WRITING SKILLS NOTES

3.1. ESSAY WRITING
Essay writing is an attempt to write a given topic. Essay is derived from French word essays that means to attempt. It means composition. In any topic or subject composition is made up of paragraphs which are logically arranged and connected with one another. Each paragraph discusses a particular subject relating to the topic i.e. leads to succeeding.

How to write good essay

1. Define the scope of essay e.g. if you are about the problems of industrialization the scope will be different from if you are to write about evils industrialization. In the 1st topic i.e. the problems of industrialization you will discuss about the availability
of raw materials, energy, labour and market conditions etc. In the 2nd topic you can write about effects or industrialization e.g. pollution of atmosphere, exploitation of labour, concentration of wealth in few hands etc.
2. Jot down the ideas
This means you put down relevant ideas in a sketch form.
3. Prepare the outlines
You arrange the ideas you have generated in a logical sequence and you prepare your outline e.g. if you are writing about an event you should write using chorological sequences.
4. Think of an attractive beginning
Introduction should be fresh, original and arresting. It should be strictly relevant to the subject.
5. Conclusions have to be stated clearly and firmly.
6. Develop different points in different paragraphs.
7. Revise your essay
8. Avoid being irrelevant.
9. Use simple language
10. Develop habit of reading newspapers and periodicals.

3.2. CORRESPONDENCE
3.2.1. BUSINESS LETTERS
It is used for communication to persons outside the organization

FUNCTIONS OF A BUSINESS LETTER.

  1. To provide a convenient and inexpensive means of communication without personal contact.
  2. To seek or give information
  3. To furnish evidence of transactions entered into
  4. To provide a record for future reference.
  5. To provide a written record and reference

CLASSIFICATION OF BUSINESS LETTERS
Business letters can be classified into:

  1. Letters of inquiry
  2. Letters answering a request
  3. Claim and adjustment letters
  4. Credit letters
  5. Collection letters
  6. Sales letters and
  7. Employment letters

ESSENTIALS OF EFFECTIVE BUSINESS LETTER
1. Promptness
Reply to the letter the day it is received. If time is needed acknowledge the letter and indicate when a reply will be sent.
2. Knowledge of the subject
This includes knowledge of past correspondence.
3. Accuracy, completeness and clarity:
Verify facts before you write them.
4. Courtesy
We should seek favours politely and express our gratitude for the favours done to us.
5. Appropriateness
Vary the tone of your letter according to the occasion and the psychology of the reader.
6. Tact
You should endeavour to retain the goodwill of someone even though his request has been turned down.
7. Persuasion
This means winning people to your point of view by making positive suggestions and explaining that what you say is to
their advantage.
8. Conciseness
Eliminate all irrelevant details from your letter.
9. Adopt the you approach
Avoid the ‘I’ and ‘We’ in your letter.
10. Adopt the positive and pleasant Approach.
Avoid No’s and Sorry’s in your letter they are unpleasant and unwelcome No for example can be written as ‘
another time’ or ‘try later’ sorry may be presented as’ I will try’.
11. Use familiar language
Avoid jargon, bombastic and colloquial or words when writing a business letter.

PARTS OF A BUSINESS LETTER
1. THE HEADING
The heading is the letter head of the letter. It contains; the name of the organization, the logo, the address, the telephone number, fax number, e-mail, and the physical location of the business.
2. THE DATE
The date comes below the heading. The date should have a format of either ‘30th October 2007’ or ‘October 30th 2007’ the date should be underlined. For fully blocked letters the date comes at the left hand side. In case of semi blocked letter ,it will appear
at the right hand side of the paper.
3. REFERENCE
It comes below the date for fully blocked letters, or it is written on the same line as the date for semi blocked letters but starting at the left margin. The reference is used to identify the department or section where the communication originates.
Examples are:
-Reference No………
-Ref. No……

4. INSIDE ADDRESS
It contains the name and address of the person or firm to which the letter is written. You can add ‘For the attention of ’ when you want the letter to be directed to an
identified officer in the organization.
5. THE SALUTATION
This is the greeting part of the letter. For formal letters you can address dear Sir, for and Dear Madam for ladies. For semi-personal letter you can write Dear Mr. Otieno or Dear Moraa. For personal letters you can write My dear Juliet.
6. THE BODY OF THE LETTER.
It is divided into

