CHAPTER 9Form Follows Function Structuring Your Documents

Now that we’ve carefully considered every word in your document and the structure of each sentence, it’s time to look at the document as a whole. Imagine you just jumped into your car in the driveway to take your child on a playdate. You look over your shoulder to back onto the street and realize you have no idea where the other kid lives. “Do I turn left or right?” If you don’t know where you are going, you don’t know how to begin. If you knew where you were going and had a map for getting there, you would already be on your way. Many people freeze when they stare at a blank computer screen because they simply don’t know how to begin, and they don’t know where to begin because they don’t know where they want to go. To get off to a smooth start, first, decide where you want to go, in other words, your purpose for writing. Then pick your road map, the format you can follow to get there.

There are certainly many formats for structuring a document. The formats that work better are those that are focused on the needs of the reader. In this chapter we’ll provide two easy formats to consider.

Writing is about conveying to someone else your experience with a situation. Since we all experience a situation or event sequentially, our natural inclination is to share the information in the order in which we experienced it. This approach is called the “timeline” method of writing, where the reader conveys what she learned or steps ...

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