. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 12(4), 329-351.
Hull, B., Shelton, C., & Mckoy, T. (2020). Dressed by not tryin’ to impress. Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, 3 (2), 7-20.
Longo, B. (2000). Spurious coin: A history of science, management, and technical writing. SUNY Press.
O’Hara, F. M. (2001). A brief history of technical communication. In STC’s 48th Annual Conference Proceedings (pp. 500–504). Society for Technical Communication.
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Chapter 5: Audience & Purpose of Writing
Purpose, audience, tone, and content, identifying common academic purposes.
The purpose is simply the reason you are writing a particular document. Basically, the purpose of a piece of writing answers the question “why?” For example, why write a play? To entertain a packed theatre. Why write instructions to the babysitter? To inform them of your schedule and rules. Why write a letter to your Member of Parliament? To persuade them to address your community’s needs.
In academic settings, the reasons for writing typically fulfill four main purposes: to summarize , to analyze , to synthesize , and to evaluate . You will encounter these four purposes not only as you read for your classes but also as you read for work or pleasure. Because reading and writing work together, your writing skills will improve as you read.
Eventually, your instructors will ask you to complete assignments specifically designed to meet one of the four purposes. As you will see, the purpose for writing will guide you through each part of the paper, helping you make decisions about content and style. For now, identifying these purposes by reading paragraphs will prepare you to write individual paragraphs and to build longer assignments.
Summary paragraphs are designed to give the reader a quick overview of a subject or topic of often addresses the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why). This type of paragraph is often found towards the end of an essay or chapter. You may also encounter these types of paragraphs as abstracts or executive summaries .
An analysis separates complex materials into their different parts and studies how the parts relate to one another. The analysis of simple table salt, for example, would require a deconstruction of its parts—the elements sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl). Then, scientists would study how the two elements interact to create the compound NaCl, or sodium chloride, which is also called simple table salt.
Analysis is not limited to the sciences, of course. An analysis paragraph in academic writing fulfills the same purpose. Instead of deconstructing chemical compounds, academic analysis paragraphs typically deconstruct documents. An analysis takes apart a primary source (an essay, a book, an article, etc.) point by point. It communicates the main points of the document by examining individual points and identifying how they relate to one another. Take a look at a student’s analysis of the journal report.
Notice how the analysis does not simply repeat information from the original report, but considers how the points within the report relate to one another? By doing this, the student uncovers a discrepancy between the points that are backed up by statistics and those that require additional information. Analyzing a document involves a close examination of each of the individual parts and how they work together.
A synthesis combines two or more items to create an entirely new item. Consider the electronic musical instrument aptly named the synthesizer. It looks like a simple keyboard but displays a dashboard of switches, buttons, and levers. With the flip of a few switches, a musician may combine the distinct sounds of a piano, a flute, or a guitar—or any other combination of instruments—to create a new sound. The purpose of the synthesizer is to blend together the notes from individual instruments to form new, unique notes.
The purpose of an academic synthesis is to blend individual documents into a new document. An academic synthesis paragraph considers the main points from one or more pieces of writing and links the main points together to create a new point, one not replicated in either document.
Take a look at a student’s synthesis of several sources about underage drinking.
Notice how the synthesis paragraphs consider each source and use information from each to create a new thesis. A good synthesis does not repeat information; the writer uses a variety of sources to create a new idea.
An evaluation judges the value of something and determines its worth. Evaluations in everyday experiences are often not only dictated by set standards but are also influenced by opinion and prior knowledge. For example, at work, a supervisor may complete an employee evaluation by judging his subordinate’s performance based on the company’s goals. If the company focuses on improving communication, the supervisor will rate the employee’s customer service according to a standard scale. However, the evaluation still depends on the supervisor’s opinion and prior experience with the employee. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine how well the employee performs on the job.
An academic evaluation communicates your opinion, and its justifications, about a document or a topic of discussion. Evaluations are influenced by your reading of the document, your prior knowledge, and your prior experience with the topic or issue. Because an evaluation incorporates your point of view and the reasons for your point of view, it typically requires more critical thinking and a combination of summary, analysis, and synthesis skills. Thus evaluation paragraphs often follow summary, analysis, and synthesis paragraphs. Read a student’s evaluation paragraph.
Notice how the paragraph incorporates the student’s personal judgment within the evaluation. Evaluating a document requires prior knowledge that is often based on additional research.
Read the following paragraphs about four films and then identify the purpose of each paragraph.
This film could easily have been cut down to less than two hours. By the final scene, I noticed that most of my fellow moviegoers were snoozing in their seats and were barely paying attention to what was happening on screen. Although the director sticks diligently to the book, he tries too hard to cram in all the action, which is just too ambitious for such a detail-oriented story. If you want my advice, read the book and give the movie a miss.
During the opening scene, we learn that the character Laura is adopted and that she has spent the past three years desperately trying to track down her real parents. Having exhausted all the usual options—adoption agencies, online searches, family trees, and so on—she is on the verge of giving up when she meets a stranger on a bus. The chance encounter leads to a complicated chain of events that ultimately result in Laura getting her lifelong wish. But is it really what she wants? Throughout the rest of the film, Laura discovers that sometimes the past is best left where it belongs.
To create the feeling of being gripped in a vise, the director, May Lee, uses a variety of elements to gradually increase the tension. The creepy, haunting melody that subtly enhances the earlier scenes becomes ever more insistent, rising to a disturbing crescendo toward the end of the movie. The desperation of the actors, combined with the claustrophobic atmosphere and tight camera angles create a realistic firestorm, from which there is little hope of escape. Walking out of the theatre at the end feels like staggering out of a Roman dungeon.
The scene in which Campbell and his fellow prisoners assist the guards in shutting down the riot immediately strikes the viewer as unrealistic. Based on the recent reports on prison riots in both Detroit and California, it seems highly unlikely that a posse of hardened criminals would intentionally help their captors at the risk of inciting future revenge from other inmates. Instead, both news reports and psychological studies indicate that prisoners who do not actively participate in a riot will go back to their cells and avoid conflict altogether. Examples of this lack of attention to detail occur throughout the film, making it almost unbearable to watch.
Collaboration: Share with a classmate and compare your answers.
Writing at Work
Thinking about the purpose of writing a report in the workplace can help focus and structure the document. A summary should provide colleagues with a factual overview of your findings without going into too much detail. In contrast, an evaluation should include your personal opinion, along with supporting evidence, research, or examples to back it up. Listen for words such as summarize , analyze , synthesize , or evaluate when your boss asks you to complete a report to help determine a purpose for writing.
Consider the expository essay you will soon have to write. Identify the most effective academic purpose for the assignment.
My assignment: ____________________________________________
My purpose: ________________________________________________
Identifying the Audience
Imagine you must give a presentation to a group of executives in an office. Weeks before the big day, you spend time creating and rehearsing the presentation. You must make important, careful decisions not only about the content but also about your delivery. Will the presentation require technology to project figures and charts? Should the presentation define important words, or will the executives already know the terms? Should you wear your suit and dress shirt? The answers to these questions will help you develop an appropriate relationship with your audience, making them more receptive to your message.
Now imagine you must explain the same business concepts from your presentation to a group of high school students. Those important questions you previously answered may now require different answers. The figures and charts may be too sophisticated, and the terms will certainly require definitions. You may even reconsider your outfit and sport a more casual look. Because the audience has shifted, your presentation and delivery will shift as well to create a new relationship with the new audience.
In these two situations, the audience —the individuals who will watch and listen to the presentation—plays a role in the development of presentation. As you prepare the presentation, you visualize the audience to anticipate their expectations and reactions. What you imagine affects the information you choose to present and how you will present it. Then, during the presentation, you meet the audience in person and discover immediately how well you perform.