  • Subject or Reference
    Subject is used when writing a letter for the first time while reference is used when replying a letter.
  • Opening paragraph
    The letter should open with the expression of pleasure, gratitude or Acknowledgement. Remember to use the ‘you approach’ in your opening paragraph.
  • Main paragraph
    This paragraph contains the subject matter of the letter. Make sure all issues are detailed in this paragraph.
  • Closing Paragraph
    The ending should aim at motivating the reader to take action. You can close with an offer or a request.

7. COMPLIMENTARY CLOSE
This is also referred to as subscription. It is a polite way of ending a letter. Letters having salutations ‘Dear Sir, Madam, Sirs, and Mesdames’ should end with ‘yours faithfully’. Less formal letters can end ‘yours truly’ or ‘yours very truly’.
Letters having Dear Mr. John should end ‘yours sincerely’. Letters to superiors can end ‘yours respectfully’
8. SIGNATURE
The writer should sign by putting his/her name down and the position in the organization.
9. ENCLOSURE
This is used when there are other documents enclosed in the same letter for the receiver.
10. CARBON COPIES
This is used to show who else has been sent the same letter. For example.
Cc District Officer1
Town clerk
Town engineer

3.2.2. MEMO
Memo is short form for memorandum
It is used for internal communication

3.3. REPORTS
A report is an orderly presentation of facts about specific business activities or programs. Reports can also be defined as a communication from someone who has some information to someone who wants to use that information.

Report – It’s a document in which a given problem is examined for the purpose of conveying information, reporting, finding, putting forward, ideas and sometimes making recommendations.

Business report
It’s a document which investigates a specific subject according to a prescribed format and for a clearly defined leadership. A report can be oral or written. However, a written report is preffered to an oral report for a number of reasons.
1. Oral report can be denied at any time but written report is a permanent report and it can not be denied.
2. An oral report tends to be vague. It may contain some irrelevant facts and some important points may be overlooked.
3. A written report tends to be accurate and precise.
4. A written report can be referred to again and again.
Report can be either informative, interpreting.

Informative reports
An Informative report is one that represents facts pertinent to a given situation or issue. Interpretive reports They are reports that analyze the facts, draw conclusion and make recommendations .e.g. An informative report on sale of tables, draws will simply record the number of tables sold during a given month/months. An interpretive report on sale of tables, we analyze why and to what extent the sale of tables go up during summer month i.e. May-July and it will make recommendation on the schedule of production.

Importance of reports
Report is basic management tool that is used for decision making

Characteristics of reports
It should be precise, clear and answering the questions that is being investigated.
A report should have accurate facts because they are used for decision making inaccurate facts may lead to disastrous decisions.
A report must be relevant i.e. should contain only relevant facts. Irrelevant facts should not appear in the report.
A good report should be leader oriented.

Objectivity of recommendation. If you are to write conclusions make sure they are impartial and they are objective. They should come as logical conclusions to investigation and analysis.
Reports should be written in simple and ambiguous language.
Report should be clear and brief.
A report should be grammatically correct.
According to stephene a report should be characterized by clear expression and neat display. It should be nature of agreement well reasoned and arranged, accurate in all details and leading logically to the conclusions and recommendations set forth.

Skills/Qualities of Report Writing
Ability to record facts clearly and objectively
Ability to interpret facts and attributes them to findings
Ability to formulate and present opinions based on the facts but clearly separated from them.

Types of business reports
1. Based on legal formulations reports are of two kinds

  • Formal Reports
    They are prepared in prescribed form and presented accordingly to an established procedure to prescribed authority.
  • Informal Reports
    Usually inform of person to person communication and usually submitted in form of letter or memo.

Formal reports can be divided into two:-

Statutory reports – They are prepared and presented according to the form and procedure laid down by law. e.g. the directors of a company are required to submit a statutory report to the share holders in annual general meeting.
An auditors report
Non statutory reports
Are formal reports which are not required under any law. e.g. management may require a departmental head to write a report on a certain issue.

