Last time, we talked about planning your writing by thinking carefully about your readers, and the next step in planning is to consider purpose. Certainly, as writers we should have a purpose: a concrete goal in mind that they wish to accomplish via the writing. This goal should go beyond, “My purpose is to write this report.” Ideally, you should think carefully about what you wish to accomplish via the report; that is, what action do you want your readers to take after they’ve read the report? Do you want them to contact you, give the report to someone else, use the report to make a decision? For any of these, also think carefully about outcome; that is, if they do contact you, what do you want the outcome to be? Whatever the outcome you envision, you need to ensure that you’ve carefully considered that when planning your purpose. Too often, writers don’t take the time to think about the outcome and thus, the conclusion that the reader comes to may not be what they envision. I liken it to professional athletes; many professional athletes visualize an outcome—what they hope to accomplish and they actually see themselves being successful. Technical and scientific writing are much the same: writers who envision an outcome are going to be more likely to plan for that outcome. So, when planning your writing, plan your outcome!