Although the audience for writing assignments—your readers—may not appear in person, they play an equally vital role. Even in everyday writing activities, you identify your readers’ characteristics, interests, and expectations before making decisions about what you write. In fact, thinking about audience has become so common that you may not even detect the audience driven decisions.
For example, you update your status on a social networking site with the awareness of who will digitally follow the post. If you want to brag about a good grade, you may write the post to please family members. If you want to describe a funny moment, you may write with your friends’ sense of humour in mind. Even at work, you send emails with an awareness of an unintended receiver who could intercept the message.
In other words, being aware of “invisible” readers is a skill you most likely already possess and one you rely on every day. Consider the following paragraphs. Which one would the author send to her parents? Which one would she send to her best friend?
Last Saturday, I volunteered at a local hospital. The visit was fun and rewarding. I even learned how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. Unfortunately, I think caught a cold from one of the patients. This week, I will rest in bed and drink plenty of clear fluids. I hope I am well by next Saturday to volunteer again.
Most likely, you matched each paragraph to its intended audience with little hesitation. Because each paragraph reveals the author’s relationship with her intended readers, you can identify the audience fairly quickly. When writing your own paragraphs, you must engage with your audience to build an appropriate relationship given your subject. Imagining your readers during each stage of the writing process will help you make decisions about your writing. Ultimately, the people you visualize will affect what and how you write.
PRO TIP: While giving a speech, you may articulate an inspiring or critical message, but if you left your hair a mess and laced up mismatched shoes, your audience would not take you seriously. They may be too distracted by your appearance to listen to your words.
Similarly, grammar and sentence structure serve as the appearance of a piece of writing. Polishing your work using correct grammar will impress your readers and allow them to focus on what you have to say.
Because focusing on audience will enhance your writing, your process, and your finished product, you must consider the specific traits of your audience members. Use your imagination to anticipate the readers’ demographics, education, prior knowledge, and expectations.
- Demographics: These measure important data about a group of people, such as their age range, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or gender. Certain topics and assignments will require you to consider these factors as they relate to your audience. For other topics and assignments, these measurements may not influence your writing. Regardless, it is important to consider demographics when you begin to think about your purpose for writing.
- Education: Education considers the audience’s level of schooling. If audience members have earned a doctorate degree, for example, you may need to elevate your style and use more formal language. Or, if audience members are still in college, you could write in a more relaxed style. An audience member’s major or emphasis may also dictate your writing.
- Prior knowledge: Prior knowledge is what the audience already knows about your topic. If your readers have studied certain topics, they may already know some terms and concepts related to the topic. You may decide whether to define terms and explain concepts based on your audience’s prior knowledge. Although you cannot peer inside the brains of your readers to discover their knowledge, you can make reasonable assumptions. For instance, a nursing major would presumably know more about health-related topics than a business major would.
- Expectations: These indicate what readers will look for while reading your assignment. Readers may expect consistencies in the assignment’s appearance, such as correct grammar and traditional formatting like double-spaced lines and a legible font. Readers may also have content-based expectations given the assignment’s purpose and organization. In an essay titled “The Economics of Enlightenment: The Effects of Rising Tuition,” for example, audience members may expect to read about the economic repercussions of post-secondary tuition costs.
On a sheet of paper, generate a list of characteristics under each category for each audience. This list will help you later when you read about tone and content.
Your classmates: Demographics ____________________________________________ Education ____________________________________________ Prior knowledge ____________________________________________ Expectations ____________________________________________ Demographics ____________________________________________ Education ____________________________________________ Prior knowledge ____________________________________________ Expectations ____________________________________________ The head of your academic department Demographics ____________________________________________ Education ____________________________________________ Prior knowledge ____________________________________________ Expectations ____________________________________________
Now think about your next writing assignment. Identify the purpose (you may use the same purpose listed in Self–Practice Exercise 1.6b and then identify the audience. Create a list of characteristics under each category.
My assignment:____________________________________________ My purpose: ____________________________________________ My audience: ____________________________________________
Demographics ____________________________________________ Education ____________________________________________ Prior knowledge ____________________________________________ Expectations ____________________________________________
Collaboration: please share with a classmate and compare your answers.
Keep in mind that as your topic shifts in the writing process, your audience may also shift. Also, remember that decisions about style depend on audience, purpose, and content. Identifying your audience’s demographics, education, prior knowledge, and expectations will affect how you write, but purpose and content play an equally important role. The next subsection covers how to select an appropriate tone to match the audience and purpose.
Selecting an Appropriate Tone
Tone identifies a speaker’s attitude toward a subject or another person. You may pick up a person’s tone of voice fairly easily in conversation. A friend who tells you about her weekend may speak excitedly about a fun skiing trip. An instructor who means business may speak in a low, slow voice to emphasize her serious mood. Or, a co-worker who needs to let off some steam after a long meeting may crack a sarcastic joke. Tone is important because the way you might speak to your friends (“oh shut up, it’s fine…”) would definitely not be appropriate when speaking to your boss or your professor.
Just as speakers transmit emotion through voice, writers can transmit through writing a range of attitudes, from excited and humorous to somber and critical. These emotions create connections among the audience, the author, and the subject, ultimately building a relationship between the audience and the text. To stimulate these connections, writers intimate their attitudes and feelings with useful devices, such as sentence structure, word choice, punctuation, and formal or informal language. Keep in mind that the writer’s attitude should always appropriately match the audience and the purpose, which means that you need to choose appropriate language and sentence structure that will convey your ideas with your intent.
Read the following paragraph and consider the writer’s tone. How would you describe the writer’s attitude toward wildlife conservation?
Think about the assignment and purpose you selected in Self–Practice Exercise 1.6b and the audience you selected in Self–Practice Exercise 1.6c. Now, identify the tone you would use in the assignment.
My assignment: ____________________________________________ My purpose: ____________________________________________ My audience: ____________________________________________ My tone: ____________________________________________
Choosing Appropriate, Interesting Content
Content refers to all the written substance in a document. After selecting an audience and a purpose, you must choose what information will make it to the page. Content may consist of examples, statistics, facts, anecdotes, testimonies, and observations, but no matter the type, the information must be appropriate and interesting for the audience and purpose. An essay written for grade 3 students that summarizes the legislative process, for example, would have to contain succinct and simple content.
Content is also shaped by tone. When the tone matches the content, the audience will be more engaged, and you will build a stronger relationship with your readers. Consider that audience of grade 3 students. You would choose simple content that the audience will easily understand, and you would express that content through an enthusiastic tone. The same considerations apply to all audiences and purposes.
Using the assignment, purpose, audience, and tone fromSelf–Practice Exercise 1.6d, generate a list of content ideas. Remember that content consists of examples, statistics, facts, anecdotes, testimonies, and observations.
My assignment: ____________________________________________ My purpose: ____________________________________________ My audience: ____________________________________________ My tone: ____________________________________________ My content ideas: ____________________________________________
Common Writing Assignments
Writing assignments at the post-secondary level serve a different purpose than the typical writing assignments you completed in high school. In high school, teachers generally focus on teaching you to write in a variety of modes and formats, including personal writing, expository writing, research papers, creative writing, and writing short answers and essays for exams. Over time, these assignments help you build a foundation of writing skills.
Now, however, your instructors will expect you to already have that foundation. Your composition courses will focus on helping you make the transition to higher-level writing assignments. However, in most of your other courses, writing assignments serve a different purpose. In those courses, you may use writing as one tool among many for learning how to think about a particular academic discipline.
