Twc Chapter 3 Organizing And Drafting


When writing a technical document, it is important to put information into patterns that readers would recognize. These patterns fall into three, common parts that nearly every document uses, which are:

  • Introduction: What you are writing and why.
  • Body: Content readers need to take actions or make decisions.
  • Conclusion: Restates main point(s), finishes the argument.

Often times bad writers will give details without saying any subject or purpose, or end without summing up their main points. Documents that don’t seem to have a point usually lack an introduction or conclusion.

Different patterns of organization are known as genres, and although they are intended to achieve different purposes, they usually have the same kind of introduction and conclusion, but differ mainly in their organization. Genres, however, are simply patterns that one uses to build a basis for their argument or ideas before organizing and drafting your own.

Outlining is a good way to organize one’s ideas into a specific genre, as well as give a writer a good sense as to how to approach each section of the document. Tools that can help one in the outlining process can include things such as Outline View, which allows one to organize their ideas under separate sub sections and headings, as well as move portions of information around. This is especially helpful in group projects while brainstorming, allowing co-workers to transition from raw information into structured and organized points.

When organizing and drafting the introduction, a key thing to do is put oneself into the reader’s place, thinking about what kind of information you would like to see if you were the one reading the document. Such questions that may arise are:

  • What is the document about?
  • Why did someone write this for me?
  • What is the main point?
  • Is this information important?
  • How is this document organized?

A good introduction would answer these questions, allowing readers to understand fully what the document is about before they begin to read the body. There are also six opening moves that are vital in order to make a powerful introduction, which are:

  • Define your subject
  • State your purpose
  • State your main point
  • Stress the importance of the subject
  • Provide background information
  • Forecast the content

The first step, which is to state one’s subject, is important in order to let the reader know what they are reading and what the rest of the document is going to be about. The second step, state your purpose, tells the readers what the writer is trying to achieve and what the document will do to the reader. Stating your main point gives the reader a view of the key point that you want them to take away after reading the whole document. Stressing the importance of the subject is also important in order to grab the reader’s attention if they would otherwise not care by giving them a reason why they should. Providing background information gives readers essentials that they may already know, being either for historical reference or in order to develop a connection with the reader. Finally, forecasting the content gives a brief preview as to how the document will be laid out by giving a few of the major topics the document will go over.

The general order of these six moves doesn’t matter, however, it is important that all the extra information is removed as such information will only make it more difficult for readers to locate the subject, purpose, and main point of the document.

The body of the document contains all of the content or information that must be conveyed to the readers. This information is essential to allowing readers to either understand the subject and main point or be able to perform a certain action. Several steps involved in organizing and drafting the body include carving the body into sections. These sections are like mini documents, requiring their own beginning, middle, and end, and usually consist of an:

  • Opening
  • Body
  • Closing

An opening is usually a sentence long and basically outlines the purpose of the section, including a claim that will be supported throughout the rest of the section. The body of a section contains most of the support for the claim made in an opening, and can span anywhere from one paragraph to many paragraphs. The closing, which is optional, can wrap up a particularly complex or large section by briefly restating the claim that was made in the opening of the section, as well as lead into the beginning of the next section.Thus, sections should be designed so that they can stand-alone in the document while still being able to fully support a particular point.

One can sort their ideas in a section with a pattern of arrangement — depending on the type of ideas in that section. A pattern of arrangement can organize a set of ideas in a logical way. Some patterns of arrangement include:

  • Cause and effect
  • Comparison and contrast
  • Better and worse
  • Costs and Benefits
  • If…then
  • Either…or
  • Chronological order
  • Problem/needs/solution

By giving a cause and effect, one can show how some actions can result in different effects. Comparing and contrasting is also another effective way of sorting a section; anything can be compared and made understood by the reader. Giving advantages and disadvantages of actions is an easy way of persuading one’s reader to perform a certain action, as well as reasoning with them using “if…then” statements. Giving choices through “Either…or” statements can also motivate readers on acting on a decision. Putting everything in a logical order — including chronological order — and giving examples can help support your claim and push one’s readers into action.

Concluding a piece is essential for giving the readers a summary of one’s document. The conclusion has be precise in reiterating what the reader wants to know: the main point, the importance of the main point, and the actions that the reader must take. A transition from the body to the conclusion can help one’s readers pay more attention to the main point that you are making. It is also important that one reminds the reader of the importance of this document and the future in a positive light. Lastly, providing contact info is a friendly and inviting action; it leaves a good impression on the reader.

In North America, being concise and straightforward throughout the document is “status quo” when dealing with technical documents and communication. In other countries — such as Asia and the Middle East — many people may not appreciate this style of providing information — some people may even find it offensive. North American culture is “low-context”, which means that our culture is not highly dependent on personal details and information; this is contrary to “high-context” cultures in Asia and the Middle East. These types of cultures appreciate the focus of a relationship between parties, rather than the focus of the matter at hand. By organizing one’s document according to the culture that one is addressing, one can meet the needs of the readers and successfully reach out to them.


“When writing a technical document, you will need to organize the information you’ve collected into patterns that are familiar to your readers.” (p. 49)

“Keep in mind that genres are patterns, not formulas.” (p. 52)

“Overall, an outline should be as flexible as the document itself.” (p. 54)

“By having its own beginning, middle, and end, a well-written section feels like a miniature document that makes a specific point.” (p. 59)

“So, as you are organizing and drafting each section, decide which pattern of arrangement best first your needs.” (p. 61)

“…show how effects are the results of specific causes.” (p. 61)

“An effective conclusion round out the discussion by bringing readers back to the subject, purpose, and main point of your document.” (p.70)

"This ‘indirect approach’ signals sensitivity to the importance of the message and the refinement of the writer.” (p. 72)


Every document must follow a particular order of an introduction, body, and conclusion, in order to make information and ideas clear to the reader. By using genres, writers can organize their ideas and information into structures that can eventually evolve into the final document. A good way of testing out various genres and points is to outline information into different sections. This allows one to experiment with different ideas and eventually develop a solid structure that can be used in the final draft of the document.

By making all of the six moves in an introduction, a writer can let the reader know what they are reading, why they should read it, and what they can expect before reading the rest of the document. This is especially useful in larger documents that can easily dissuade many from reading if they don’t know what is in it, making readers less likely to ignore the rest of the document.

Furthermore, by treating each section of the body as its own document and giving it an introduction, body, and conclusion, the reader can clearly read and understand each and every point without being confused as to where one point ends and another begins.

We follow certain patterns of arrangement in our papers, whether we are conscious of it or not. Organizing ideas in a reasonable way is important for getting readers to understand your main point in a logical way.

According to this chapter, a conclusion requires five moves for the main point to be successfully exhibited. For technical documents, these five moves are useful for planning the conclusion because they reduce its length and keep everything in a positive light — aspects which an effective conclusion needs.

The strategies that the chapters offer for cross-cultural documents are valid and clear. They emphasize the importance of using an indirect approach to writing to certain high-context cultures — cultures which need personal information and relationship building.

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