Know Your Subject

Posted on: February 9, 2009

If you want to write good business or technical documents, where do you start?

Creating good documents demands that you begin by understanding the subject matter on two levels — the general and the specific.

The “general level” means that one of the initial, critical steps in the writing process is to develop a conceptual design of the subject you are going to deal with in the document. Think of “design,” as regards the writing process, as the logical organization, or structure, or framework. The purpose of the design is to guide the work that will be done at the “specific level,” which is the gathering of detailed audience-oriented information.

Only after you understand the subject matter at both levels do you get down to the actual writing.

Without a competent grasp of the subject, you cannot successfully think your way through the rest of the writing process and produce material that meets the requirements of the project.

As you begin your work, different designs will come to mind. Your subject-matter knowledge at this initial stage will help give your ideas shape. It will help you choose an approach that will guide all subsequent work on the document.

To succeed, first know your subject!


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