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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 7. Edit for Coherence

With your document's organization and logic confirmed, you can begin editing by adding coherence devices. These devices—both verbal and visual—make a document's logic more obvious to the reader. Coherence devices help the reader skim the document, follow the logical relationships within the document, or refer back to parts of the document.

Consider the interstate highway system with all its overpasses, entrance and exit ramps, bridges, and beltways around cities: an impressive feat of engineering. Now, imagine no highway signs. The logic of the highway system remains, but without the signs we can't take advantage of the logic. Coherence devices function like those highway signs, guiding the reader and making the document more useful. A document with zero coherence devices is just one huge block paragraph.

Coherence devices are useless on a document that lacks logic. An illogical document might as well be one huge block paragraph.

Already, your document has some important verbal devices. For example, in the introduction, the purpose statement and plan of the document state the overall logic and organization of the document.

Already, your document has some important visual devices. For example, the white space signifying paragraph breaks separates ideas.

Use six techniques to ensure that your documents have coherence:

  • 7.1 Repeat key words throughout your document.

  • 7.2 Ensure that each paragraph begins with a point.

  • 7.3 Use transition words.

  • 7.4 Use vertical lists ...

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