From Post-its to Proposals, Know How to Write it All

Have you ever had someone explain something to you and think, was that even English? The workplace isn’t much different, entering a career there may be a lot of lingo or common knowledge that may not be all that common to you or a co-worker. With multiple projects and things to do in a busy office your co-workers need clear and concise messages so that they know exactly what you need from them. Using rhetorical awareness and formatting text so they have a user-centered design will make the most out of any office literature. Learn how to write simple and successful emails, notes, and project proposals with these easy tricks.

Focus on the W’s

Successful rhetorical awareness is achieved when writing has a clear focus. Think about the bigger picture, instead of solely thinking about writing an email or proposal think about how your audience will respond and what points may need further explaining or are going to raise the most questions. The easiest way to make sure that writing has included all necessary points is to answer the five W’s:

  • Who
  • What
  • Why
  • When
  • Where


The first step when writing anything is to identify your audience, are you addressing your boss? A co-worker? Or perhaps a client? When speaking to your boss you want to appear respectful, level-headed and educated. To a co-worker, prepared, ready to lead and reliable. You would want to be seen as all of these things when talking to a client as well as always having their best interest in mind. Some of your readers, a client for example, may not be as educated in certain areas of your business and it is your job to simplify these processes. Think about who is going to be affected the most. Once you have identified who the reader is you can establish the acceptable tone.

What/ Why

What and why go together on this list as they both apply to the overall meaning and content of the message. The purpose of any writing should be front and center. Do not wait till the end of the email to explain what the message was for, in fact make it the subject of an email, or the header of a memo. Reminding co-workers why a meeting is taking place underlines the importance of the project and makes it seem like less of an order to attend, and more of a group effort. Theres a lot to remember when writing in the workplace, set a clear path for your writing and stick to it. Think about how you want your reader to perceive the information you are sharing, keep in mind concerns they may have so you can tailor your writing to fit not only their demands but your goal as well.


Timing when to give information is key. You don’t want to give someone a memo for a meeting that is going to happen in three months, it is very easy to completely forget about the meeting and even easier to lose the memo. Similarly you don’t want to wait till the last minute to inform someone about a meeting or deadline that is quickly approaching, giving a notice of about a week or two at most, allows people to stay on top of when an event is happening and plan accordingly.


Which inbox your message lands in is also key. More and more people are mixing work and personal life, this doesn’t mean your boss is automatically one of them. An important message should never find it way to an informal text or Facebook message no matter how urgent.

Take a Look at the Layout

User-centered design focuses less on the content of message and more on layout. Writing should be easily navigated and have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Things like bullet points, headings, and breaking up text with images allows the reader to focus on main points and get a break from huge blocks of hypnotic text. Together headings followed by a brief paragraph allow readers to scan and pick up on the most important points of your writing.

One of the biggest things that should influence how you are writing is your audience. When user-centered design does relate to the content of a message it is looking a sentence structure as well as word choice. As I earlier stated your client is not going to be aware of industry lingo or common protocol in your office. A writer should never assume something is common knowledge if it is specific to their industry, after all this client did come to you for help and need text that easy to comprehend.

Final Thoughts

Rhetorical awareness allows you to get the most out of your writing. You are able to identify your audience and keep in mind your final goal. Pairing rhetorical awareness with user-centered design allows clients and people outside of your industry to be on the same page and highlight the most important parts of your overall message. Stick to a plan and remember who you are writing for this why writing in the workplace will always be a success.


6 thoughts on “From Post-its to Proposals, Know How to Write it All

  1. I liked how you talked about the five “W’s.” It’s an easy way to remember everything that needs to be included when using rhetorical awareness. I also liked how you started your post with a question, especially one in which I could answer “yes” to and relate to since that situation seems to happen all of the time when I have no idea what people are talking about.

  2. Thank you! I feel like theres not a lot of help for millennials and writing to an audience that I can also identify with makes giving advise a lot easier!

  3. You captured my attention right off the bat with your creative title and intriguing hook. I also really like how you talked about the important 5W’s. I agree with you, it is necessary to address and answer the five W’s when writing. Overall, this blog was really helpful and informative. Great job!

    1. Thank you! I feel like having a “check list” of areas to make sure you cover allows you to stay on point and answer all possible questions a reader may have.

  4. Your title to this blog really got my attention. Something that you said that really made me think was that the business world does have their own lingo and slang that we are going to have to adapt to at some point. I like how you incorporated all of the W’s. Those are all very important when figuring out how to capture our audience! Great job with this blog!

  5. I think the five W’s are SO important when it comes down to writing… No matter who you are reaching out to, you’ll want to know your purpose. I really like how you outlined each “W” for the reader to fully grasp how it applies to your topic. I also love your comment that a writer should never assume something is common knowledge. I believe that is so crucial.

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