Resources – Shirley’s Articles For Reprint
How To Write Policies And Procedures That Work
Article written by Marianna Pascal
It’s easy to write policies and procedures well!
That is the first thing I tell participants in our Policy Writing in Plain English workshop. By the end of the day, they believe me! The key is to help your reader understand information quickly.
If you want to write policies and procedures that work, there are 7 ways you can start right now:
1. Headlines, not Headings
Headlines (not headings!) also help your reader understand the content easily.
Look at these before and after sections from policies. Notice how differently you read the paragraph when you start with a headline.
2. Why Before What
When you’re describing anything new, begin with its purpose. And state that purpose as plainly as possible.
Here is a policy introducing a new tool called the ABC Checklist. Notice in the after example how easy it is to understand what the checklist does when we know why it exists.
3. Predictable Patterns
When you organise your writing into patterns, you will help your readers see information.
4. Columns Clarify
In a procedure, columns help readers separate the ‘doer’ of the action, the order of actions, and action itself. Using columns will drastically increase the chance of the procedure being followed properly.
5. Bullets For Two
We tend to think of bullet points for lists. But bullets make even two items crystal clear.
6. Kill ‘Shall’
Please promise you will never again write ‘shall’ in your policies. Apart from being outdated, ‘shall’ has 5 different meanings! ‘Shall’ can mean you ‘must’, ‘always’, ‘will’ ‘have the right to’ or ‘have permission to’. Using ‘shall’ makes your message vague.
7. We and You
Too many policies are written without ever talking about people. It is people who read the policies, people who write them, and people who have made the policy decisions. So, use words like ‘we’ and ‘you’ where possible.
When you follow these simple guidelines in all your policies, you will help your readers find information quickly, read easily and understand exactly what they must do.
Would you like your whole team writing crystal clear policies and procedures?
Let’s work together to make all our written documents reader-friendly!
This article was written by Marianna Pascal and reproduced here with her permission.
All articles are copyright © Shirley Taylor. All rights reserved. This information may not be distributed, sold, publicly presented, or used in any other manner, except as described here.
Permission to reprint all or part of any article in your magazine, e-zine, website, blog or organisation newsletter is granted, as long as:
- The entire credit line below is included*.
- The website link to shirleytaylor.com is clickable (live)**.
- You send a copy, PDF, or link of the work in which the article is used when published.
This credit line must be reprinted in its entirety to use any articles by Shirley Taylor:
* Credit line:
© Shirley Taylor.
Shirley is a high-energy, high-content speaker who is passionate about motivating individuals to make a real difference in our automated world. With inspiring stories and a fun style, she engages audiences quickly, and encourages them to embrace high-touch as well as high-tech so they can connect with heart.
Shirley has been a trusted member of the professional speaking and training community for many years, and has received several awards for her services in leadership. She served as Asia Professional Speakers Singapore President 2011-12 and as Global Speakers Federation President 2017-18. She has spoken in almost 20 countries all over the world.
Author of 12 books published by international publishers, Shirley has established herself as a leading authority in workplace communication, business writing, and email. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition has sold over half a million copies worldwide and been translated into 17 languages.
If you would like Shirley to speak at your next event, visit shirleytaylor.com.
** The website link to shirleytaylor.com must be clickable to receive permission to reprint the article.