54 Cover Sheet Review

Ok, let’s take a closer sheet at the purpose and design of the cover sheet, a prewriting technique used to analyze your audience, your purpose and your direction.

First of all, the Cover Sheet is broken into three sections: Reader/Audience;Writer/Sender and Content/Design.

The Reader/Audience section has to look at your topic from your reader’s perspective. When it says “Prior knowledge of subject,” that means what is the reader’s knowledge of your topic before he/she begins to read your document? You have to know this because it will help you develop your paper. You will know what material is necessary and what material is obvious, unnecessary.

For instance, with the Letter of Inquiry, you’re writing to a company about its product. Obviously, the company is very familiar with the product, so you don’t need to give lots of background information. If you were from the company and writing to potential customers, then you would have to use lots more background because the reader’s knowledge is not that good.

You need to know the reader’s attitude, both toward the subject and toward you. Again, it’s sometimes obvious that the reader doesn’t know you as a person, but he/she knows you as the writer of this document. What is he thinking about you before he even starts to read? Analyze that. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Know how he/she is going to respond.

So everything between Reader/Audience and Writer/Sender is reader-oriented. The Writer/Sender section simply helps you recognize what you’re doing and why, gives your own position importance. The Content/Design section helps you think about how you might want to display your information. Remember, we’re not writing the same kind of document each time. Each one requires different kinds of design techniques.

The lines above the Reader/Audience section are for to identify yourself. Organization: means which organization are you writing from? Is it personal, or is it one of the two organizations you described in your opening assignment?

Also, keep your design of this document in mind. How does it look, visually? Boldface heading, indent subheadings. Make it look professional. Although, I don’t grade the Cover Sheet, it can influence your overall grade for an assignment (I take one point off if it’s not handed in). So spend some quality time on this important prewriting technique. Thanks.

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Technical Writing by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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