How to Make Educational Writing Stronger

Photo of a woman, who seems to be mid-thought, looking upward, who is standing against a blackboard, and on the blackboard are drawn cartoonish, muscular arms posed to show off the big biceps. She is thinking big.
Remove the fluff and tighten up your message. (Photo: Viktoriya Malova)

Writing can be challenging, especially when you’re writing something that’s focused on education, such as textbooks, online courses, and educational video scripts.

The material must be informative, engaging, and easy to understand. Another challenge is that you have to put yourself in the shoes of the learner in order to figure out what will be the best way to educate her or him.

Here are a few ways to make your educational writing more effective:

Know Your Audience

You want the material to resonate with the students, so it’s important to understand them. This isn’t something you should rush through. You’ll find that research is also a great way to collect relevant data on the demographics of your audience.

Here are some questions you should answer about your intended audience members:

  • How old are they?
  • What’s their educational background?
  • What do they already know?
  • What’s their learning style?
  • Why are they learning this, and what do they hope to do with it?

Prioritize the Material

Start off by thinking about all the things you’re hoping to teach. Then prioritize these things and make a hierarchy. There’s no guarantee the reader will retain everything from your list—but if you’re clear about the few most important things, then you can focus on those.

A good way to do this is by repeating the most important points multiple times throughout the material because repetition helps with retention. However, you don’t want to repeat it verbatim—so come up with multiple ways to explain the same concept.

Make an Outline

Writing a detailed outline up front can save you a lot of time later in the project. This is the time to think about the order in which you’ll present the material.

When information is presented in smaller chunks, it’s typically easier to grasp and retain. The outline is a great place to start thinking about how you’ll break up the material.

Some writers don’t like outlines because they feel restrictive. These writers incorrectly believe that outlines remove flexibility—but that’s not true; you can always modify an outline as you’re working on the project.

Write Logically

Logic and consistency are important for educational writing. When learners see information that’s contradictory, they become skeptical of the material and the author.

Making your writing clear can also help here. Sometimes materials can look inconsistent when presented in a sloppy or confusing way. Using a straightforward style can help you avoid this.

Make It Practical

Most people retain information better when it’s presented in a practical way, so include examples, data, stories, diagrams, and similar tools. This helps to illustrate and reinforce the main concepts. It typically makes the material more interesting as well, which both students and teachers appreciate.

Another reason it’s easier to learn practical material is that it feels more relevant. None of us can remember everything we hear and read. Our brains are hardwired to remember things that are important and relevant to our lives.

Edit Well

This is your opportunity to remove fluff, tighten up your message, and make sure you’re communicating effectively. Editing can often be harder than writing the first draft because you have to comb through everything, word by word, while constantly tweaking, removing, and rewriting.

These tips will help you on any education project—from writing textbooks to designing curriculum. At Super Copy Editors, we’ve worked with education companies on a wide range of projects. Contact us today to learn more about our copy editing services.

Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I'm Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

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