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Writing Workshop

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  1. Writing Workshop

  2. Headlines “Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half”

  3. Introduction “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Gene Fowler, author (1890–1960)

  4. Introduction “We developed and implemented behavioral studies documenting responses of bald eagles to military training.” Subcontractor Project Description

  5. Introduction

  6. IntroductionWriting That Supports our Core Values • What is “good” writing? • Good, clear writing supports a relationship-based culture • reflects commitment and respect to our reader • makes our message easy to understand • allows our readers to make informed decisions • We promote this style in all writing to our clients, employees, and other stakeholders

  7. IntroductionWorkshop Overview • “Rules” presented today constitute our established writing style, as defined in the Style Guide of Our Identity Program • Training covers • Structure • Writing Style • Language

  8. IntroductionWorkshop Overview • We provide “before” and “after” examples for each rule • Before demonstrates common pitfalls • After shows possible improvements • Interactive exercises follow the examples

  9. Headlines “Stolen Painting Found by Tree”

  10. Structure “There once was a young man from LymeWho couldn't get his limericks to rhymeWhen asked "Why not?"It was said that he thoughtThey were probably too long and badly structured and not at all very funny.” Anonymous

  11. StructureOverall Objectives • Reflect a clarity of thought and purpose • Provide a framework to ensure that our message is easily accessible • Make it easier for us to write those documents

  12. StructureRule #1: Outline Document • Outline document or section to smoothly and logically develop your argument • Start with important ideas first; group similar ideas • Each section, paragraph, and sentence supports and ties together your main points

  13. StructureRule #1: Outline Document • Use transitions to guide reader through document • guiding words • intentionally repeated words • closely associated concepts • lead sentences • headings

  14. StructureRule #1: Outline Document Before The worst aspect of the fixed-price paradigm is that it pits client and contractor against each other. The lowest price doesn’t always turn out to be the lowest cost. The lowest capital cost may not be in the client’s best interests. It may not necessarily be the lowest cost at which the plant could be built. After

  15. StructureRule #1: Outline Document After The worst aspect of the fixed-price paradigm is that it pits client and contractor against each other. As it turns out, the lowest price doesn’t always mean lowest cost. Further, the lowest capital cost may not be in the client’s best interests. Finally, it may not necessarily be the lowest cost at which the plant could be built.

  16. StructureRule #2: One Main Point per Paragraph • Develop a new paragraph for each main point • Use topic sentence to make point early in the paragraph • Substantiate the main point with supporting statements and examples • Organize sentences logically

  17. Headlines “Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead”

  18. StructureRule #2: One Main Point per Paragraph Before Typical field services include full construction and installation, start-up assistance, environmental remediation, shutdowns, turnarounds, and maintenance & operations. We provide field services that complement our design and project management services. We routinely achieve outstanding safety performance records protecting our employees and those of our client’s. After

  19. StructureRule #2: One Main Point per Paragraph After We provide field services that complement our engineering and project management services. Typical services include full construction and installation, start-up assistance, environmental remediation, shutdowns, turnarounds, and maintenance & operations. In performing field services, we routinely achieve outstanding safety performance records, protecting our client’s and our own employees.

  20. StructureRule #3: Vary Paragraphs for Readability • Paragraphs should be short, averaging 5-8 sentences • Vary paragraph lengths to create white space • If appropriate, use lists, tables, or graphics to break up or replace paragraphs

  21. StructureRule #3: Vary Paragraphs for Readability Before The Jacobs Family Foundation began as a family business wrought with all the idiosyncrasies of family history and family dynamics. The Foundation emerged as a reflection of the family members' different views, different commitments, different ideas, and different approaches. But they shared one thing--the same values. Moving forward to create a philanthropic entity that represented them as individuals and as a whole, the family was guided by its common values: be respectful of everyone's opinions at the table; be open, direct, and accountable; have the courage to take risks--win or lose. After

  22. StructureRule #3: Vary Paragraphs for Readability After The Jacobs Family Foundation began as a family business wrought with all the idiosyncrasies of family history and family dynamics. The Foundation emerged as a reflection of the family members' different views, different commitments, different ideas, and different approaches. But they shared one thing--the same values. Thus, the Jacobs family moved forward to create a philanthropic entity to represent them both as individuals and as a whole, guided by common values: to be respectful of everyone's opinions at the table; to be open, direct, and accountable; and to have the courage to take risks--win or lose.

  23. StructureRule #4: Short, Simple Sentences • Use succinct sentences (averaging 8-12 words) to state clear, crisp thoughts • Use longer sentences with proper phrasing (no more than 20 words) to elaborate on a point • Use simple syntax: subject close to verb, adjectives close to nouns

  24. Headlines “Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Counter”

  25. StructureRule #4: Short, Simple Sentences Before As one of your critical capital initiatives over the next several years, your Clean Fuels Program presents several challenges to you and your business, including assuring adequate resources cost-effectively, which can be optimized through the use of modular construction to deliver your Clean Fuels capital projects within your allocated schedule. (One sentence, 51 words) After

