How to Write Great Project Documents
As a Project Manager, and as a part of the Communications Plan, you often have to write lengthy documents that are critical to the success of the project. So it's important that you do a good job. To improve your writing skills, take note of these top tips.
Keep it simple
Great writers can cover whole topics in just a few short paragraphs. To do this, you need to remove any surplus content, clutter and jargon and write in simple, plain terms that everyone understands. That way, your documents will be quick and easy to read.
Make it focused
To create a powerful project document, you need to focus purely on the topic. This will make your document more persuasive and inspiring to read. So think carefully about the content that your readers expect you to cover. Then list your topics and stick to them. Never write off the topic. If you need to go off topic, then put the content in an Appendix at the end and refer to it. The same applies to a lot of detail in which only some readers will be interested.
Have a clear structure
You also need to think carefully about your Table of Contents. Your readers need to be able to scan the Table of Contents to get a quick feel for what your document contains. The Table of Contents should be simple and easy to understand. In your document, you should also:
- Use tables to make it easier to read
- Insert diagrams to explain difficult topics
- Use short paragraphs to accentuate points
- Make use of bolding, italics and underlining
- Use bullets, as they are easy to scan with the eye.
Always tell a story
Everyone loves a good story. So write each document as though it was the best story in town. Start with the beginning by introducing your topic, followed by telling them what they are going to learn by reading your document. Then write the main body of the document and end with a summary and/or a conclusion.
Make it flow
Write your document so that each of the sections flows from one topic to the next. This way, the user never has to pause to work out where they are. So before you finish each section, introduce the next section. This helps keep the reader motivated.
Just the right amount
Give your readers "just the right amount of information" needed to make a decision or take an action. Keep it short, but informative and helpful. Note the tip about putting stuff in an Appendix mentioned earlier.
Great writers are passionate about what they are writing. If you are positive and inspirational about your documents, then your reader will catch the excitement and your document will not only be enjoyable to read, but achieve their desired effect.
For really succinct and powerful writing, follow the Wideman 3-4-5 Principle,
described in Issacon #1453
at page 7.