Additionally, certain assignments teach you how to meet the expectations for professional writing in a given field. Depending on the class, you might be asked to write a lab report, a case study, a literary analysis, a business plan, or an account of a personal interview. You will need to learn and follow the standard conventions for those types of written products.
Finally, personal and creative writing assignments are less common at the post-secondary level than in high school. College and university courses emphasize expository writing—writing that explains or informs. Often expository writing assignments will incorporate outside research, too. Some classes will also require persuasive writing assignments in which you state and support your position on an issue. Your instructors will hold you to a higher standard when it comes to supporting your ideas with reasons and evidence.
Common Types of Writing Assignments
Part of managing your education is communicating well with others at your institution. For instance, you might need to email your instructor to request an office appointment or explain why you will need to miss a class. You might need to contact administrators with questions about your tuition or financial aid. Later, you might ask instructors to write recommendations on your behalf.
Treat these documents as professional communications. Address the recipient politely; state your question, problem, or request clearly; and use a formal, respectful tone. Doing so helps you make a positive impression and get a quicker response.
Using the Writing Process
To complete a writing project successfully, good writers use some variation of the following process.
The Writing Process
- Prewriting. The writer generates ideas to write about and begins developing these ideas.
- Outlining a structure of ideas. The writer determines the overall organizational structure of the writing and creates an outline to organize ideas. Usually this step involves some additional fleshing out of the ideas generated in the first step.
- Writing a rough draft. The writer uses the work completed in prewriting to develop a first draft. The draft covers the ideas the writer brainstormed and follows the organizational plan that was laid out in the first step.
- Revising. The writer revisits the draft to review and, if necessary, reshape its content. This stage involves moderate and sometimes major changes: adding or deleting a paragraph, phrasing the main point differently, expanding on an important idea, reorganizing content, and so forth.
- Editing. The writer reviews the draft to make additional changes. Editing involves making changes to improve style and adherence to standard writing conventions—for instance, replacing a vague word with a more precise one or fixing errors in grammar and spelling. Once this stage is complete, the work is a finished piece and ready to share with others.
Chances are you have already used this process as a writer. You may also have used it for other types of creative projects, such as developing a sketch into a finished painting or composing a song. The steps listed above apply broadly to any project that involves creative thinking. You come up with ideas (often vague at first), you work to give them some structure, you make a first attempt, you figure out what needs improving, and then you refine it until you are satisfied.
Most people have used this creative process in one way or another, but many people have misconceptions about how to use it to write. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions students have about the writing process:
- “I do not have to waste time on prewriting if I understand the assignment.” Even if the task is straightforward and you feel ready to start writing, take some time to develop ideas before you plunge into your draft. Freewriting —writing about the topic without stopping for a set period of time—is one prewriting technique you might try in that situation.
- “It is important to complete a formal, numbered outline for every writing assignment.” For some assignments, such as lengthy research papers, proceeding without a formal outline can be very difficult. However, for other assignments, a structured set of notes or a detailed graphic organizer may suffice. The important thing is to have a solid plan for organizing ideas and details.
- “My draft will be better if I write it when I am feeling inspired.” By all means, take advantage of those moments of inspiration. However, understand that sometimes you will have to write when you are not in the mood. Sit down and start your draft even if you do not feel like it. If necessary, force yourself to write for just one hour. By the end of the hour, you may be far more engaged and motivated to continue. If not, at least you will have accomplished part of the task.
- “My instructor will tell me everything I need to revise.” If your instructor chooses to review drafts, the feedback can help you improve. However, it is still your job, not your instructor’s, to transform the draft to a final, polished piece. That task will be much easier if you give your best effort to the draft before submitting it. During revision, do not just go through and implement your instructor’s corrections. Take time to determine what you can change to make the work the best it can be.
- “I am a good writer, so I do not need to revise or edit.” Even talented writers still need to revise and edit their work. At the very least, doing so will help you catch an embarrassing typo or two. Revising and editing are the steps that make good writers into great writers.
Managing Your Time
When your instructor gives you a writing assignment, write the due date on your calendar. Then work backward from the due date to set aside blocks of time when you will work on the assignment. Always plan at least two sessions of writing time per assignment, so that you are not trying to move from step 1 to step 5 in one evening. Trying to work that fast is stressful, and it does not yield great results. You will plan better, think better, and write better if you space out the steps.
Ideally, you should set aside at least three separate blocks of time to work on a writing assignment: one for prewriting and outlining, one for drafting, and one for revising and editing. Sometimes those steps may be compressed into just a few days. If you have a couple of weeks to work on a paper, space out the five steps over multiple sessions. Long-term projects, such as research papers, require more time for each step:
Again, an assignment calculator is an incredibly useful tool for helping with this process:
Writing for Academic and Professional Contexts: An Introduction Copyright © 2023 by Sheridan College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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What is Written Communication: Definition, Examples & Skills
Table of Contents
Written word plays an increasingly important role whether sending emails, texting, or writing reports, we are constantly using written communication to convey our thoughts to others. But what exactly is written communication?
In this blog post, we’ll explore everything about written communication starting from the definition, types, importance, principles, and much more. So whether you’re a student, a professional, or simply looking to improve your communication skills, th is post is for you.
Definition of written communication
“Written communication is the art of conveying information or ideas through the written word. It is a form of expression that can be used to inform, persuade, entertain, or inspire.” – William Zinsser , On Writing Well,
What is written communication?
Written communication refers to the process of exchanging information or messages through written words. It can take many forms, including emails, letters, articles, social media posts, and even text messages. In written communication, the sender conveys a message to the receiver using written language, which can be understood and interpreted by the recipient.
This mode of communication is usually used when the sender and receiver are physically distant, or when a record of the communication is needed for future reference. Effective written communication involves using clear and concise language, organizing information logically, and considering the needs of the audience.
Nature of written communication
The nature of written communication is characterized by the use of written words to convey information, ideas, and messages. Written communication is typically more formal and structured than verbal communication.
The accessibility of written communication also allows for a wider audience to receive the message, regardless of time or distance. However, written communication can lack immediate feedback and emotional cues.
Scope of written communication
The scope of written communication is extensive, including various forms and purposes across many different fields. In the business context, written communication plays a crucial role in internal and external communication, including emails, proposals, and presentations.
In personal and social contexts, written communication is used for expressing emotions, sharing ideas, and building relationships through letters, and social media posts. Overall the scope of written communication is constantly evolving with the development of new technologies and mediums, making it an essential skill for effective communication.
What are the objectives of written communication?
Written communication is a critical tool for effectively conveying messages and achieving desired outcomes. Whether it’s for conveying information, persuading readers, or building relationships, the objectives of written communication are diverse. In this section, we will explore some common objectives of written communication that can help you communicate more effectively.
1/ Conveying information: The primary objective of written communication is to convey information or ideas clearly and effectively. This includes sharing facts, instructions, data, reports, or any other relevant details that need to be communicated effectively.
2/ Record-Keeping: A crucial objective of written communication is to maintain a permanent record of information or transactions. This can be important for legal or professional purposes, or simply to ensure that important details are not forgotten.
3/ Persuasion: Written communication can be a powerful tool for persuasion, whether in a marketing context or in advocacy work. This objective is common in advertising, marketing, and sales, where the goal is to convince the recipient to take a specific action
4/ Building relationships: Written communication can also be used to build and maintain relationships, whether in a personal or professional context. This can involve expressing gratitude, offering encouragement, or sharing personal insights.
5/ Informing and Educating: Written communication can be used to educate or inform readers about specific topics, whether through informative articles, textbooks, or instructional materials.
