Title: Write Right: Give the 'Key Points' Style a Try

Release Date: 2017-09-13

Document Date: 2005-10-25

Description: Using bullets to make your key points, rather than just paragraphs, can make your report more readable and easier to understand.

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(U//FOUO) Write Right: Give the 'Key Points' Style a Try
FROM:
of the Reporting Board (S12A)
Run Date: 10/25/2005

(U//FOUO) In this world of information overload, when you have
too much to do and too little time to do it,
How can I get my reader's attention?
What can I do to make my reports easier to understand?
How can I bring the critical points up front?
(U//FOUO) This month's column is a shameless plagiarism of
previous writings and discussions of an excellent reporting
technique: Key Points. Symbols, indented subparagraphs and
white space (skipping a line between the bullets) add to the
product's readability and grab the reader's attention.
(C) You may be familiar with this style from reports issued by
GCHQ , which began experimenting with key points in 1996. In an
attempt to expand their readership to a higher-level customer set,
especially their London policy-makers, GCHQ's (then) M Group
began to replace their traditional summary paragraphs with a "Key
Points" section. Customer feedback was positive and constructive,
and now the style is common in a majority of GCHQ reports.
(C) Though the number of key points varies from one to many, the
purpose is to highlight the important facts. Formatting instructions
are found in USSID CR1400 (formerly USSID 300) in Section 5.19,
Bullets and Sub-Bullets.
(S//SI) Tips for using key points/bullets:
Include an introductory sentence or two before listing the
summary's key points. (This differs from GCHQ's approach
where the summary consists of the list of key points.) The
introductory information could include general attribution
and a description of an event, such as: "Following an early
January meeting between Czech and French Foreign
Ministers, ..."
Anything in SIGINT that breaks naturally into a list is an
ideal candidate report for key points/bullets. Possibilities
include:
Talking Points
Itineraries and Travel Plans
Results of meetings or discussions
Proposals or demands
Once the key points or bullets are outlined in the summary,
carry them down into the text as subheadings. This way,
you've told the reader what the highlights are, now follow
through and organize your details in a similar manner.
Don't force key points or bullets in the Summary. Let the
product content or length dictate whether or not you use
key points.

SERIES:
(U) Write Right '05
1. Write Right : Too
Much Redundancy is
Redundant
2. Write Right -SIGINT Myths: The
Traffic Fairy
3. Write Right : There
Is No Index of
Forbidden Words
4. Write Right :
Avoiding SIGINTisms
5. Write Right : A Note
on Validity Wording
6. Write Right : Brevity
Can Impede Clarity
(or, A Capital
Situation)
7. Write Right :
Opening the Traffic
Fairy's Packages
8. Write Right :
Management Theory
Applied to Reporting
9. Write Right : Give
the 'Key Points' Style
a Try
10. Write Right : Still
More on the Traffic
Fairy

Don't hesitate to use bullets as an alternative to full text
paragraphs within the details (the body of the report).
(U) Give it a try and ask your customers what they think!

"(U//FOUO) SIDtoday articles may not be republished or reposted outside NSANet
without the consent of S0121 (DL sid_comms)."

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DERIVED FROM: NSA/CSSM 1-52, DATED 08 JAN 2007 DECLASSIFY ON: 20320108

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