Writing simple texts suitable for daily communication
Learning outcome: After completing this module the student should be able to write simple texts appropriate for daily communications.
How to write so others understand
Written texts are divided into different types. A written text can be a romantic novel, an article in a magazine, a political brochure, a personal letter, a manual for a technical device, an email from your manager or a facebook post. Among many, many other things.
When you determine what kind of text you are about to write ask yourself these questions, first:
- WHY am I writing this text
- WHO is my reader?
2.1 Main aspects
What’s the purpose of the text?
Why are you writing a text in the first place? For work there are typically two reasons:
1)Informational texts. You want somebody to know something, usually that something has happened. Typical informational texts are: report from an incident, entry in a work log or journal, minutes from a meeting or writing a note from a phone conversation.
2)Instructional texts: You want somebody to do something. Typical instructional texts are: a shopping list, an order for supply, an email to your manager asking for a day off or filling in an online form.
Who is the intended reader?
You are always writing for somebody to read, and you always want to keep that intended reader in mind, because you want to adjust your tone and your language.
Internal reader: your manager, a co-worker, somebody who works in another department in the same company, your union representative
External readers can roughly be divided int two groups.
1)The ones you serve, depending on your job that could be a customer, a client, a patient, a patient’s loved one, a passenger or a pupil
2)The ones who serves you, like a company you order goods or services from
Sometimes your reader is yourself. Like in the journal we suggested that you keep writing in. That gives you a lot of freedom to decide what your text should look like.
The purpose of the text and your intended reader sets the tone and the language for your text.
There is also a difference between writing a free text or filling in a form or a template. Filling in a form is just as much reading as writing. You don’t have to think about who your reader is, or why you are writing. That is already decided in the form. And you don’t have to think about being polite or structuring your text. That is also in the form. But you need to be accurate.
Online writing is often informal, often more public than offline, and often more graphic.
The use on emojis is a bit of a mine field. In some cultures and by some people it is considered childish and unprofessional, others rely on it as an important part of being friendly. If the person you are communicating with use emojis, it could be wise to reciprocate with a smiling face. If not it’s better you don’t.
Source of image: Tero Vesalainen on pixabay.com
Social media, like facebook, snapchat, twitter and Instagram are usually for private posting. But be aware. Internet is like an open library, so you would not want to post something you don’t want your manager or co-workers to see. Your private social media profile will reflect on your professional role.
2.3 Practice writing emails
Important: If you are not replying to an email, and especially if you haven’t written to this person before, the subject field needs to be informative. If too generic, you even risk that the reader won’t open the email.
2.4 Writing tips
1) Tell the text to yourself. Talk yourself through the text you plan to write. Talk loudly out in the air. Talk about what you want to write, why and to whom. Most of us want to be alone when we do this, but it can be very useful to talk to somebody else.
2) Write or draw some keywords. What are the most important things you need to tell (or ask) in your text? Write them down. Now you can look at the order you want to write in. You can even make a drawing of your planned text.
Have you started your journal yet? it is a good place for practising these techniques.