People who possess written communication skills are able to effectively develop, convey, and exchange ideas in writing, as appropriate to a given audience and context. There are four main components to effective written communication3:
Central Idea: Good writing involves constructing a clear, manageable idea, argument or thesis. From a clear central idea or purpose, an individual can then develop subordinate ideas that support and reinforce the main idea.
Organization: Good organization is both logical and sequential. It keeps the reader oriented to the central and subordinate ideas. It guides the reader between divisions of the material. Aspects include:
- An introduction that orients the reader to the central idea and the line of reasoning.
- Subordinate ideas clearly and effectively arranged in a logical and coherent sequence with.
- Transitions that are clear and helpful.
- A conclusion or closing that summarizes the argument, emphasizes the central idea, and leaves the reader with a sense of completion.
Supporting Material: Effective supporting material includes examples that are relevant, specific, and persuasive as well as credible evidence that supports the argument. Explanations, examples, statistics, and quotations should reinforce the main idea, answering the “how” and “why” of the main argument and make the ideas and information presented meaningful and memorable for the reader. Supporting material helps explain to the reader “Why I should care.”
Tone, Perspective, and Wording: Using language that is clear, specific, accurate, and appropriate to the audience, purpose, and material is essential to effective written communication. Individuals who use variety in both sentence structure and length exhibit fluency in writing and maintain the attention of the reader. This includes correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
3 The following information comes from: Wilbers, Stephen. “Five Elements of Effective Writing.” N.d. PDF file.