Case study: Dog’s breakfast before and after

In the previous three articles, I talked about the quick tips and tricks I use when streamlining a complex and poorly-structured document. To give you an idea of my process, I’ve created a case study using a document by the fictional organisation, ‘Pacific Aged Care.’ You will see that it’s a poorly constructed and badly worded draft.

Your first step was to establish the brief. You did this by asking your manager what the purpose of the document is, who it is intended for and what the organisation wants the reader to do after they’ve read it.

You now know that its purpose is to

  • promote Pacific Aged Care to prospective residents and families.

You also know that its intended audience is

  • the general public
  • specifically, those who are considering going into aged care themselves
  • or their family members who are considering aged care for a loved one.

Once they’ve read the document, you want the reader to

  • feel reassured that Pacific Aged Care will look after them or their loved one,
  • feel confident that this is the right place for them to live, and
  • enquire further about Pacific Aged Care’s services and cost.

Knowing what’s expected of the document, it becomes clear that it needs to have a comforting and professional tone and be reassuring for families and individuals who are naturally feeling confused, conflicted or emotional at this time.

What’s been given to you to edit, however, is a collection of information from a whole lot of different people and documents (see below). It has no flow and the tone and detail are not suitable for the intended audience. So, it’s time to do the ‘marginal notes’ exercise. To see the documents in the case study, click here.

To see the ‘marginal notes cheat sheet’ click here.