How to Handle a Writing Assignment at Work

Writing may not be your job, but many jobs require you to write. Don't panic. It's not as hard as it seems to write something for work. See it as an opportunity to showcase your skills and expertise, or simply to get your point across.

Steps

  1. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 1
    1
    Understand the assignment. Ask questions until you are sure you understand what is expected of you. Ask your boss, your colleagues, or whoever sent you the assignment.
  2. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 2
    2
    Identify the purpose of the writing. Will it inform, record, or persuade? Is it to size up a problem and chart a course, or is it a review of work already done?
  3. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 3
    3
    Decide what kind of document to write. How formal should it be? Can it be a quick email? Is it a large report or manual? Is it somewhere in between?
    • Don't worry about length. They really did stop counting words and pages back in school. Focus on communicating what you need to say.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 3Bullet1
  4. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 4
    4
    Identify your audience. Are you writing for colleagues? Managers? Customers? Suppliers?
    • Don't forget, especially with email, that your distribution may quickly expand beyond the original recipients.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 4Bullet1
  5. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 5
    5
    Gather the information that you will need to include in your document.
    • Talk to coworkers, managers, and anybody else that you need to consult, whether in a formal meeting or not. If it's appropriate to involve writers on the team, such as a technical publications group, inform them.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 5Bullet1
    • Include your own expertise. If you were asked to write about it, it is probably because you know more about it than others.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 5Bullet2
    • Do research if the topic requires it.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 5Bullet3
  6. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 6
    6
    Make notes as you go. These can be in any form that you want. Don't worry if what you write now isn't neat. Just get it written down and recorded.
    • Put the notes in order, if it will help you to write, but write the notes before you organize them.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 6Bullet1
  7. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 7
    7
    Write a rough draft. At this stage, focus on writing something, whether it is organized or not. If you find yourself missing information, mark it clearly and move on.
  8. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 8
    8
    Rewrite and edit your work.
    • For a smaller project, this may mean just spell-checking and a quick rereading before hitting send.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 8Bullet1
    • Fill in missing information.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 8Bullet2
    • Organize your document. Add clear headings to divide a longer document into smaller sections.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 8Bullet3
    • Ask others to review your work, as appropriate.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 8Bullet4
  9. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 9
    9
    Put a clear, succinct summary right at the top. Unlike mystery novels, you do not want your audience in suspense. Like an abstract in an academic paper, the executive summary should include the major points, recommendations, and conclusions.
    • Keep your audience in mind as you write the summary. Some busy readers may read only the summary. Others may use the summary to decide whether to read more.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 9Bullet1
    • Scale the summary to the document. For an email, a clear, specific subject line will suffice. For a lengthy report or manual, a few introductory paragraphs might serve as the summary.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 9Bullet2
    • Make sure your document and summary agree and that the document supports your conclusions.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 9Bullet3
  10. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 10
    10
    Get input. Ask colleagues to review your work.
    • If this was a small assignment for a small audience, send it in and get feedback for next time.
      Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 10Bullet1
  11. Image titled Handle a Writing Assignment at Work Step 11
    11
    Make final corrections, submit or publish the document, and take pride in a job well done.

Tips

  • Ask if you can see a sample document or template. It can save you from reinventing the wheel and can often clue you in to appropriate content. It will also help your document be consistent with other publications. If there is no sample, search online to find a similar document to use as a model. Don't forget to try the document templates in your word processor for many routine business communications.
  • Choose the appropriate parts of this writing process for your writing assignment and schedule the time you need.
  • Consider hiring professional help. If this writing will go in a sales brochure, on the website, or in the annual shareholder report, hire or enlist a good writer. The quality of this writing reflects on the entire business, and forms the foundation of your customers' or investors' impressions.
    • Be prepared to support outside help. You must still provide the information that will go into the writing.
  • Appearance counts. A tidy layout won't make up for poor content, but a poor layout will bring down good content. Learn enough about formatting a document to make the appearance consistent and neat.
  • Search wikiHow for a guidance specific to your task, or request an article. Writing a press release differs from writing a sales brochure.
  • If you have the time, step away between writing the rough draft and revising it, if only for a lunch hour. It will allow you to revise with fresh eyes.
  • As you revise the document, keep your tone formal and businesslike.

Warnings

  • Don't get hung up on editing. It is possible to stare at a document forever, fiddling with details. Do proofread, but when you're done, commit and send or publish it.
  • Be aware of sensitive information and control where it goes.
  • Know your company's policy about using its logo on documents. If you use the logo, make sure you use a clean image and preserve its appearance.
  • Don't panic. Of course there is pressure to write well, but don't let that scare you out of starting. Remember that your writing can also showcase your talents and expertise.

Article Info

Categories: Better Writing | Job Strategies