6/ Establishing Clarity: Written communication aims to eliminate ambiguity and ensure clarity in conveying messages. This objective involves using precise and well-structured language to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
Usage of written communication
The primary usage of written communication in business and professional settings are as follows:
- Advertising and Marketing: Written communication is essential in advertising and marketing, where it is used to promote products, services
- Legal Documentation: Written communication plays a critical role in legal contexts, where it is used for drafting legal documents, such as contracts and agreements.
- Business Communication: Written communication is extensively utilized for various business purposes. This includes writing emails, business reports, proposals, sales letters , and presentations.
- Social Media and Online Communication: With the rise of social media and digital platforms, written communication has become essential for online interactions.
What are the features of written communication?
Written communication has several unique features that make it an effective and adaptable method of conveying messages. Understanding the objectives of written communication can help you craft messages that are well-received and achieve your desired outcomes. In the following section, we will explore some common objectives of written communication
1/ Permanence: Written communication is typically a permanent record of the message being conveyed, which means it can be referred back to later for clarification.
2/ Clarity: One of the primary features of written communication is its ability to convey a message clearly. The writer can take the time to craft their message in a precise and structured manner, avoiding any confusion.
3/ Formality: Written communication is often more formal and structured than verbal communication. It usually follows a particular format or style guide, depending on the context and audience.
4/ Absence of Non-Verbal Cues: Unlike face-to-face or oral communication, written communication lacks the presence of non-verbal cues such as body language, tone of voice, or facial expressions.
5/ Audience-specific: Written communication can be tailored to specific audiences, using language and tone appropriate for the intended reader.
6/ Flexibility: Written communication can take many forms, including letters, reports, memos, emails, and texts, making it a versatile communication tool.
4 Types of written communication
Various types of written communication are utilized to facilitate effective communication and ensure smooth operations. Here are some common types of written communication in the workplace:
1/ Emails: Email communication is a fundamental type of written communication in the workplace. It is used for a wide range of purposes, including sending project updates, requesting information, sharing files, and communicating with colleagues.
Related Reading: Advantages of emailing at work
2/ Business Letters: Business letters are professionally written correspondences that are typically sent to external stakeholders, including clients or partners, aiming to maintain formal communication and establish professional relationships. They are used for various purposes, such as making inquiries, submitting proposals, or issuing official communications.
3/ Instant Messaging: In the workplace instant messaging platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams are frequently utilized for casual and informal written communication .
4/ Reports: Reports are formal documents that present detailed information, analysis, or findings on a specific topic or project. They are commonly used in the workplace to provide updates on project progress.
Form of written communication in the office Demi official letter Office memorandum Telegram Express letters Formal and informal letters Office order FAX
Examples of written communication at the workplace
1/ Newsletters: Newsletters are written publications that are distributed to employees or customers. They are used to share company news, updates on projects or products, and other important information.
2/ Job Descriptions: Job descriptions are written documents that describe the duties and responsibilities of a particular job.
Template of Job-Description Job Description – Marketing Manager Reports to: [Manager’s Name] Department: Marketing Job Purpose: The Marketing Manager is responsible for developing and executing marketing strategies to support the company’s goals. This position requires a strong understanding of market trends, consumer behavior, and marketing channels. Key Responsibilities: Develop and execute marketing strategies and campaigns to promote company products or services Conduct market research and analyze consumer behavior to inform marketing strategies Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Business, or a related field 5+ years of experience in marketing or related field
4/ Policies and Procedures: Policies and procedures are written documents that outline the rules and regulations of an organization. They are used to ensure consistency, communicate expectations, and provide a basis for performance evaluations.
5/ Feedback Forms: Feedback forms are written documents that ask for feedback from employees, customers, or clients. They are used to gather information on the quality of a product or service, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.
Importance of written communication
Written communication plays a crucial role in conveying information effectively in both personal and professional contexts. It helps to document important details and ensure clarity and accuracy of information.
In a professional context, written communication is often used for formal correspondence, such as business letters, reports, and proposals. These forms of communication are essential for conducting business, sharing information, and making decisions, and they require a high level of professionalism and attention to detail.
In personal contexts, written communication can take various forms, such as text messages, social media posts, or emails. Such types of communication help in connecting individuals despite geographical boundaries and differences in time zones.
Process of formal written communication
Formal written communication typically follows a structured process to ensure accuracy, clarity, and professionalism. Here are the key steps in the process of good formal written communication:
1/ Planning: This involves identifying the purpose and audience of the message, gathering relevant information, and outlining the main points to be addressed in the message.
2/ Drafting: This step involves composing the message by organizing the information gathered during the planning phase into a coherent and logical sequence. The choice of language should be suitable for the intended audience, ensuring a formal and professional tone is maintained.
3/ Reviewing: Once the message has been written, it is crucial to review it for accuracy, clarity, and completeness, which includes checking for mistakes in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting. It is recommended to have another person review the message for a fresh perspective.
4/ Revising: Based on feedback from the review, revisions should be made to the message to ensure that it is concise, clear, and effective in achieving its intended purpose.
5/ Editing: This involves making final adjustments to the message, checking for any remaining errors, and ensuring that it complies with the organization’s style and formatting guidelines.
6/ Proofreading: This is the final step in the process, which involves a careful reading of the message to ensure that it is error-free and ready for distribution.
By following these steps, the process of formal written communication ensures that the message is well-planned, and well-received by its intended audience.
Principles of written communication
The principles of written communication are guidelines that help ensure effective and impactful communication through written means. Here are some key principles:
1/ Clarity: The message should be clear and easy to understand, with a well-organized structure and coherent flow of ideas.
2/ Conciseness: The message should be brief and focused, avoiding unwanted details or repetitive information.
3/ Correctness: The message should have proper grammar, accurate spelling, punctuation, and formatting.
4/ Completeness: The message should be comprehensive, ensuring it includes all essential information related to the topic, including relevant background or context when necessary.
5/ Consideration of Audience: Customize your writing to align with the requirements and expectations of your intended audience, taking into account their knowledge, background, and familiarity with the subject matter.
6/ Courtesy: Maintain a respectful and professional tone in your writing. Use polite and considerate language, and avoid any offensive remarks.
7/ Consistency: Maintain consistency in tone, style, and formatting throughout the document. This contributes to establishing a professional impression.
Extra leanings: 8 Rules of Good Quality written communication in social work practice Provide a clear and focused structure, outlining key ideas in the introduction. Develop a unique and relevant argument to stand out. Support statements with evidence and logical reasoning. Understand and use the language of your audience. Use active voice for stronger statements. Avoid repetition and present points in a logical order. Check punctuation, and spelling, and utilize available tools. Edit your work and seek feedback for improvement. These rules emphasize clarity, evidence-based communication, and effective editing to enhance the quality of written messages. ( Source )
Elements of written communication
The elements of writing work together to create effective written communication. A clear understanding and application of the following elements can help ensure that the message is delivered and received in the intended manner.
- Sender: The sender is the person or entity initiating the communication. They have a specific message or information to convey through written form.
- Message: The message refers to the content or information that the sender intends to convey. It can include facts, ideas, opinions, instructions, or any other relevant information.
- Medium: The medium refers to the channel or platform through which written communication is transmitted. It can be in the form of memos, reports, presentations, or any other written format.
- Audience/Recipient: The audience or recipient is the intended receiver of the written communication.
- Purpose: The purpose of written communication is the specific goal or objective the sender aims to achieve. It can be to inform, instruct, request, or any other desired outcome.
- Structure and Organization: Written communication should possess a structure that is clear and logically organized. It should follow a logical flow, with ideas presented in a well-organized manner, using headings, paragraphs, bullet points, or other formatting techniques.
- Tone and Style: The tone and style of written communication are influenced by the purpose, audience, and context in which it is used. It should be appropriate and consistent throughout the message.
