Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
February 2008 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

Organization: Creating Strong Headings

Business writing often requires headings—whether to announce the purpose of an email or memo, or to identify sections in a larger document. Always keep in mind the purpose of your headings, and use the following tips to make the most of them:

  • Avoid vague, general words. Instead, focus on precise wording, with strong verbs and specific nouns that clearly identify the topic. For example, when composing your e-mail subject line, instead of simply writing “Customers,” you might write, “Addressing Customer Complaints.”

  • When including multiple headings within a longer document, be sure to use parallel form for quick comprehension. This means using the same form for each heading. For instance, in a memo about a software update, you might cast your headings as a series of questions: “Why a Software Upgrade?” “What Features Have Changed?” and “How Can I Learn More?” As another example, a more formal paper on environmental issues might contain headings such as, “Goal: Clean Air Standard Compliance,” “Problem: High Toxic Emissions,” and “Solution: New Equipment.”

  • Use typographical techniques to good effect. For example, help call attention to your headings by using a different typeface and a larger font, boldface or italics. If the body of your text is in a serif font such as Times Roman, consider a sans serif font like Arial for headings. But avoid using all caps or exclamation points—they look like shouting.

You can find more ways to create strong headings on page 81 of Business and Sales Correspondence, part of the EZ Series of business writing materials from UpWrite Press.

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That Little Extra

Chances are, most or all of your writing is done on a computer. The computer is a wonderful tool, and word-processing programs include great helpers for writers—but be careful not to rely on them exclusively. For instance, while a spell-checker will find every actual misspelling, it cannot catch errors in word choice such as substituting “their” for “there.” Always proofread to make sure you have used the right word—and if you aren’t sure, look it up. Many word-processors have a dictionary built-in too.

Join Our Writers’ Forum

We invite you to be part of our monthly eTips. Each month we pose a question or problem regarding the use of writing in business. Send us your reply along with your name, your company’s name, and a brief description of what you do. We will print the best responses, and you will get your name out to our more than 5,000 subscribers! (We reserve the right to edit your remarks for fit and suitability.)

February Writers’ Forum Topic

What was your most recent team-writing project? What was the biggest stumbling block your team encountered? How did you solve it?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “February Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in March:
Voice: Sounding Confident
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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2008, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.