Dr. Judith M. Newman

Immediate Concerns
Later Concerns

When you are preparing business writing, there are priorities of concerns in choosing what to think about and work on. Begin with the Immediate Concerns which are aspects of the writing most responsible for the quality of the document. Save the Later Concerns for the last draft, when you are ready to look closely at specific points of grammar and mechanics.

Some Immediate Concerns

Focus and Purpose
  • What is your document intended to do or accomplish?
  • Will the purpose be clear to the reader?
  • Can you offer a one-sentence summary of the document’s purpose?
  • Is your main point stated early in the document?
  • Do you have a specific and appropriate audience in mind? Can you describe them?
  • What is their position? What is your relationship with them?
  • How much do they already know about this topic?
  • Can you determine what their feelings toward your document will be?
  • Have you used language that they will be able to understand?
  • Is your tone appropriate for your audience?
  • Does your document proceed in a logical and organized way?
  • Is each paragraph organized around one main idea?
  • Can you identify the most important information in the message quickly?
  • Is like information kept together?
  • For resumes, have you placed your most important or relevant qualifications where they stand out, or have you highlighted them in some way?
  • Ask others to read your document and tell you what they think are your most important ideas
  • Is the order of presentation of the points effective?
  • Did you include enough details and examples to support your main point?
  • Is it clear by the end of the message what you want the reader to do or know?
  • Do you provide enough context for the message or is more background information required?
  • Do some paragraphs seem shorter and in need of more information than others?
  • Is all the information included necessary?
  • Have someone read the document and tell you if something seems unclear or could use more description, explanation, or support

Some Later Concerns

Sentence structure, punctuation, word choice, spelling
  • Are there problems that frequently occur in your writing?
    Keep a list of problems that recur and check for those specifically.
  • Read the document aloud to see and hear if there are any missing or wrong words or other errors that you can spot
  • For possible spelling errors, proofread backwards, from the end of a line to the beginning
  • Are all of the parts of the message included and in the correct position?
  • What will be the reader’s first impression when looking at the document (before reading)?
  • Does the document look attractive on the page?
  • Does your document conform to standard business writing convention? Have you placed information in your message where your reader will expect to see it?
  • Have you addressed and signed your document appropriately?

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