Writing well in English – or any other language for that matter – involves somewhat more than avoiding errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. Good writing is not just correct; it responds to the interests or needs of the intended readers. It must be planned, structured and designed with a particular audience and a particular purpose in mind. For maximum effectiveness, writers need to take decisions at a variety of levels, ranging from the overall structure of the document, through the organisation of sentences within paragraphs, to the placing of certain words at certain points in sentences. They should be aware that the writing process is full of challenges. Unlike speech, writing cannot rely on intonation or gesture, or exploit immediate feedback to put communication back on track. Likewise, unlike speakers, writers have to make certain assumptions about their intended – and often anonymous – audience, and they have to understand that communication is primarily their responsibility: they know full well what they want to say, but their audience may not; and it is up to them to bridge the gap.
This section aims to make you aware of the issues to be considered if you are to rise to these challenges, convey your message efficiently and produce readily understandable texts.