  26. StructureRule #4: Short, Simple Sentences Before As one of your critical capital initiatives over the next several years, your Clean Fuels Program presents several challenges to you and your business, including assuring adequate resources cost-effectively, which can be optimized through the use of modular construction to deliver your Clean Fuels capital projects within your allocated schedule.(One sentence, 51 words) After • Your Clean Fuels Program presents several challenges.(7)Assuring adequate resources cost-effectively is one such challenge.(9)Using modular construction, we optimize these resources to deliver your Clean Fuels capital projects on time.(16)

  27. Headlines “Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told”

  28. Style “Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.” Sam Brown, Washington Post, 1977

  29. StyleOverall Objectives • Implement clear, consistent writing style, companywide • Write documents to read as if written by one author--this is “our voice” • Reinforce company identity with readers

  30. StyleRule #1: First Person, Second Person Author (“we”) speaks directly to reader (“you”) Before: Jacobs minimizes Northwestern Hospital’s risk and helps it manage the expansion project. After: We minimize your risk while supporting your expansion project.

  31. StyleRule #1: First Person, Second Person Before Jacobs Facilities Inc. (JFI) is providing construction management services for GSA’s new federal courthouse project in Alexandria, Virginia. After

  32. StyleRule #1: First Person, Second Person Before Jacobs Facilities Inc. (JFI) is providing construction management services for GSA’s new federal courthouse project in Alexandria, Virginia. After We currently provide construction management services on your new federal courthouse project in Alexandria, Virginia.

  33. StyleRule #2: Present Tense • Action is now • implies current competency • Use: • we design (simple present) • we are designing (progressive present) • Avoid: • we designed/have designed/have been/were designing (past forms) • we will design (future)

  34. StyleRule #2: Present Tense Before: We will obtain our top management’s commitment to developing and reinforcing the alliance. After: Our top management commits to developing and reinforcing the alliance.

  35. StyleRule #2: Present Tense Before As part of your bridge retrofit project, we will conduct detailed strength and yield analyses on several new beam designs. After

  36. StyleRule #2: Present Tense Before As part of your bridge retrofit project, we will conduct detailed strength and yield analyses on several new beam designs. After As part of your bridge retrofit project, we conduct detailed strength and yield analyses on several new beam designs.

  37. StyleRule #2: Present Tense Before We will bring Georgia-Pacific an experienced project team that has successfully executed Phase I of this project. After

  38. StyleRule #2: Present Tense Before We will bring Georgia-Pacific an experienced project team that has successfully executed Phase I of this project. After Our project team brings you experience from our successful Phase I execution.

  39. StyleRule #3: Active Voice • Active voice: subject does the action • stronger verbs, shorter sentences • responsible party (“doer”) is clear “We manage the project.” • Passive voice: subject receives the action • weaker verbs, wordier sentences • responsible party often unclear “The project is managed.”

  40. StyleRule #3: Active Voice Passive: The plans are checked to ensure that all members of the project team are using the same version. Active: We check the plans to ensure that all team members use the same version. (or) Our project engineer checks…

  41. StyleRule #3: Active Voice Before At this stage, programming data is formalized and schematic design is initiated. After

  42. StyleRule #3: Active Voice Before At this stage, programming data is formalized and schematic design is initiated. After At this stage, we formalize programming data and initiate schematic design.

  43. StyleRule #3: Active Voice Before Approximately 300 hours per drawing are required on each P&ID. After

  44. StyleRule #3: Active Voice Before Approximately 300 hours per drawing are required on each P&ID. After Each P&ID requires approximately 300 hours per drawing.

  45. StyleYour Turn: real life examples Exercise A Before Jacobs Engineering’s team will include PECL as a local Taiwanese contractor responsible for detail design and construction support services. With their long-standing history of joint venturing with international firms on many industrial projects, the team will successfully meet Fujitsu’s needs on this program. (hint: Style Rules #1 and #2)

  46. StyleYour Turn: real life examples Exercise A Before Jacobs Engineering’s team will include PECL as a local Taiwanese contractor responsible for detail design and construction support services. With their long-standing history of joint venturing with international firms on many industrial projects, the team will successfully meet Fujitsu’s needs on this program. After Our team includes PECL, a local Taiwanese contractor responsible for detail design and construction support services. We meld our international and local experience together to successfully meet your program needs.

  47. StyleYour Turn: real life examples Exercise B Before Supporting the JSE Construction Administrator during the construction phase will be an on-site Mechanical Field Administrator/Coordinator and clerical support to augment ABC Semiconductor’s facility staff to specifically assist in managing the various trade subcontract packages and scheduling and cost assistance to support these functions. Procurement will be provided from a project remote location. Expediting and cost reporting will be handled on site. (hint: all three Style Rules)

  48. StyleYour Turn: real life examples Exercise B Before Supporting the JSE Construction Administrator during the construction phase will be an on-site Mechanical Field Administrator/Coordinator and clerical support to augment ABC Semiconductor’s facility staff to specifically assist in managing the various trade subcontract packages and scheduling and cost assistance to support these functions. Procurement will be provided from a project remote location. Expediting and cost reporting will be handled on site. After During the construction phase, our team includes a construction administrator, onsite mechanical field administrator/coordinator, and clerical support. Our team augments your facility staff in managing the various trade subcontract packages, including cost and schedule assistance. We handle expediting and cost reporting on site, and procurement from our home office.

  49. Headlines “Iraqi Head Seeks Arms”

  50. Language “I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out.” Katherine Dunn