How to Write a Briefing Paper: Full Guide
A briefing paper conveys information on a particular topic concise, organized way. Politicians, decision makers, and policymakers typically use it to educate other politicians and government officials on a topic before making decisions or proposing solutions. The main goal is to address an issue, persuade others to join in and/or offer a solution to a problem. Writing a briefing paper can be difficult if you have never done it before, but luckily this guide will help you along the way!
What is a briefing paper?
A briefing paper is a short document that summarizes the main points of a longer document. It may be written for internal or external audiences and typically contains information related to objectives, background, methodology, and key findings. This type of document also usually offers a proposed solution or recommendations for the presented problem, and on how to address the issues. It also summarizes an issue and identifies key pieces of information like a situation that needs to be addressed and the financial implications.
A briefing paper is usually written by someone within an organization who has been assigned to summarize their research findings in a shorter format. This can be done as part of a larger project or independently. Briefing papers often include some detail on how the data was collected and analyzed but focus primarily on providing information about how you reached your conclusions.
Purpose of a Briefing Document
The purpose of a briefing document is to help decision-makers understand complex issues and make informed decisions. It should be concise, clear, accurate, and objective. Briefing papers may also contain recommendations for action or further research into the topic.
Steps in Writing a Briefing Document
The following steps are essential in writing a briefing paper.
Step 1: Summarize Key Information
The first step in writing a briefing paper is summarizing the key points. This can be not easy, especially if you are new to this type of writing. If you’ve never done it before, it might seem like there’s no way to sum up, all of the useful information into a coherent document. However, using these next steps will help:
- Read through your document and highlight anything that seems important or interesting.
- Remove any words that aren’t necessary to understand the point being made by the highlighted selection (for example: “the” or “and”).
- Write down one sentence per highlighted selection that summarizes its purpose and meaning in one sentence; these should be written on separate pieces of paper, so they’re easier for later reference when creating your briefing paper structure outline (more on this later).
Step 2: Verify Details
Next, verify the accuracy of the information. This involves verifying that each fact and detail is correct. This is where you will want to ensure that your sources are credible and reputable. You can do this by checking with an expert or another source who has access to the same data as you do so that they can verify your research for you.
Thirdly, make sure that your statistics are accurate; this includes dates, percentages, numbers, etc.
Fourthly, check over any data that has been provided for consistency and accuracy (e.g., did they provide five different kinds of facts when there should only be four types listed?).
Finally, check through all references carefully, so there are no errors in them either (e e g – websites).
Step 3: Propose Alternatives
Now that you have a clear vision of what your briefing paper should include, it is time to decide on an alternative. To do this effectively, think about each alternative’s pros and cons. For example, if you are writing a briefing paper about whether or not the company should expand into Asia, one alternative could be “Yes.” Under this alternative, you would consider the benefits and drawbacks of expanding into Asia.
Step 4: Do Quality Control
At this stage, you have a lot of control over what happens next. You can correct spelling and grammar errors, check for consistency in the content, and make sure that everything is written and relevant to your audience.
You may also want to look up data sources or facts that are relevant to your topic, so they’re accurate, but be careful not to get distracted by minutiae! You don’t want to waste too much time finding obscure sources when there’s already plenty of good material on hand.
Step 5: Edit and Proofread Carefully
The next step is to edit and proofread your paper. Please have a friend or colleague read through it and double check for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure that the grammar is correct, the logical flow of the paper is good, consistency of style is maintained throughout, clarity of writing has been achieved (so that people understand what you are trying to say without having to re-read paragraphs), and format of headings(title page, etc.) is maintained throughout the whole document.
By the same token, make sure there aren’t key pieces of information missing that are necessary to make your argument clear and convincing. You may need to swap out one piece of information for another. Try to put yourself in the shoes of a politician or bureaucrat as you edit.
Format of the Briefing Papers
The format of briefing papers should be formal and consistent but not overly scientific or technical. You should write the paper in a clear, concise, logical, and organized manner.
The following items are used to structurally organize the content of your briefing paper:
- Name Identification of the audience for the paper;
- Date of preparation;
- Contact for the briefing note: Mention your contact information, including mobile number and email ID;
- Subject/issue: A concise sentence stating the significance of the briefing note. Use clear, concise sentences to explain the issue(s) at hand clearly and directly.
- Background: Provide context and information regarding past events. You can include previously taken courses of action;
- Current status: Explanation of current situation, the people involved, the decision made, etc.;
- Essential information: Summarize crucial facts, developments, and key considerations in an unbiased manner. Provide evidence and double-check your facts.
- Options/recommendations: Share the pros and cons of the options and provide any clear, direct, and evidence-based recommendations;
- Conclusion: Reinforce the main of the briefing document.
What is Included?
A briefing paper is an important document that describes what is required, how you should do the task, and any other information required. It should include all the relevant details of a project or situation so that people can understand what they have to do and why.
While there are many forms, briefing papers are typically written in an outline format and usually do not exceed two pages. A writer must explain an issue in enough detail so that a reader gains a full understanding in a few pages. here are some questions to consider when sitting down to write the briefing
A briefing paper should contain:
1. Be Wise as You Determine the Scope
This will help you decide what information is essential for your readers and what can be left out.