- Language and Clarity: The choice of language and clarity are crucial elements of written communication. It should use clear, concise, and precise language, avoiding jargon, or unnecessary complexity.
- Feedback and Response: Written communication allows for feedback and response from the recipient. Encouraging a feedback loop helps to ensure understanding, clarify any questions or concerns, and facilitate effective communication.
What are written communication skills?
Written communication skills refer to the abilities and competencies required to effectively convey ideas through written form. These skills encompass various aspects. Here is a brief overview of key components of written communication skills:
1/ Clarity: The ability to express ideas and information clearly and concisely, ensuring that the message is easily understood by the intended audience.
2/ Grammar and Language: Expertise in using correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling to ensure accuracy and precision in written communication.
3/ Vocabulary: A rich and varied vocabulary enables effective communication by selecting the appropriate words to convey meaning accurately, enhance clarity, and engage the reader.
4/ Tone and Style: The ability to adapt the tone and style of writing to suit the audience, purpose, and context.
5/ Adaptability to Formats: Skilled written communicators can adapt their writing style to various formats, such as emails, or essays.
6/ Editing and Proofreading: Strong written communication skills include the ability to revise, edit, and proofread written work for clarity, grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
7/ Research and Referencing: Proficient written communicators can conduct research, gather relevant information, and appropriately incorporate references to support their claims.
Purpose of written communication skills
The purpose of written communication skills is to effectively convey ideas, through written form. Strong written communication skills enable individuals to express themselves clearly and precisely, ensuring that their intended meaning is accurately conveyed to the reader.
By mastering written communication skills, individuals can create documents, reports, emails, and other written resources that are organized, leading to successful communication.
Importance of grammar, spelling, and punctuation
The importance of grammar, spelling, and punctuation cannot be overstated when it comes to written communication. These elements are essential in conveying clear and precise messages that are easily understood by the reader.
Proper grammar ensures that sentences are structured correctly, with appropriate subject-verb agreement and consistent use of tenses. Correct spelling avoids confusion and misinterpretation of words, while punctuation aids in creating clear and concise sentences that flow logically.
Tips for organizing and structuring written content Start with a clear introduction that outlines the main ideas. Use headings and subheadings to organize content into logical sections. Follow a coherent flow of ideas, transitioning smoothly between paragraphs. Use bullet points or numbered lists for presenting information concisely. Summarize key points in a conclusion or a concluding paragraph. Consider the use of visual aids like charts or diagrams to enhance organization. Use appropriate formatting techniques to enhance readability and clarity.
Difference between verbal and written communication
Difference between oral and written communication, similarities between written and oral communication .
- Medium: Both involve a specific medium through which communication takes place.
- Written communication utilizes texts, emails, letters, reports, etc.
- Oral communication occurs through face-to-face conversations, phone calls, speeches, etc.
- Language: Both require the use of language as a means of expression.
- Written and oral communication rely on grammar, vocabulary, and syntax to convey messages effectively.
- Purpose: Both serve the purpose of conveying information, ideas, and thoughts.
- Written and oral communication are used to inform, persuade, entertain, educate, or express emotions.
- Context: Both are influenced by the context in which communication occurs.
- Written and oral communication are shaped by the environment, relationships between individuals, and cultural factors.
- Clarity: Both require clear and coherent expression to ensure understanding.
- Both forms of communication necessitate organizing thoughts and ideas in a logical and understandable manner.
- Audience: Both target an audience or recipient(s) for effective communication.
- In written and oral communication, the message is directed toward specific individuals or groups.
- Adaptability: Both can be adapted to suit different communication purposes and styles.
- Written and oral communication can be adjusted to accommodate various contexts, audiences, and communication goals.
- Feedback: Both allow for feedback and response from the recipient(s).
- In both forms, the communicator receives responses, questions, or comments that contribute to the exchange of information.
- Communication Skills: Both require effective communication skills for successful interaction.
- Active listening, clear expression, empathy, and understanding are essential skills for both written and oral communication.
- Structure: Both can benefit from organizing ideas logically and using appropriate formatting.
- Whether in writing or speaking, structuring information enhances clarity, coherence, and overall effectiveness.
To know more check out our detailed article on: What are the similarities and differences between oral and written communication?
Advantages and disadvantages of written communication
Advantages of written communication:.
1/ Permanent record: Written communication creates a record of the message, offering a valuable point of reference or potential evidence, especially in legal or business settings.
2/ Clarity and precision: Writing allows the author to choose their words carefully, providing a clear and precise message that is less likely to be misunderstood.
3/ Accessibility: Written communication can be accessed at any time, allowing the recipient to read and review the message at their own pace.
4/ Documentation: Written communication can be used to document policies, procedures, and other important information that can be easily shared and referenced by others.
5/ Professionalism: Written communication is often viewed as more professional than oral communication, particularly in formal contexts such as business or academia.
Disadvantages of Written Communication:
1/ Lack of immediate feedback: Unlike oral communication, written communication lacks receiving instant feedback or real-time clarification. This can lead to misunderstandings or delays in resolving issues.
2/ Lack of personal touch: The effectiveness of conveying emotions or fostering relationships through written communication may be limited due to its lack of personal touch.
3/ Time-consuming: Effective writing of a message requires a certain level of skill and can be time-consuming.
4/ Language barriers: Written communication can be difficult for individuals who are not proficient in the language used, which can limit its effectiveness in a diverse workplace.
5/ Lack of nonverbal cues: Nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, which are present in oral communication, are lacking in written communication.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Strengths and Weaknesses of written communication
What are the advantages of written communication over verbal communication?
The advantages of written communication over verbal communication include the ability to carefully craft and revise messages for clarity and accuracy. Additionally, written communication also allows for thoughtful reflection and consideration of messages, and is well-suited for conveying complex or technical information. However, it may lack the personal connection and immediate feedback of verbal communication.
Related Reading : Strengths and Weaknesses of verbal communication
Benefits of face-to-face communication over written communication
The benefits of face-to-face communication over written communication include the ability to establish a personal connection and receive immediate feedback and responses. In addition, the use of non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, allows for greater context and clarity.
What are the barriers to written communication?
Understanding the barriers can help individuals develop strategies to reduce their impact and enhance the effectiveness of written communication. This may involve clear and concise writing, and utilizing appropriate tools and platforms to enhance communication.
1/Poor grammar and spelling: Intended messages can be distracted and misinterpreted due to poor grammar and spelling. It can also undermine the credibility and professionalism of the sender.
2/Technical jargon: The use of technical jargon or specialized language can be confusing for recipients who are not familiar with the terminology used, leading to a breakdown in communication.
3/Lack of clarity: Written messages that are unclear or lengthy can be difficult to understand and may result in confusion or misunderstanding.
4/Lack of Non-Verbal Cues: Written communication lacks non-verbal cues, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, which are important for conveying emotions, intention, and context.
5/Lack of Clarification: Unlike verbal communication, written communication does not offer immediate opportunities for recipients to seek clarification or ask questions in real time.
6/Information Overload: Written communication can sometimes overwhelm recipients with excessive or complex information. Lengthy emails, dense reports, or complex language can make it difficult for readers to extract key messages
What are the factors to consider when choosing written communication
Choosing the right approach and tone is crucial, particularly when dealing with different audiences or situations. In this context, there are several factors to keep in check when drafting written communication.
These factors range from defining your purpose, knowing your audience, organizing your message, and selecting the appropriate channel. In this way, understanding the factors that influence effective written communication can help you convey your message accurately, build trust and achieve your desired outcomes. The following are the 6 primary factors to consider when choosing written communication :
- Purpose & Goals: Clearly define the purpose of your communication. Are you conveying information, making a request, persuading, or documenting? To determine the most appropriate form and tone for your written communication, it is helpful to have a clear understanding of your objective.
