What makes writing effective? Ask that question, and you’ll receive a hundred different answers—clear sentences, correct spelling, good details, a professional voice, no dropped words, nice-looking letterhead, no logical errors, a great anecdote. . . . Effective writing is subjective, right?
Wrong. The hundreds of things that make writing effective are summed up in the seven traits. Here is the trait-based profile of writing that works:
The writing focuses on an important subject, has a clear main point, provides effective details, and achieves its purpose.
The writing has a strong opening, middle, and closing and orders information well.
The tone is appropriate for the subject, purpose, and audience, reflecting well on the writer and connecting with the reader.
The writing uses precise nouns and verbs, avoids slang expressions and colloquialisms, and defines technical terms as needed.
The sentences read smoothly, varying in length, pattern, type, and beginnings.
Punctuation, capitalization, spelling, usage, and grammar are correct.
Typography, color, white space, lists, visuals, and other elements convey the message clearly and suit the subject and purpose.
How Can I Use the Traits?
The traits can guide writing projects, diagnose and solve problems in writing, and give you a platform from which to discuss writing (reports, bids, fliers, and so on) with your coworkers. Understanding and employing the seven traits will give you an advantage in all of your business communications.