You’ll want to consider the following questions:
- What are the key points that need to be made? These could include facts, opinions, or conclusions on an issue.
- What purpose does this piece serve for its audience? Is it informational or persuasive (or both)? If it’s persuasive, who do you want to persuade—and why?
- Who will read and use this briefing paper? Are they experts in your field of study or laypeople who aren’t familiar with it?
2. Know Your Audience
It’s important to determine the needs, interests, and expectations of the people reading your briefing paper. You should also consider limitations, constraints, and budget. When writing the document, your audience may have a particular decision-making process that you need to follow. Finally, it’s important to know communication preferences to ensure that your briefing paper can be easily read by everyone involved in this process.
3. Plan Key Points
When you write a briefing paper, it’s important to plan your key points before you start writing. This process aims to organize your thoughts on paper without getting distracted by the details. This way, you’ll be able to stay on topic and avoid rambling or repeating yourself. You’ll also be able to easily identify missing information and correct errors.
4. Consider Using a Template
Templates can help you get started on the right track and ensure that all of the information is included in your briefing paper.
5. Consider a Summary Section
After you’ve written all of the other sections and reviewed them, it’s time to write your summary section. The summary is a brief overview of the entire paper, written in a different style than the rest of the document. It should be no more than three paragraphs long and serve as an introduction to your briefing paper. After all, readers may not have read all or most of your briefing paper if they are just getting started—they’ll need an overview before they dive into reading it in full detail!
6. Craft an Engaging Introduction
The introduction is the first paragraph of your document, and it’s important to write an engaging one. It should be short and to the point: no flowery language or long-winded explanations here. Instead, focus on giving readers a clear idea of what you’re about to discuss in your briefing paper.
7. Outline the Fundamental Facts/Background
The next step is to outline your topic’s fundamental facts and background. This will include a brief history of the situation and any relevant information about its context, its historical roots, or any other relevant background information.
8. Exclude Your Opinions
You won’t be able to get away with including your own opinion in a briefing paper. This is because it’s not a personal essay or a blog post but rather an official document representing your organization and company. Therefore, you don’t want to give the impression that anyone can send their opinion into the world and have it impact others.
It’s also important to avoid being biased or overly opinionated when writing a briefing paper; this would make your argument less reliable and less credible than if it were objective and unbiased. Try to write without preconceived notions about what you think should happen next. Rather than saying something like “I believe…” (which sounds more like an opinion), try using phrases such as “this study shows…” or “according to research…” instead (which sounds more objective).
Writing Tips for Effective Briefing Documents
The following tips will help you write an effective briefing document:
1 Keep It Brief
Your briefing paper should be concise. Unless you’re writing a dissertation or other lengthy academic work, you should keep brevity in mind when writing your briefing paper. You can ensure that your briefing paper is concise by keeping the following tips in mind:
- Use shorter sentences. Shorter sentences are easier to read and understand than longer ones, so using them will help make your briefing paper more concise (and less boring!). Similarly, avoid long paragraphs; instead, break up large sections into smaller ones whenever possible.
- Use bullet points instead of paragraphs for lists or other topics that would benefit from being broken down into multiple parts—this makes for easy reading and increases comprehension for readers who might not otherwise be interested in the topic at hand.
2. Use Concise Language
Using simple words and short sentences and avoiding jargon is important in briefing papers. Using simple language that your readers can easily understand is better than using long sentences. Many people may find it difficult to understand technical terms and abbreviations used in briefings, so it is advisable not to use them only when necessary. Also, try not to repeat the same thing repeatedly, as this will make your writing sound monotonous and boring.
Keep in mind that while your paper may be addressed to a certain person, others may read it also–staffers, colleagues, and even the media. This is a good reason to keep your writing as informative and accessible as possible, even if your intended reader has some knowledge of the topic.
3. Use an Easy-to-Follow Format
To make your briefing paper easy to follow, you need to use a logical format. This means that you should use a template that has sections such as:
- Introduction (why this paper is important)
- Body (the details)
- Conclusion (what it means)
4. Avoid Speculation
Writing a briefing paper doesn’t mean you need to speculate or make assumptions. When writing, avoid making predictions and guesses about the future. Also, don’t use vague language like “maybe” or “I think” because this leads readers to question your credibility as an author and communicator. To ensure that your readers trust what you say in the paper, stick to what is known for sure, not what might happen or how things may turn out.
Sample Briefing Document
Looking for examples of briefing papers/notes? This sample briefing document is an example of a good briefing paper. It is a fully-developed document that has been written by one of our senior writers, and it covers all the essential elements of a good briefing paper. You can use this as a guide to help you write your briefing document.
Writing a briefing paper is not much different from crafting a professional-grade email to your colleagues. There are certain times when you’ll need to put in a bit more effort, but it’s still all the same basic principles of communication that are at play. Sometimes, it feels like this type of document is outdated and unnecessary, but people still rely on them for key information and updates. So, even if you don’t have to write one often enough to get good at it right away, you should develop a skill. They still serve an important purpose in many industries today!
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