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writing to advise

atwood writer quotation

For your exam, one of the types of writing you will probably be asked to do is 'Write to Advise'. This is very similar to Writing to Explain and Writing to Inform (which are covered on other parts of this web site - see the links above).

  • This kind of writing used to be called expository writing.

For your course, you will be asked to write about a real-world task such as, 'Write an article for your school magazine in which you advise its readers how they could... welcome newcomers/lead healthier lives/lead greener lives', etc.

When you are asked to write to advise, your purpose is:

  • to provide interesting and informative guidance on a topic specified in the exam question.

  • to do so in a way that is suited to a specified type of audience.

  • to show you know the conventions of the form required, e.g. a letter or an article.

When deciding on what mark or grade to give, an examiner will be looking for specific aspects within your writing:

  • Is it catchy and interesting?

    • Any heading you choose will be very important here.

    • The opening sentence is also crucial to achieving this. Dare to be different and... be original!

  • Is its style and tone appropriate for its audience and purpose?

    • You'll need to write in a way that sounds 'inviting' and 'friendly'.

    • Take care, though. It's best to avoid using a style that is overly informal. Stick mainly to formal standard English but use some informal expressions of the kind that will appeal to your audience.

  • Is the tone authoritative?

    • When giving advice in an article, your audience will absolutely expect you to sound as if you know what you are talking about. Work hard at achieving this.

  • Has it supplied what its audience needs to know regarding the key 'advice questions', i.e. who, what, why, where, when and how?

    • These are the questions a journalist answers in a newspaper article but they apply equally to writing to advise.

  • Is the help and advice given sufficient and appropriate?

    • No one wants to be bored by excessive advice. Take care that what you write is sufficient and necessary.

  • Is it clear, i.e. can its audience follow and understand it easily?

    • This is very important for your marks.  Your choices of vocabulary, of sentence style and length as well as the way you paragraph and set out the advice are all important. Ask yourself some questions as you think about what to write. Would subheadings be useful? Perhaps a bulleted list or a diagram?

  • Is its content balanced and fair?

    • This will depend on the topic you have been asked to write about but people like to feel advice is not too one sided so make sure you cover different points of view.

Some useful tips


Techniques for writing to advise

Vary your Sentences!

This applies to all writing but, in order to capture your readers interest and attention - and to hold onto it - vary the opening and the structure of your sentences.

Interesting writing is built from varied sentences. Look at the following. It certainly seems to be a good example of 'Writing to Advise'. What do you think?

Out of every hundred of us who manage to puff our way through twenty cigarettes a day, over a quarter of us will die early because we have chosen to smoke cigarettes. Of course, we all have lots of reasons why we smoke: it's part of my scene; it's makes me feel cool; it keeps my weight down... Blah, blah, blah... Now look, we know it's bad for us. Not just bad - it's eventually truly awful. So, let's look at some ways we can cut down or stop smoking...

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