Book Review: Writing Effective Policies and Procedures

By Taylor, Sheila | Information Management, October 2001 | Go to article overview

Book Review: Writing Effective Policies and Procedures


Taylor, Sheila, Information Management


TITLE: Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: A Step-by-Step Resource for Clear Communication AUTHOR: Nancy J. Campbell ISBN: 0-8144-7960-X PUBLISHER: AMACOM PUBLICATION DATE: 1998 LENGTH: 397 pages PRICE: $68

SOURCE: ARMA International Bookstore at www.arma.org or 888-241-0598

Policies are guidelines regulating organizational action and controlling the conduct of people. Procedures describe the normal operating method and provide the protocol for implementation or the "how to." Both policies and procedures are required by organizations of all types to operate efficiently, avoid employee confusion, and adhere to legal and regulatory requirements.

Writing Effective Policies and Procedures by Nancy Campbell provides an excellent guide to creating policy and procedure documents that employees will read and use. "Policy and procedure writing is about clear communication," writes Campbell. "It's making sure that people have the information they need to do what they're supposed to be doing. With the right information and enough of it, both organization and reader function properly." This book walks the writer of any type of policy or procedure through the writing process step-by-step and provides pragmatic tools, examples, checklists, guidelines, quick tips, work plans, forms, and chapter summaries.

The author stresses the need to complete a development or planning process before actually beginning to write a policy or procedure. She outlines a four-step process consisting of 1) planning (identifying the tasks, the sequence and the deadlines); 2) analysis (identifying factors influencing the project such as the audience and the types of research required); 3) research (gathering all the information required, obtaining clarification, and resolving misunderstandings); and 4) prewriting (organizing the material to ensure it is complete, accurate, well-organized, and flows logically).

One chapter is devoted to each of the steps in the writing process. In the chapter entitled "What's the Best Way to Word This?" the author addresses the need for a writer to be both a "word miser" (e.g., eliminate unnecessary adjectives and use short words, sentences, and paragraphs) and a "word master" (someone who uses words with precision and respect and avoids such pitfalls as using sexist language and making grammatical errors). …

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