- Audience: Consider the characteristics of your audience, such as their knowledge, background, language proficiency, and communication preferences.
- Channel Selection: Select the appropriate channel for your written communication. Consider factors such as the urgency of the message, the nature of the content, and the preferences of your audience.
- Tone and Style: Choose a tone and writing style that aligns with the purpose and the intended audience. Consider the formality or informality required, and adapt your language and tone accordingly.
- Visual Presentation: Pay attention to the visual elements of your written communication. Utilize formatting techniques such as headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to improve readability and understanding.
- Proofreading and Editing: Always review and edit your written communication before sending it. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
Ways to improve written communication
There are many challenges in crafting well-written messages that accurately convey our intentions. To overcome these hurdles and enhance our written communication skills, it’s crucial to employ various strategies and best practices.
By following a few key principles mentioned below we can significantly improve our written communication and ensure that our messages are well-received and understood.
1/ Think about Your Audience: Understanding your audience’s needs, interests, and level of expertise is crucial when writing effective communication.
2/ Choose the Right Words: Selecting the appropriate words and phrases is critical in ensuring that your message is understood and well received. Use simple and direct language, avoid jargon or technical terms, and stay focused on your main message.
The following actionable framework on improving writing skills by Havard.edu can help you avoid wordy Prepositional Phrases:
- In the amount of = for
- In order to = to
- Due to the fact that = because
- In the event that = if
- During the time that = when or while
3/ Grammar and Language Skills: Enhance your grammar and language skills by familiarizing yourself with proper grammar rules , punctuation, and sentence structure. Regularly review grammar resources and practice writing to improve your command of the language.
4/ Include Active and Engaging Writing: Employ active writing techniques to make your message more engaging. Use strong verbs, avoid passive voice, and vary sentence structure to maintain reader interest.
5/ Practice Organizing Your Message: A well-organized message makes it easier for the reader to understand your points. Use headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to break down complex ideas into manageable sections.
6/ Edit and Proofread: Make sure to review and edit your writing for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Ensure that your message flows smoothly, and check for any inconsistencies.
7/ Get Feedback: To ensure that your message is clear and concise, it can be beneficial to ask a colleague or friend for feedback on your writing. This can help you identify areas for improvement.
Frequently Ask Questions
Q1) what are written communication examples .
Ans: Written communication examples include emails, memos, letters, reports, articles, blogs, social media posts, and any other form of communication that relies on written language to convey information or messages.
Q2) Why is written communication easy?
Ans: Written communication is often considered easier because It provides time for careful thought and planning, allows for revision and editing, and eliminates the pressure of immediate response.
Q3) What is effective oral and written communication?
Ans: Effective oral communication refers to the ability to convey messages, ideas, or information verbally in a clear, engaging, and persuasive manner. Effective written communication, on the other hand, involves conveying messages through written words in a clear, concise, and organized manner, considering the needs and understanding of the intended audience.
Related Reading: What are the advantage and limitation of oral communication explain with examples
Q4) What is verbal communication?
Ans: The exchange of information, ideas, or messages through spoken words is referred to as verbal communication . It involves using language, tone of voice, and vocal cues to convey meaning and interact with others.
Q5) What is non-verbal communication?
Ans: Non-verbal communication refers to the transmission of messages or information without the use of words. It includes facial expressions, gestures, body language, eye contact, and other non-verbal cues that convey meaning, emotions, and attitudes.
Q6) What is visual communication?
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- What is the purpose of a written work?
A piece of writing's purpose is to express oneself, convey information, persuade, or create a literary masterpiece. Writers utilize writing for four different reasons . They may do so for entertainment, education, inspiration, or documentation.
When writing for entertainment, the aim is to make the reader laugh, cry, or both. If you want to write comedy or drama, it is important to understand that your readers will be expecting certain events to happen in a particular order and you must not undermine this expectation. When writing for education, the aim is to inform or enlighten through the use of language. This can be done by explaining something new or different, discussing topics in depth, or presenting examples. Writers may also use writing as a form of persuasion when trying to get others to believe or act in a certain way. This may be because they want people to read something, see something, hear something, or experience something that they themselves have created.
Finally, writers use writing to create literary masterpieces. These pieces are intended to be appreciated for their beauty and creativity rather than their factual accuracy or their educational value. Writers often set out to accomplish one or more of these things when they start creating text.
Table of Contents
What is the main purpose of writing, what is the purpose of the writer in writing the text, what is the purpose of the writer, what is the purpose of text.
When someone expresses themselves, informs their reader, persuades a reader, or creates a literary work, they generally communicate their thoughts via writing. Writing is the only means by which we can share our ideas with others beyond close friends and family.
Writing is important because it allows us to express ourselves, inform others, persuade them to our point of view, and create beauty in words as well as images. Writing is also important because it is the only way we can share our thoughts with others beyond close friends and family. As humans grow older, we tend to forget what people say to us. But since writing down our thoughts saves them for later reference, we should write things down even if there's no one else around to read them.
Writing is useful because it helps us remember things that might otherwise be forgotten. For example, if you were given a piece of paper with something written on it but then lost track of who wrote it, you would probably forget about it soon after reading it. However, if you had taken a minute to make an outline of your talk before giving it speech, you would have saved yourself some embarrassment when talking about unrelated topics in your speech book !
Writing is educational because it opens up worlds upon worlds of knowledge and experience to those who read them.
The aim of an author is his or her motive for writing. An author's goal may be to entertain the reader, convince the reader, enlighten the reader, or parody a situation. An author works for one of four general purposes : 1. Entertainment - to give pleasure; 2. Instruction - to inform and educate; 3. Persuasion - to persuade readers to accept or do something; 4. Advertising - to sell products.
An author can also use the opportunity to express himself or herself. Some authors do this by showing their own views on life or society through their writings. Others write about subjects that interest them but that many people will not know much about. Still others write simply as a way to release tension or stress from their daily lives. Whatever the reason, everyone needs a hobby that allows him or her to express themselves creatively.
When an author uses language well, he or she is able to create a story that reaches inside the mind of the reader and makes him or her think or feel something. The best writers are able to make readers laugh or cry, understand concepts or feelings that they never thought possible before. In short, good writers are able to connect with their readers on an emotional level and help them learn something about themselves or the world around them.
As you can see, being an author requires more than just writing words on a page.
The goal may be explicit or implicit in the work.
An author's purpose may be to express himself or herself, to inform others, to get attention, to gain knowledge, or maybe just for fun. Whatever the case may be, the author's purpose is what drives him or her to write.
An author's purpose may also change over time as he or she writes more books . If the author finds that he or she is getting too focused on one particular topic , then it might be time to switch things up and write about something new.
As for me, I write because I love doing it and want to give back by sharing my ideas with the world.
I hope you enjoy my books as much as I enjoyed writing them!
The objective of the text is to convey the message intended by the author. Authors write for a variety of reasons. A text, for example, may convey an argument. An author may choose to write in order to correctly express facts. Or, an author may want to produce a work that provides entertainment for its readers.
All written communication contains information. This information can be descriptive or it can be instructional. Descriptive information gives an idea of what the writer thinks about their subject matter while instructional information helps others understand how to act on that subject matter. For example, if I were to write a description of my favorite color as "blue with white stripes" then you would know that I like blue colors with white objects such as shirts or plates. If I were to write a description of my favorite color as "how dogs smell" then you would know that I like using words that make other people laugh.
Texts are used for educational purposes , to share knowledge, to persuade others to our point of view, and more.
