- Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
- Available in: Paperback, eBook
- ISBN: 978-1421422268
- Published: April 16, 2017
Students and professionals across a variety of disciplines need to write public policy in a manner that inspires action and genuine change. You may have amazing ideas about how to improve the world, but if you aren’t able to communicate these ideas well, they simply won’t become reality. In Public Policy Writing That Matters, communications specialist David Chrisinger argues that public policy writing is most persuasive when it tells clear, concrete stories about people doing things. Combining helpful hints and cautionary tales with writing exercises and excerpts from sample policy documents, Chrisinger teaches readers to craft concise, story-driven pieces that exceed the stylistic requirements and limitations of traditional policy writing.
Too often, public policy writing is convoluted, opaque, and exclusive. Chrisinger, who teaches introductory policy writing courses around the country, offers a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in planning, organizing, developing, writing, and revising accessible public policy. From the most effective use of data visualization, the best way to write a sentence, and the ideal moment to add a compelling anecdote to advice on using facts to strengthen an argument, this little book, inspired by Strunk & White’s classic style guide, will allow anyone crafting public policy to make a bigger impact. Aimed at helping students and professionals overcome their default impulses to merely “explain,” this book reveals proven, classroom-tested tips for writing sophisticated policy that is also easy to understand.
This practical, concise handbook will not only aid students throughout graduate school, but will also remain a reference to consult throughout their professional careers. A vital tool for any policy writer or analyst, Public Policy Writing That Matters is a book for everyone passionate about using writing to effect real and lasting change.
Advanced Praise from David’s Students:
Adam Zoellner — Health Policy Analyst at MITRE:
Dave’s writing class showed the basic elements needed for solid policy memos. Before his class, I wrote with too much confusion and fluff. Now, I think twice before flooding a paper with adjectives or flowery language. In today’s fast-paced policy world, you need to write fast and clear. Thanks, Dave!
Vinny Cannizzaro — Diversity Specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine:
I finished my undergrad with very little writing experience. After working for the last few years, I felt uneasy jumping back into a graduate program that has a heavy focus on writing. After our workshops with David, I feel confident in my writing skills. David broke down a complex process into simple ideas that can be reapplied and reworked over and over again. I am so grateful for David’s help and I feel more prepared for my degree.
Keara Castaldo — The Pew Charitable Trusts:
Many people teach the mechanics of grammar, but even practiced writers can benefit from honing their communication strategies. David taught us not simply the science of good writing, but with it the art of coherent and logical thinking. His techniques have broad applications — from correspondence to issue briefs to research memorandum — and have benefited both my academic and professional writing.
Ariana Bengtsson — Analyst at Abt Associates:
David’s instruction helped make my transition from undergraduate studies to graduate studies a smooth one. Even with a background in policy studies, David’s lessons helped me to develop my policy writing from undergraduate quality to graduate and professional quality. I really liked that he stressed the importance of sentence structure, which is often forgotten in higher level writing courses.
Rachel Keller Landis
I found David’s course extremely helpful. I consider myself to be a strong writer, but I did not know how to structure a policy report. Before his course, I didn’t even know that policy writing is fundamentally different from the academic writing I did in college and at my previous job. I got so much out of his course!
I walked out of door on day three of David’s class a policy memo-writing machine, but it wasn’t until recently that I understood the gravity of what he taught us. Faced with a variety of writing assignments in my graduate program, I realize now that I learned more about writing in those three days with David than I did in 27 years of life. For that, I am forever thankful!
Learning David’s method was incredibly helpful to prepare for writing at a graduate level. Having been out of the academic world for a few years, I needed a way to simplify my writing and ease back into clear and concise communication. David led us through a simple process from organizing our ideas, to writing, to editing out unnecessary content. I highly recommend his method.
David offers an un-intimidating methodology for policy-writing brainstorming and outlining that I will practice in my academic and professional work. His step-by-step breakdowns of paragraph structure and sentence structure are basic without being dumbed-down, and I will apply his techniques to both my policy work as well as to many other styles of writing.
When David taught us a new brainstorming method for policy writing — Condition, Criteria, Cause and Effect — I had a hard time getting used to this new method of thinking. However, when our first policy writing assignment came in, I used the method to create a concise and persuasive document. Turns out, I nailed the assignment and my classmates all wanted to know what I did to create such a well-balanced document. I continue to use the method and it gets easier each time.