2. Based on number of persons writing a report

  • Report by individuals
  • Report by committee or sub committee

3 On the basis of nature of reports

  • Periodic or routine reports
  • Progress reports
  • Examination reports
  • Recommendation reports
  • Statistical reports

Writing a Report
1. Before beginning you need to know why you are writing the report and what exactly you are writing about.
2. You need to keep report accurate and relevant
3. While writing the report omit opinions from sections concerning the facts.
4. Organize your points in a logical order.
5. Use your judgment and experience when suggesting actions or making recommendations.
6. Use language suited to the leader and make sure each session has clear heading.

Sections of a Report
1. The title
The title should be concise but comprehensive. The situation stated briefly together with name of company and date of the event. E.g. Report on staffing levels in the general office, William engineering on Friday 15th December 2006.
2. Background
This contains two kinds of information. Brief descriptions of circumstances under discussion and outline of the procedure/method of inquiry used by writer. e.g. On Friday 15th December the general office was staffed only by Mr. Jones and the other four staff
members were absent. As a result the services available were limited. I have discussed the matter in confidence with each member of staff involved and also with other departments which were concerned.
3. Findings
This is the part of report. It presents in simple clear, unbiased terms an account of the events or circumstances which form the subject of the report.

Principles to follow when preparing the findings
1. Organize your material in sections according to subject area and present each one under a clear descriptive heading which could be clearly numbered.
2. Write in clear, single style points under consideration only. Don’t note from or numbered from below your findings.
3. Include only those statistics that are really essential to support your points. The findings do not interpret, they only give the observations
4. Conclusions
This means that section of report that interprets the facts and the observations represented in the findings. It presents direct and clear interpretation of event or circumstances.

Basic Principles of presenting conclusions
1. Conclusions should be presented under the same series of subject heading as findings and in the same order with the same system of numbering.
2. It should be written in simple continuous prose.
3. Do not include statistics or graphs or maps which have not been included in the findings.
5. Recommendations
It’s the final section of a report and it puts forward future course of action concerning the topic under investigation.

Principles
1. Each recommendation should be as specific as possible given the information available.
2. Even when we feel the present arrangement for a certain aspect of topic is satisfactory, you should mention this in the recommendation section. E.g. current arrangement for replacing lost library tickets is satisfactory and should remain unchanged.
3. Recommendations should be grouped under the same heading and should appear in the same order as used in findings or conclusions.
4. Recommendations must rest on the information and the findings and the reasoning in conclusions so that the leader can see that the reports proceed clearly and logically and nothing has been cancelled.
5. Signature, Name, Position and date.
This should follow each other in that sequence.

3.4. SUMMARY WRITING
Summary is also referred to as precise or abstract. It means a prose passage or composition from which all unnecessary and unrelated ideas and words have been removed. Word precise is a French term that means exact or just. A precise is written in precise
writer own words and about 1/3 of original passage.

Abstract: Its summary constructed by extracting the key sentences or a paragraph and putting them together coherently.
A precise/summary is in form of paragraphs a summary on the other hand can be in form of paragraph or inform of notes.

Objectives of Precise/Summary
Objectives of summary is
To put down in short form a message which can be understood by very busy officers who do not have time to read original passage.

Qualities of good summary

  1. Should be concise
    I.e. a summary should be as long or short to serve the purpose.
  2. Clarity
    – It has to be clear.
  3. Coherent
    I.e. it should hold together. You can use the following words to join sentences or paragraphs consequently. Moreover, however, naturally, next, thus, nevertheless, finally etc. You can also use phrases to join paragraphs or sentences e.g. equally important, in
    this way, on contrary, first of all, on the other hand, of course, for instance etc.

How to make summary
1. Read the passage thoroughly. Try to get general idea of passage
2. Read the passage again until you have grasped the entire meaning
3. Underline/highlight all important ideas.
4. Write down a title which sums up the theme of the passage
5. Rewrite in fewer words what the author has said, use your own language as far as possible.
6. Re-read the passage, compare you point with passage to ensure no important points have been overlooked and nothing insignificant has been included.
7. Using your points write down sum and substance of the passage in well connected and readable paragraphs. This is your rough draft.
8. Count the words in your rough draft. Make alterations if necessary to give your summary the required length.
9. Review and rephrase you rough draft where desirable.
10. Reconsider the appropriateness of your heading/title.

