Structures and signposts help your readers

I’ve been working on a few longer documents recently, which has reminded me how important it is to structure texts.

If writing a book or booklet, a structure helps to keep the reader’s mind focused, whereas text that meanders from one subject to the next without really knowing where it’s going can lose the reader fast. A reader who doesn’t find content useful or entertaining is more likely to just give up.

Creating a structure is not difficult, especially for business or reference works. Start by listing the topics to be covered and arrange these into chapter headings and sub-sections. This not only helps readers, who can find what they’re looking for more easily, but helps when writing, as you will know where to put specific material and will be more aware of wandering off topic.

Very few business books are likely to be read from cover to cover with many people dipping in and out or looking up specific topics, so chapters, effective headings and sub-sections provide useful signposts for readers searching for information or answers.

Robert Zarywacz