Every word has a meaning. When writing texts, it is important to understand this meaning so that your message will be received properly. Words have different levels of emphasis which can be shown through various types of punctuation marks . For example, periods at the end of sentences indicate strong emotion while em dashes show where something was omitted from the text.
About Article Author
Richard Martin is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. He's published articles on topics ranging from personal finance to relationships. He loves sharing his knowledge on these subjects because he believes that it’s important for people to have access to reliable information when they need it.
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A beginner’s guide to grant writing for nonprofits.
In many ways, the hallmarks of a strong grant proposal are the same as the hallmarks of any good piece of writing. Factors like conciseness, voice, emotional appeal, strong subject matter and more will serve just as well in a grant proposal as they would in a high school essay.
But grant writing also leaves more room for creativity than your traditional essay.
While many specifications for a grant proposal are up to the funder, a host of other factors are up to the grant writer. Key creative decisions in a proposal can make or break its success. Below are some suggestions for a stronger grant proposal.
Understand the funder
Grant applications encourage taking your reader into account. When you know which foundation or agency is reading your proposal, the content and message of a piece of writing can be tailor-made to resonate with its intended audience. Important factors such as the grantmaker’s values and priorities influence how they perceive any message. By understanding the funder before even beginning the writing process, you have the opportunity to ensure your message is the one that will stick.
To make your application resonate…
- Find funders who share your organization’s goals. This way, the mission that is shared in the grant proposal will already align with the values of the funder. To find the right grants, look into nonprofit news organizations and newsletters that often share grant opportunities.
- Reach out to the funder directly. Forming a relationship with the funder first will give you a better understanding of their values and wants.
- Write with your reader in mind. When you write your proposal, try to view your work through the lens of your prospective funder. This will save time during the initial brainstorming and revision processes.
Know what you’re asking for
When it comes to the problem statement, program objectives, methods and activities, budget, and other sections of the grant proposal, it is important for the thought process behind the proposal to be well-planned. To convince funders to support a new or existing program, you must demonstrate that it is already backed by in-depth research, planning and goal-setting initiatives.
To display a strong understanding of your organizational needs…
- Get feedback from members of the organization. Staff and volunteers who are directly involved can ensure the grant writer has an accurate understanding of the program, its needs, and its objectives.
- Demonstrate transparency. When asking for financial support, financial transparency is important to avoid misleading funders. Be clear in your budget planning resources and processes .
- Create a narrative. Narrative storytelling not only demonstrates your own understanding but also assists readers in following your line of logic.
Double-check your work
While everyone makes mistakes, a grant proposal is never a good place to put that learning process on display. Errors such as spelling mistakes, inaccurate information or grammatical errors aren’t just embarrassing — they often mean the difference between receiving funding or leaving empty-handed. A 2016 study consistently found that people who make written spelling and grammatical errors are perceived as less intelligent, friendly and trustworthy than those who did not make the same errors. In a grant proposal where traits like these are under a microscope, there could be nothing worse.
To keep your work free of errors, try…
- Getting a second pair of eyes. After spending hours looking at a piece of writing, it can be difficult to find the errors. Get a second reader to find what you missed.
- Fact-checking as you go. It will still be necessary to check again, but fact-checking on the first try will ultimately save time during the revision process.
- Using a spell-checker. Automated spell-checkers are a writer’s best friend and many are capable of more than just catching basic errors. Consider using one while you write or during your revisions.
Grant writing is a critical process for an organization, and it should take the input of many to ensure the results are compelling and deliberate. While there is no one way to write a grant proposal, and much of the selection process is down to subjective opinion, following these guidelines may be the key to winning your next grant.
Image by Lillian Finley
Find out more with our grant writing courses
Securing funding for nonprofit organizations can be extremely competitive. Nonprofits need compelling proposals to receive the grants they need to achieve their missions. Whether you are a student or working professional, you will benefit from instruction by an experienced grant writer with real-world experience as they guide you through the step-by-step processes for a state and foundation proposal. During the Grant Development: State and Foundation Proposals certification program, the knowledge specialist will use interactive exercises, lectures, and discussions to demonstrate how to research and write your specific project.
Once the State and Foundations course is complete, we invite you to take the Advanced Grant Development: Federal Proposals , designed to provide the participant with the resources, expert-guided practice, and mentoring to be able to write a competitive federal grant proposal, with a personalized proposal review by the knowledge specialist prior to submission for a federal grant, as well as packaging a professional grant submission, grants management, and grants.gov.
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Five Ways to Give Your Retirement Purpose
Doing something you love, volunteering, working part time or devoting time to some other appealing activity in retirement can have positive health benefits.
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A purpose-driven retirement is all about finding meaning and fulfillment in your post-work years. It is more than just relaxing and enjoying leisure time; instead, it involves actively seeking activities and interests that align with your values and passions.
Much of our identity in life is tied to work, but retirement gives us the opportunity to rethink our purpose and to rediscover who we are, using the extra time to focus on who and what is most important to us. Retirement , in many ways, can be a new age of discovery for us as we find new pursuits that interest us. Or we can view retirement as an opportunity to make up for lost time, doing the things we’ve long wanted to do but didn’t have time for.
Many retirees take on new roles and responsibilities, such as providing childcare for grandchildren, shopping for higher-risk neighbors and providing emotional comfort to family and friends. In return, these stepped-up roles have given retirees a greater sense of purpose and connection.
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There are even health benefits associated with having purpose : Studies show that those with a higher sense of purpose have greater cognitive functioning, better overall health, higher life satisfaction and longer lifespans.
The possibilities are endless. Let’s explore different ways to infuse purpose into your retirement and make it truly extraordinary:
- Find your passion. Finding your passion in retirement can be an exciting journey. Start by exploring activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Try new hobbies and join clubs or groups. Reflect on your past experiences and think about what made you feel most alive and fulfilled. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Remember, retirement is a time to discover and pursue what truly makes you happy.
- Volunteer or give back. This is a fulfilling way to make a positive impact in your community. One of the most meaningful aspects of life is making a difference in the lives of others. Retirement can afford us more of those opportunities if our retirement planning includes purpose as the centerpiece. Retirement is a chance to use your skills, knowledge and time to help someone. That could mean mentoring, assisting at a local charity or participating in community events. Volunteering allows you to connect with others and make a meaningful impact. The joy and fulfillment you receive from giving back is truly priceless. So go ahead — lend a helping hand and spread kindness wherever you can.
- Set goals. Setting goals helps you stay motivated and make the most out of this new chapter in your life. Start by reflecting on what you want to achieve and what brings you joy. Whether it’s learning a new skill, traveling to new places or spending more time with loved ones, set specific and achievable goals that align with your passions and interests. Break big goals down into smaller milestones to keep yourself motivated along the way. Remember, retirement is a time to pursue your dreams and create a fulfilling life on your own terms. Dream big and go after what makes you happy.
- Focus on continuous learning. Embrace the joy of learning without the pressure of grades or exams. Retirement provides the time to expand your knowledge. Learning new things is an enriching endeavor, keeping you intellectually engaged and creating new interests. You can explore various avenues of learning, such as taking classes, attending workshops or even pursuing online courses. Dive into subjects that have always intrigued you or explore new areas of interest.
- Consider a part-time job. Just because you’re retiring doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ruling out working. Along with the financial benefits of having a part-time job in retirement, other plusses include social interaction, a renewed sense of purpose and identity, physical activity and mental engagement.
By aligning your retirement with your passions and values , you can create a meaningful and purposeful life that continues to inspire and motivate you. Start with what makes you happy, be open to new possibilities and embrace the blessing of being able to live each day to the fullest.
Dan Dunkin contributed to this article.
Appearances in Kiplinger were obtained through a PR program. The columnist received assistance from a public relations firm in preparing this piece for submission to Kiplinger.com. Kiplinger was not compensated in any way.
