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Can Do Writing™: The Proven Ten-Step System for Fast and Effective Business Writing by Judith Graham, Daniel Graham

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Chapter 4. Organize Your Points in a Sentence Outline

You finished your analysis of purpose and audience. You have a purpose statement and facts. Now use three techniques to select and organize your points in a sentence outline:

  • 4.1 Write your points using short words in short sentences.

  • 4.2 Evaluate points to eliminate irrelevancies and redundancies.

  • 4.3 Order the points.

A point is an opinion or a general truth—not a mere fact. The point organizes the facts, transforming mere facts into useful information. A paragraph is a point supported by facts.

Many writers resist making a point. They are shy about stating an opinion or a general truth; they hope the reader can infer the opinion or general truth from the facts. The reader can't. Some writers think their facts are compelling. Facts are never compelling. Smart people draw the wrong conclusions from the right facts every day.

There fore, you must make a point to tell your audience what the facts mean. Management guru Peter Drucker poses the question, Do effective managers consider all the facts before making a decision? The answer is No. Effective managers consider all the opinions of their staff experts before making a decision. Do effective staff experts consider all the facts before offering an opinion to the manager? The answer is Yes. However, the staff expert needs to make a point to tell the manager—or any audience—what the facts mean.[1]

Unfortunately, most writers do not outline. Most writers learn outlining in high school, ...

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