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Information Mapping for Business Writing One of the most important tools in my consulting toolkit is Information Mapping, both a formal method approach to writing and a format visual style for writing.
I recommend it for most business writing for the advantages it offers both the writer and the reader. I brought the method to Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. It became the standard for training documentation and technical writing by the Information Technology department, and many of my colleagues adopted the format for their own use.
This post introduces you to Information Mapping by: Presenting an overview of the concepts of the method and the typical formatting.
Sharing some practical tips on using the method and addressing some of its shortcomings. Writing a two chunk paragraph additional resources if you are interested in learning more about Information Mapping.
The first memo displayed below was the original draft given to me to proofread. I suggested rewriting the memo in the Information Mapping method, asked some questions for clarification, and quickly drafted a new version.
The revised memo displayed below was the one actually sent to the customers. The procedure changes are embedded in the first paragraph and are difficult to follow.
The revised memo Example 2 uses the Information Mapping method of writing. The change, benefits, new procedure, and contact information are clearly presented to the customer.
The process of organizing the information in the memo exposed gaps in content in the original draft. Since the original draft memo was not distributed, it is not possible to measure before and after results. A comparison of the two memos suggests the revised memo anticipates and addresses concerns and questions that would have arisen with the original draft, reducing confusion, e-mail follow-ups, and telephone customer service calls.
I make that distinction because many people become aware of the look of an information-mapped document the format or visual style without realizing there are underlying principles and techniques the method to the writing.
The Method In traditional business writing, the basic unit of writing is the paragraph, made of several sentences. In Information Mapping, there are two basic units of writing: The content is based on the purpose or function for the reader not the writer.
Note in the example revised memo presented above, there are four information blocks: Change with some sentences about the changeBenefits with a list of benefitsProcedure with a table presenting the steps and actions to takeand Questions. A collection of relevant information blocks about a limited topic.
In the example revised memo, the one page is an information map about the change to the ordering process. Another example of an information block and and information map is presented below.
In this example two pages of the same information map is displayed. Example 3 click image to view Information Mapping is based on several principles applied to writing. These principles are based on research conducted by Robert E.
Hornwho founded a company Information Mapping, Inc. Principle Chunking principle All information should be grouped into small, manageable units.
Each information block in Example 3 illustrates chunking. And each information map is a chunking of an overall document or section. Relevance principle The information grouped in a unit should relate to one relevant point based on its purpose or function for the reader.
The "Description" information block in Example 3 only gives a description, nothing more. The "Sources of information" block only lists the sources. A reader can scan these labels to find a chunk of information more easily as a result of this principle.
Consistency principle Information presented should use consistent words, labels, formats, organizations, and sequences. Business writing is not creative writing; the same word should always be used consistently. In Example 3, the word "project" is consistently used throughout the document. Integrated graphics principle Diagrams, tables, pictures, and other visuals should be incorporated as an integral part of the text, not as an afterthought added after the writing is completed.
Example 3 includes a table to visually depict the data, rather than narrative which buries the data in text. Accessible detail principle Writers should write at a level of detail that makes the information the reader needs readily accessible and put what the reader needs where the reader needs it.I’m once again writing with a product from the folks at iA — Writer Pro.I gave their first product, iA Writer, a good long try last year, but eventually gave up when I discovered I couldn’t adjust the text size to see additional text on my screen.
It’s seems like a minor nit, but it was a major violation of my writing .
Draw a dark horizontal line about 5 or 6 lines from the bottom. Use a heavy magic marker to draw the line so that it is clear. How to Write a Book Report. In this Article: Article Summary Researching and Outlining Your Report Writing the Body of Your Report Finishing Up Your Report Sample Book Report and Summaries Community Q&A Writing a book report may not seem fun at first, but it gives you a great chance to really understand a work and its author.
Book of Mormon Problems. LDS Church members are taught that the Book of Mormon (BOM) is scripture, as well as a true record of the inhabitants of the Americas from about BC to AD.
Organizing Your Compare and Contrast Paper. There are two primary ways to organize your compare and contrast paper.
Chunking: placing all of the information for each individual subject in one place (chunk), and then using similarities as transitions. Here’s a sample outline. Website overview: Since the Study Guides and Strategies Website has been researched, authored, maintained and supported as an international, learner-centric, educational public service.
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