Insurance products are offered through the insurance business, Agape Wealth, LLC. Agape Wealth, LLC is also an Investment Advisory practice that offers products and services through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM), a Registered Investment Advisor. AEWM does not offer insurance products. The insurance products offered by Agape Wealth, LLC are not subject to Investment Advisor requirements. Neither the firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional for guidance before making any purchasing decisions. 2083053 – 11/23
This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA .
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How to build your own custom ChatGPT with OpenAI's GPT builder
Now, that's small potatoes. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, recently released a way for anyone to create their own version of ChatGPT. They're calling them GPTs, and you can build one, catered to your company or personal goals, in a matter of minutes.
Here's how to build your own custom ChatGPT using OpenAI's GPT builder.
Note: Building a custom GPT is currently available only to ChatGPT Plus and Enterprise users.
Table of contents:
What are GPTs?
How to build your own custom ChatGPT
How to edit your custom chatbot, what are gpts .
GPTs are custom versions of ChatGPT created by OpenAI users. All you have to do is tell the GPT builder, in plain English, what you want to create, and the builder will take it from there.
Here's what the GPT builder suggested when I asked it to create a chatbot that shares only fun facts about otters.
You can also configure your GPT to browse the web, generate images using DALLE·3 , and run code.
While users with a ChatGPT Plus or Enterprise account can already customize ChatGPT responses with custom instructions , the GPT builder takes things a step further in two notable ways:
Create multiple custom GPTs. There are no limits to how many GPTs you can build, making it easy to toggle between chatbots and get the right kind of AI-powered support for the occasion. Custom instructions, on the other hand, limit you to one set of instructions per user.
Upload knowledge source files. Instead of copying and pasting text from every resource you want ChatGPT to consider when generating a response, you can upload knowledge files directly to your GPT builder, and it'll take care of the rest.
Note: As part of OpenAI's privacy controls , you can opt your account out of model training. This means OpenAI won't be able to access anything containing sensitive information, like your chat history and knowledge files, to train their models. But as with any generative AI, there's always a risk of data breaches , and ways for people to get access to your knowledge sources, so be careful about what you upload in the early days of this feature.
Here's the short version of how to build your own custom ChatGPT using OpenAI's GPT builder.
Go to chat.openai.com and log in.
In the sidebar, click Explore .
Click Create a GPT .
Enter your instructions in the message box of the Create page. Chat with the GPT builder until you get the results you want.
Click Configure to add advanced customizations to your AI assistant. For example, you can change your chatbot's name, further refine the instructions, upload knowledge files, and set up actions.
Click Save , and select how you want to share your custom GPT.
Click Confirm .
Now let's take a closer look at the finer details of using GPTs.
1. Log in to your OpenAI account
Before you get started, you must have a ChatGPT Plus or Enterprise account. Already have the required account type? Click Log in to start chatting.
If you're having trouble logging in, your best bet is to reload your page. For specific login issues, check out OpenAI's troubleshooting tips .
2. Create your GPT
The GPT builder will display a split screen: the Create panel is where you enter your prompts to build your chatbot; the Preview panel allows you to interact with your chatbot as you build, making it easier to determine how to refine it.
Enter your instructions in the message box of the Create page, and then press Enter or Return .
The GPT builder will then suggest a few things based on your instructions: a chatbot name, profile picture, and default conversation starters.
You can accept the initial suggestions or ask the GPT builder to modify them. If you accept the initial suggestions, you can always modify them later on.
The GPT builder will prompt you to enter more specific instructions to finetune your chatbot's behavior.
If you're not sure how you want to modify your chatbot's behavior, that's ok. My suggestion is to test your chatbot in the Preview panel—interact with it how you normally would—and use its responses to inform your modifications. For example, if your chatbot generates lengthy responses, you might tell the builder to keep the responses short. Or if the chatbot produces facts without citing its sources, you can tell it to always cite its sources.
Continue to refine your prompts until your chatbot starts to return the kinds of responses you want your final chatbot to generate.
3. Configure your GPT
Now that you've set up the basics, you can further customize your GPT with advanced settings.
If you want, you can change your chatbot's name and description as you normally would. Here's how to modify the other advanced settings:
Profile picture . Click the profile picture. You can upload your own photo or use DALLE·3 to automatically generate a new one. If you want to specify what kind of image DALLE·3 should create, click Create , and enter your instructions.
Instructions. Update the instructions generated by the GPT builder, or enter additional instructions or guidelines on how your chatbot should or shouldn't behave.
Conversation starters . Click X beside any prompt to remove it. Or enter a new prompt in an empty Conversation starters field.
Knowledge . Want your chatbot to rely on your company's style guide to draft its responses? Or maybe you want it to scan through PDFs of customer personas to give it additional context. Click Upload files , and add any relevant files for it to reference.
It's worth mentioning that my chatbot didn't consistently refer to the guide I uploaded to teach it how to write alternative text. But this could be because I need to write clearer prompts in my GPT instructions. Tinker with it until it's using your uploaded documents in the way you intended.
Capabilities . By default, your chatbot can browse the web and create AI-generated images. If you also want it to run code or analyze data, click Code Interpreter .
Actions. If you want your chatbot to retrieve external information or take actions outside of the ChatGPT platform, click Add Actions . Here you can specify how you want your chatbot to use any third-party APIs.
With AI Actions by Zapier , for example, you can connect your custom GPT with thousands of other apps. This way, you can take action in apps like Slack, Google Calendar, and Notion—all from within ChatGPT's interface. To do this, follow the instructions from Zapier .
If you want some of the same functionality of GPTs but in your other apps, Zapier's ChatGPT integration lets you write and execute code, analyze data on CSVs, and even get questions answered based on your documents—straight from the apps you use most. Learn more about how to automate ChatGPT with Zapier .
4. Save your GPT
Once you're happy with your chatbot, click Save . (If you already created your custom GPT and are publishing changes to it, click Update .)
Select who you want to share your custom chatbot with: Only me , Only people with a link , or Public . If you're on an Enterprise plan, you'll also have Anyone at [your company] as an option.
Click Confirm .
ChatGPT, along with any custom GPTs you build, will appear in the side panel of the ChatGPT home page. Click the GPT you want to use and interact with it the way you normally would.
Here's the custom chatbot I created to write alternative text descriptions for an image used in a Zapier blog article.
Of course, since the GPT builder is in beta—and because ChatGPT has a tendency to hallucinate —it's always a good idea to confirm the accuracy of your custom GPT's responses.
6. Share your GPT
If you made your custom GPT available to others, here's the easiest way to share your chatbot.
Click the GPT you want to share.
Click Copy link .
Paste and share the link as you normally would.
Despite how intuitive it feels to click the pencil icon next to your custom chatbot in the side panel of ChatGPT so that you can edit your chatbot, clicking that will only cause disappointment—I mean, let you start a new chat. Here's how to edit your custom chatbot.
Click Edit next to the GPT you want to modify.
Update your GPT settings.
Click Update , then click Confirm .
And here's how to delete a custom GPT.
In the sidebar, click Explore .
Next to the GPT you want to delete, click the More icon, which looks like an ellipsis ( ... ).
Click Delete GPT .
In the confirmation window, click Delete GPT .
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have serious business to get back to—which is absolutely not code for I'm going to continue to refine my very important Otterly Fascinating chatbot.
What is an AI agent?
How to use Zapier's ChatGPT plugin
How to automate ChatGPT
How to train ChatGPT to write like you
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Jessica Lau is a senior content specialist at Zapier. Outside of writing, she likes to snuggle her dogs, and provide unsolicited podcast and book recommendations.
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
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