Transactional Writing: Everything You Need To Know

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This article contains information on everything you need to know about Transactional Writing.

Transactional Writing

The aim of every form of writing is to pass a message. This is usually between the writer and the audience/ readers as the case maybe. Transactional writing is one form of writing that informs, persuades, and above all communicates. It is non-fiction writing that passes information between individuals or groups of people. It may include business letters, emails, speeches, invitations and interviews.

Each of these types of transactional writing have their unique styles and features in terms of structure as well as tone. For instance, the style of writing an article is quite different from that of a speech.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE STARTING A TRANSACTIONAL WRITING

There are a lot of things to put into consideration before starting a transactional writing. They are as follows:

Genre

This has to do with the type of text you are being asked to write. For instance, is it a speech, an article, a letter, etc?  What are the features of that genre?

Your ability to answer these questions will help you to make proper plans before you commence writing.

Your Intended Audience (Reader)

The first thing to consider in writing is the audience even if it is one person. The approach differs for different audiences.

The Purpose of Your Writing

The purpose of a transactional writing can be to inform, persuade, advise or argue.

Sometimes, a transactional writing can contain more of these purposes. Hence, knowing your audience and purpose will help you to know the particular style of writing to use.

For Instance, if it’s a letter to a friend, you will definitely know that your style of writing will take an informal format with a relaxed and friendly tone but this cannot be for a formal letter.

TRANSACTIONAL WRITING GENRES AND THEIR CRITERIA

As earlier stated, transactional writing can be in the form of an article, speech, letter, etc. Each of these genres has various criteria and styles in which they are written.

We will be giving a brief overview on how each of them is written. So, let’s get started.

HOW TO WRITE AN ARTICLE

Article is a broad form of transactional writing that can be found on websites, newspapers and magazines. It is a piece of writing about a given topic that may range from 800-2000 words or more. An article can be written for or against a particular subject matter and other times, it can be from a balanced standpoint. Regardless of the topic, articles are written on numerous subjects such as; Entertainment, Sport, News, Lifestyle, Travel, History, etc.

STRUCTURE OF AN ARTICLE

Irrespective of the length, the structure of articles is standardized. The basic structure of an article either for a website, newspaper or magazine is usually in three main parts which are:

  • Heading and subheadings: Articles must have a heading and subheadings depending. The headline is usually catchy in a way that it grabs the attention of the readers and entices them to read the article till the very end.
  • Opening/Introduction: Following the headline is an introduction or opening. This part of the article introduces the topic in a way that it also grabs the attention of whoever is reading. It engages the reader by outlining the main point of the article. It is from here that the reader is exposed to what the article is all about.
  • Middle/ Body paragraphs: This part contains a series of paragraphs that provide more detail on each of the main points covered in the introductory part of the article.
  • Conclusion: This segment is another opportunity to take your readers back to all that is contained in the article as it sums the points together. In other words, you could use a structure in which the conclusion connects back to the introduction. In many cases, readers go through the conclusion of articles to ascertain all that is contained in an article.

LANGUAGE OF AN ARTICLE

The choice of language used to write an article is dependent on the purpose of writing and audience.

Therefore, to decide on the type of language or tone to be used in an article, the writer will be required to first identify the audience and purpose of writing.

Identifying this will enable the writer to use words/ registers that are in line with the topic. For instance, where an article is meant to be persuasive, words/tone used should be able to arouse emotion.

In line with the language used, articles are usually written in Standard English with a mix of literary devices such as metaphor and simile, personification, alliteration, etc. They make your writing more engaging and interesting.

LETTER WRITING

A letter is a form of text that is generally written to communicate to an individual most of the time and rarely to a group of people. This means that letters are basically written to an individual not a group of people but where the latter is the case, it is referred to as an open letter.

Before now, letters were written traditionally by hand and delivered through post offices in most cases. Recently, technology has given us many options for personal communication. Hence, messages can be sent through emails, text messages, chats via social media platforms, etc.

STRUCTURE OF A LETTER

A letter is structured mainly in two formats; the formal and informal structure. A formal letter has a conventional structure with the sender’s address on the top right hand corner while the recipient’s address is written on the left and slightly below it is the date.

Following the address includes the following:

  • Greeting or salutation
  • Introduction
  • Body of letter
  • Closing

Salutation

Like every formal letter, the greeting is always in a formal way. Therefore, you should address your letter to a specific person, using the salutation ‘

‘Dear xxxxx’

If you do not have a specific name to address, you will be required to use Sir/Madam. However, there are different ways to end a letter, depending on the method of salutation.

If you have named the recipient at the start, for Instance;

Dear Oparah,

it means your letter should  end with ‘Yours sincerely’ but in the case where you did not address the recipient  by name, for instance;

Dear Sir/Madam,

your letter should end with ‘Yours faithfully’

Introduction

After the salutation, the first paragraph of your letter is used to introduce yourself. Use the first one or two sentences of your letter to formally introduce yourself.

Body/Closing

This paragraph usually outlines the overall aim of the letter, while the closing paragraph summarizes the main points. Informal letters equally have the same structure but differ in the tone and language used.

LANGUAGE OF A LETTER

The language used in any type of letter will depend solely on the audience.

For instance, while formal letters, such as a cover letter for a job application, will have a very professional and official tone, an invitation letter to a wedding party will have a friendly and informal tone.

Emails are used for a variety of purposes these days, and even though they can still be used in some more formal contexts, in general, they are more conversational in tone than letters.

HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW

Transactional writing as seen above is not limited to only letter writing and articles, reviews are also part of transactional texts. Usually, when the word review is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the traditional book and movie reviews. There are many other types of reviews to consider. These days, reviews have gone beyond book and movie reviews down to reviews of products and services.

