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Starting to write

Ask yourself:

What are my readers looking for? Choose some key words, or ask people what they would like to know. The most persuasive writing addresses the users’ need. Focus on what someone needs or wants to know, before what it’s convenient for us to tell them.

How much do they already know? Don’t explain past systems or previous care if that’s not needed. Do explain terms or names that might not be familiar – for example Sandyford or WestMARC.

How much do they want/need to know? Don’t overwhelm readers with too much information. You can always add another page or article.

What do I need to say?  Make sure to include the essentials – ask:

  • Who is this for or about?
  • What is the key message or information point?
  • When is this happening or when does my patient need to know/do this?
  • Where will this happen – how will people get there?
  • Why are we doing this? Why does my reader need to know?
  • What happens next?  Let people know exactly what action you want them to take, be very specific.

Next identify the most important information from this list. Put this first in your text. Catch people in the few seconds while you have their attention

What do you want to say? Is there anything extra that will make this more useful, more human or more interesting? If there is great extra content consider another article or page.

How do you want to say it? Be professional. Be warm and human too. Consider your context.  Using ‘we’ and ‘us’ is often more appropriate than ‘NHSGGC’ ‘the Board’ ‘the service’.  Addressing people as ‘you’ is better than ‘patients’ or ‘service users’.

Is existing material fit for purpose? You might have existing text. It might have most of the content you need. Read it critically. Is there a shorter or simpler way to write this? Is it written for my audience? Use what is good.  Avoid ‘cut and paste’ or uploading leaflets or posters without writing good text to introduce or support them. Check that everything is still correct. See if the content can be improved.  

Make notes as you go and get some of the information down.

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