What are you trying to achieve?
What is the purpose of your document? After reading it, what will your readers have to do?
What points must the document cover?
make a decision?
handle a certain situation?
solve a particular problem?
change their attitude towards something?
Decide on your message
Make a list or bubble diagram (see illustration) containing all the points you expect to make, in no particular order.
Cross out the irrelevant points.
Link the remaining points into related groups.
Fill any gaps in your knowledge: make a note of facts you will need to check and/or experts you will need to consult.
This approach applies to practically all non-literary texts: memos, reports, letters, user guides, etc. For formal documents such as legislation, specific drafting rules must be followed.
An alternative is the ‘7 questions’ approach.
This is a structured method of covering relevant information:
My essential message
Days, hours, timelines, deadlines
Causes and/or objective
Calculable and measurable data