People however, make use of reviews to make informed decisions before going ahead to patronize entrepreneurs and Institutions such hotels, restaurants, vendors, etc.

STRUCTURE OF A REVIEW:

Not everyone knows how to write a review.

Usually, a review begins with an introduction of the thing being reviewed before the writer’s opinion in summary. Following this, is a detailed explanation as to why the writer has a given opinion which is backed up by references and is usually highlighted  in the review.

LANGUAGE OF A REVIEW

The language or tone used depends on the type of review. A review can be positive or negative. For a positive review, the writer usually goes for positive language  and vice versa. The aim is to engage better with the reader.

The goal of writing a review is to subtly influence the perception of  the reader with respect to what is being reviewed and this can be achieved by either the choice of adjectives used when writing.

In all, a review can either be for negative purposes or for positive reasons to criticize and recommend respectively.

HOW TO WRITE A SPEECH

This is one of the most technical forms of transactional writing. It is written for all types of events ranging from wedding/birthday party toasts to political campaign speeches.

The aim of writing speeches can be to inform, to persuade, to appeal, to instruct, or to entertain.

STRUCTURE OF A SPEECH

A speech often follows a three part structure:

  • a highly engaging and motivational opening. This is the part that determines whether your audience will be held spellbound till the end of the speech or whether they will lose interest in the speech even before the conclusion.
  • a well-structured argument with several main points. It is one thing to get the attention of the audience from the beginning and yet another thing to sustain the attention. The attention span of humans is very short. Therefore, your speech should be written in a way that captures the attention of the audience from the beginning and also sustains it till the end of the speech without sounding boring.
  • a dynamic and memorable conclusion. This determines the lasting impression your audience will have for a long duration. So, the conclusion is as important as the opening. Always remember to thank your listeners too.

LANGUAGE OF A SPEECH

The aim of written speech is to capture the attention of the audience. Therefore, the choice of language matters a lot. The speaker must be engaging and able to connect with the audience on the same emotional level.

A speech should be clear, as well as maintain a consistent point of view. In all, the language used varies depending on your audience. For instance, a speech presentation by a head girl on a valedictory service should be in formal language.

TIPS FOR GOOD TRANSACTIONAL WRITING

Knowing the different writings in this category may not be all that is required to successfully put together a transactional text. Thus, the following tips will help you to tackle any form of transactional writing successfully:

Sometimes, especially for students, you may not be told the type of transactional writing it is. It is therefore left for you to decipher which category it belongs to, from the prompt. So, in this case, first of all identify the type of writing. Is it a letter, speech, review or an article?

Who is your audience?

What is the purpose of the writing?

Once you identify these three things, you can then make a decision about the formality of your writing.  Failure to identify these things, there is no way you can use the appropriate language and style.

‘D A F O R R E S T’ is an acronym that every transactional writer is encouraged to put into consideration while writing.

The acronym simply stands for:

  • Direct Address
  • Anecdotes
  • Facts
  • Opinions
  • Repetition
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Emotion Language
  • Statistics
  • ​Triples (Three in a row)

Anecdotes

This involves the use of real life evidence to support your claims.

Facts

It is an error to write without verifiable facts. Doing these stairs doubt in the mind of your audience. Therefore, this is an important technique for persuasion which is usually backed up by Statistics for easier convincing.

Opinion

This refers to the sharing of a personal point of view. While it may not be appropriate to express a personal opinion in some cases, many types of transactional text would be incomplete without the inclusion of the writer’s opinion as in the case of an article, speech or even a review.

To avoid bringing up conflicts, it’s best to stick to statements of fact rather than an opinion.

Repetition & Rhetorical Questions

Repeating certain words or phrases is a technique used to highlight important ideas or messages worthy of note by the readers. On the other hand, Rhetorical questions are questions that are asked without expecting a direct answer. It is meant for the reader to answer privately or to think about the question. They are mostly used in speeches and persuasive texts.

Emotion Language & Exaggeration

This is a powerful tool of persuasion. It can be used to incite strong emotions in the reader.

Regardless of the type of feeling, writers often use this type of language to evoke a desired reaction in the reader and incite them to take a particular course of action.

In a situation where a writer is speaking about the insecurity issues in a given country, he can get readers on his side through the use of emotion language.

For instance;

For years we have hoped and prayed for change and out of desperation to get this desired change, we always play into the wrong hands.  Every day our youths are murdered in cold blood, our women are brutally raped and yet, those who promised us change walk freely like nothing is happening. Nowhere is safe anymore. This is certainly not the change we bargained for.

Reading the example above, whatever course of action the writer wants the audience to take will certainly be achieved at ease due to the emotion languages at play.

Exaggeration is sometimes known as hyperbole and it refers to the making of intentionally over-the-top statements to increase the magnitude of an argument.

Statistics

Statistics are used as supporting facts.

Example: 60% of school children perform woefully because they don’t have access to good books and teacher-student relationships.

The Rule of Threes

The human brain loves patterns because they help us make meaning in a memorable way. So, this technique appeals to the readers as well as plays on their emotions.

For example,

Promo, Promo, Promo, “Cool, calm, collected”

 CONCLUSION

As earlier stated, transactional writing  covers a wide range of genres, purposes, and varying audiences. As a result of this, the skills required may differ for the various types of text.

Hence, to write transactional texts, you need to put into consideration all that has been  mentioned in this article starting from  identifying the type of writing, your audience and purpose of writing.

Doing this will give you an insight to plan on the successful technique to employ, using DAFORREST as a guide.

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Leonel Schuster
Leonel Schuster

Kathryn has been Teacher at Alliant International University since 2013. He began to write about admission details at Course Discovery.

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