Context and Tone
By Gord Roberts, Ottawa Documentation Team
The powerful and robust tools included in the new WordPerfect® Office X4 can help you become a more effective writer and communicator, but you still need to follow some writing fundamentals in order to ensure your message gets across as intended.
As any good writer knows, the importance of knowing the audience and goal for your document cannot be overstated. Equally important is knowing the context of your document:
- What kind of document is it? For example, is it a report, a presentation, or an e-mail?
- How will the document be presented to the members of your audience? For example, will they read it on their own, or will it be presented to them?
- How will the document be distributed? For example, will it be printed, or will it be sent out electronically?
Adapting your document to its context helps ensure that your message reaches your audience as intended. For example, a report and a presentation on the same topic require different kinds of content. In a report, you can include background information in anticipation of readers' questions and concerns; in a presentation, your content can be "short and sweet" because you can address questions and concerns as they arise.
Understanding the audience, goal, and context for your document helps shape the tone, another key to the success of your document. The tone, or voice, of your document helps convey your message appropriately. Tone can be casual or professional, informal or formal, emotional or factual, and so on; however, for best results, the tone you choose must suit the audience, goal, and context of your document.
Putting it Together
Here's a specific example: For WordPerfect Office and many other applications, the Corel documentation team prepares guides that explain how to install the software to a network. Originally, we targeted these guides to people who were formally trained as network administrators, and we used a lot of high-level jargon (that is, highly specialized terminology with many acronyms) that would be familiar to this audience. However, as time went on, we learned that this approach was not suitable for users with little-to-no experience in network administration. As a result, we rewrote the guides in a more accessible tone, providing a gentle introduction to the terminology for those who need it.
Using an appropriate tone makes a document more credible to your audience, and a credible document can help you achieve your communication goals.
Put these tips to work today! Try out the new WordPerfect Office X4.