Three examples of headings that builds expectation

This Writing Wednesday promotes a straightforward idea: Headings build expectations. Choose them wisely!

To illustrate the idea I ponder some of the more common headings in a project proposal and what they say.  Amazingly one often sees writing (at least at first draft stage) where the text does not live up to the expectation created by the heading.  While this sometimes relate to the content, quite often it relates to the “voice” of the text.

Example 1. Problem Statement

What do you expect? A statement, not an essay. If you cannot point to a short piece of writing that says exactly what the problem is, then you did not write a statement.

Example 2. Research Question

A section named Research Question requires a question, not a statement. One question, singular. Of course, you may specify multiple sub-questions, but they contribute to answering one primary question. And remember a question ends in a question mark!

Example 3. Research Objective

Note, it is a research objective. An objective represents a goal, an aim, something you strive to achieve. Note, an objective specifies what, not how. The research objective is closely related to the research question in that it specifies what you will achieve if you answer the research question.

Next time you write a section in a document, ask whether you met the basic expectation communicated by the headings you chose.


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