Can you convince people?
Persuasive writing has a clear message and purpose, and is easy to read. Persuasive writing will get your message to your audience more effectively, whatever you write — from funding proposals and research reports, to training manuals and office memos.
Hook people! The first things people read — the title and the first sentence — need to be relevant and interesting.
Get to the point. A strong opening paragraph clearly tells the reader what you will say and why you are saying it. Don’t force your readers to guess your main points.
Know your audience. Write to their level of interest and knowledge. If your audience has different knowledge levels, write for the people who know the least.
Plan your writing. Choose your key messages and stick to them. Beautiful writing is pointless if nobody knows what you are trying to say.
Understand what you need to write. If you are writing a funding proposal, for example, read the guidelines carefully and don’t exceed word limits.
Reminders for clear, concise, and convincing writing
More tips for persuasive writing
Avoid jargons and technical language. Don’t overuse initials and acronyms.
Don’t make unrealistic claims or statements. You will lose credibility as well as the reader’s confidence.
Revise, rewrite, edit and proof-read your work! Ask somebody else — ideally somebody from your target audience — to check it. Is the writing easy to understand? Is the message clear?
Use correct grammar and spelling. We all make mistakes, but good spelling and grammar helps the writer seem professional and knowledgeable. Use your word processor spell-check, but be careful: words can have “moor” than “won” spelling, and the spell-check isn’t always “write”.
Note: The suggestions on this fact sheet are guidelines, not rules. There may be times when you need to break them. Read what you have written and ask yourself, “Is this the best way to get my message to the reader?”
Strunk Jr, W and White EB (2000). The Elements of Style, 4th Edition. Allyn & Bacon, USA. Writer’s Handbook (2004). www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/index.html. University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
Lindsay, JM (1999). www.uiowa.edu/~c030162/Common/Writing_Tips/tips.html. University of Iowa, USA.
Prepared with input from AP Barclay