Planning before you write

Planning before you write will help to ensure that your content is ‘fit for purpose’ – that it meets both your communication needs and the needs of your audiences in terms of the information they want, and the format, structure and language they will engage with.

Before you write or edit content, you need to know the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose (eg do you want to inform, persuade, encourage, instruct)?
  • Who is the audience (eg the general public, government and other decision makers, scientists, industry, children, adults)?
  • What is your message (what are the key points you want your audience to understand)?
  • How will the content be published (eg book, brochure, webpage)?
  • What are the constraints (eg document length, budget, deadline, whether you have to use a template)?
  • Do you need to plan for the future (eg is this document part of a series, or is it online content that will be updated)?

The answers to these questions will determine what you include, how you write and how much you write.

It is also a good idea to start to think about your design. Information design should be started at an early stage so that the text will work together with visual elements to make content as readable, engaging and effective as possible.

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