Title Heading
The heading can be written before the summary is made. The heading should express in few words the theme of passage. The topic should be written one line or less. More than one line may appear confusing. A summary can have many suitable headings but you should choose the best that gives the central theme or the passage.

Rules of writing summary

  1. Determine the theme of passage very carefully.
  2. A summary is not reproduction of important sentences but it’s the act of remodeling.
  3. Brevity is good but not at the expense of clarity.
  4. Your summary ought to be intelligible even to persons who have not read the original passage.
  5. Use your own language.
  6. Summary is always written in 3rd Person.
  7. Use your own discretion if the passage contains statistical information.
  8. The summary should be well proportioned.
  9. You are not to give any comments appreciative or critical on ideas expressed in the passage.
  10. Reproduce the passage to its 1/3rd.

How to achieve brevity
1. Try to replace clauses by phrases and phrases by words. E.g. “an arrangement of a permanent nature,” Can be written as “A permanent arrangement” E.g. “To a considerable degree” you can write “considerably”.
2. Make use of one word substitutions. E.g. “the secretary’s proposal was adopted with the full agreement of all the members”. You can simply say “the secretary’s proposal was adopted unanimously”.
3. Avoid unnecessary repetition e.g. it was decided to allow only our own executives to participate in the seminar and not to invite any external participants. The words in italics are unnecessary repetitions.
4. It’s important to link various sentences. For example; we are selling a new garden fertilizer in the market. It’s in form of powder. Its colour is pink. You can dust it on the plants. You can dissolve it in water and spray. You can say “Our new garden fertilizer, a
fine pink coloured powder can be dusted on the plants or dissolved in water and sprayed”.
5. When writing a summary; omit examples, comparisons, contrasts and mere details.

3.5. READING
Many readers waste a lot of time for 2 reasons.

  1. They read everything at the same speed, often at a slow pace.
  2. They do not understand or retain what they have read

A good reader adjusts his/her speed according to the purpose or difficulty of the subjectmatter.

Reading Techniques
1. Scanning
It’s the process of looking quickly through a text to find a particular piece of information. To scan move your eyes quickly down the text looking for key words related to the topic in question. Scanning is used for reading street or telephone directories to find particular name. Its also used when you need to go through a piece of continous writing to find specific piece of information eg. statistics.

Scanning can be useful for reading annual report, catalogue. Members of staff read many reports. Scanning is important to allow them grase the main draft of the report.

How to increase scanning speed
Draw a finger down the center or the page while moving your eyes rapidly from side to side as you follow it down.
Uses of certain techniques – move an envelope or piece of paper down the page curtaining off the line you have read.

2. Skimming
Skimming is glancing at speed over the printed words on a page. In skimming words are not individually note but an impression is gained. Skimming requires a lot of concentration to get an idea of what the text is all about.
Where skimming is used

  • To preview
  • To identify priorities where to read more slowly.
  • To find a required piece of information
  • To help memory by immediate grasp of what we have just read.

How to skim

1. Anticipation.
As we read we should aim to understand the whole content by seeing the complete picture rather than the small separate bits. This means that you think faster than you read and make predictions or what you expect to read next. E.g. if a problem has been
described, you may well anticipate a solution.

2. Organization
Go through the structure or patterns of the writing. This skeleton will help you in grasping the whole text e.g. a book is divided into chapters and subsections. If we go through the structure we find our way more speedily.

Study Reading
This is required when you need to read in detail, when studying a report or a textbook study reading is crucial mostly when reading contracts and other legal documents.

Method
1. When you take a textbook, make sure of all the clues it offers before you actually begin to read it.
2. Read the ‘blurb’ inspect the context page I read the preface and check the subject index.
3. While reading, look for the internal skeleton for synopsis and summarize for topic sentences in paragraphs, for headings and italics which may emphasize key points by making the book and taking notes.
4. Skim the notes once you have finished reading.

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