This collection was submitted for publication and is copyright to
Jason Westland, ©2009
Published April 2010

Introduction | The 5 Goals of a Project Manager 
How to Manage Projects Step-by-Step | How to Create a Communications Plan
How to Write Great Project Documents

How to Write Great Project Documents

As a Project Manager, and as a part of the Communications Plan, you often have to write lengthy documents that are critical to the success of the project. So it's important that you do a good job. To improve your writing skills, take note of these top tips.

Keep it simple

Great writers can cover whole topics in just a few short paragraphs. To do this, you need to remove any surplus content, clutter and jargon and write in simple, plain terms that everyone understands. That way, your documents will be quick and easy to read.

Make it focused

To create a powerful project document, you need to focus purely on the topic. This will make your document more persuasive and inspiring to read. So think carefully about the content that your readers expect you to cover. Then list your topics and stick to them. Never write off the topic. If you need to go off topic, then put the content in an Appendix at the end and refer to it. The same applies to a lot of detail in which only some readers will be interested.

Have a clear structure

You also need to think carefully about your Table of Contents. Your readers need to be able to scan the Table of Contents to get a quick feel for what your document contains. The Table of Contents should be simple and easy to understand. In your document, you should also:

  • Use tables to make it easier to read
  • Insert diagrams to explain difficult topics
  • Use short paragraphs to accentuate points
  • Make use of bolding, italics and underlining
  • Use bullets, as they are easy to scan with the eye.

Always tell a story

Everyone loves a good story. So write each document as though it was the best story in town. Start with the beginning by introducing your topic, followed by telling them what they are going to learn by reading your document. Then write the main body of the document and end with a summary and/or a conclusion.

Make it flow

Write your document so that each of the sections flows from one topic to the next. This way, the user never has to pause to work out where they are. So before you finish each section, introduce the next section. This helps keep the reader motivated.

Just the right amount

Give your readers "just the right amount of information" needed to make a decision or take an action. Keep it short, but informative and helpful. Note the tip about putting stuff in an Appendix mentioned earlier.

Be inspiring

Great writers are passionate about what they are writing. If you are positive and inspirational about your documents, then your reader will catch the excitement and your document will not only be enjoyable to read, but achieve their desired effect.

Editor's Note

For really succinct and powerful writing, follow the Wideman 3-4-5 Principle, described in Issacon #1453 at page 7.

How to Create a Communications Plan  How to Create a Communications Plan

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