Good writing, from tweet to tome, contains seven components.
The purpose of your document should be obvious from the first sentence or two. Whether good news or bad, don’t make a mystery of your reason for writing. Give your recipients a big-picture view.
All the information following the big-picture description needs to be linked in ways that increase readers’ comprehension.
There are two ways to do this: write from most-to-least or from least-to-most. “Most” prioritizes some aspect (most easily understood, most quickly implemented, most likely profitable, most seriously flawed) over others. If you begin with the “least,” your points move from simple (least expensive, least invasive, least dangerous) to complex. Whichever path you take, be sure to transition between points.
Voice is a component of your personality and tone of voice affects how a reader understands your words. Be formal, be chatty, be argumentative, be sensible, use whatever your topic deserves, but stay appropriate to your reason for writing.
Tone of voice pairs best with clear word choice. When you can provide specifics, your call center is not “too busy,” it’s “handling 23% more calls per person per day.”
When you don’t yet have data, you can still be clear. Write about a “good” sales meeting and you leave a reader wondering how good is “good.” Say you shook hands with a “smiling purchasing agent and her nodding boss” and your readers decide for themselves it was a good meeting.
In writings longer than a few paragraphs, use sentences of differing lengths. Too many long sentences back to back creates a monotone and readers get bored. A changed word count changes the reading rhythm. Try it and see.
Fluency, like tone of voice, is affected by word choice. If (when) detailed explanations create super-sized sentences, you’ll need to edit.
Companies often have a style guide to detail both general and specific rules company-produced documents must obey. If your company does not use a style guide, make sure documents get proofread for grammar and punctuation, at a minimum. If your spelling is atrocious, use a spellchecker. If you want as-you-type help, Grammarly addresses all three problems and comes in a free version.
Please note: Emails regarding company business (as opposed to those confirming meeting times or dates for blood drives) are documents. Treat them as though they could be forwarded up the chain of command. Would you want upper management judging your emails without you there to clarify any confusions?
Messy formatting reads as messy thinking. Too many font types, bolds, italics, and underlinings don’t look creative so much as they look jittery. Typically, a document has two fonts, one for headings and one for the text. If something in your paragraphs needs bold, underlining or italics, use it. Not all three, and certainly not inside the same sentence.