Course Outcomes

This policies and procedures writing course will:

  • Offer best practices for crafting clear written rules, guidelines, and other business documents.
  • Explain the elements all policy and procedure documents should contain.
  • Propose a process for identifying document requirements.
  • Give guidance on using templates.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for participants to practice their writing.

Course Overview

Policies and procedures communicate expectations and explain how organizations should conduct their operations. The larger the organization and more regulated the industry, the greater the need for a system of documenting what should be done and how. This workshop focuses on the skills needed to write good policy and procedure documents.

Course participants will spend the bulk of their time learning how to craft easy-to-read and concise text. From step-by-step instructions to binding documents that a regulating agency may review for completeness, this program provides multiple writing opportunities.

During this hands-on workshop, participants will discuss the difference between a policy and a procedure, explore best practices for establishing a system for keeping documents consistent and up to date, and practice a process for identifying the information that should be included in the rules and guidelines they write.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Explain the difference between a policy and procedure and when to use each.
  • Describe the value of consistency and its importance of developing and following document standards.
  • Identify requirements before writing a policy or procedure.
  • Organize information logically.
  • Craft clear and easy-to-understand policy and procedure documents.
  • Choose simple language in favor of jargon and inaccessible vocabulary.
  • Demonstrate when and how to use an off-the-shelf template.
  • Systematically review their documents for timeliness and accuracy.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline

The Great Divide: What Separates Policies from Procedures

This program opens with a discussion about the purposes of policies and procedures and the differences between the two. In this part of the workshop, participants will also share what they intuitively know about writing good guidance documents. Following that exercise, we will surface any challenges participants have with written English and add them to the session’s agenda.

Consistency Counts: Establishing a System

This course continues with a discussion about systems and best practices for writing documents that are easily identifiable as policies or procedures belonging to the organization. We’ll talk about such mechanics as formatting requirements, numbering systems, approval processes, and accessibility issues. During this seminar segment, we’ll also discuss the importance of using a purpose statement, headings, bullet points, and a common vocabulary that all intended readers will understand. To reinforce the segment’s learning points, participants will review a range of documents and identify their strengths as well as areas that could be improved to enhance the text’s readability.

What I’m Trying to Say: Identifying Requirements

Policy and procedure writing can quickly go from bad to worse when writers don’t know exactly what they’re trying to say. This course component looks at the stages of policy development (identifying needs, gathering information, drafting, reviewing, and revising), and the importance of asking questions and outlining a plan before putting pen to paper. During this part of the program, we will also examine the steps procedure writers should follow as they document operating standards. Working through several examples, participants will then practice mapping both policy and procedures.

Avoiding Ambiguity: Plain and Simple 

Complex guidelines don’t equal a requirement for complicated language. In fact, readers will often get confused when a writer chooses jargon, long words, and long sentences over more direct language. This central part of the program focuses on the skills writers need to communicate information in such a way that little room is left for misinterpretation. After reviewing several best practices and “before” and “after” examples, participants will attempt a policy or procedure makeover. In this activity, they will take an existing document that requires some work, and cut, edit, and revise as needed to align its appearance with what they understand to be best in class. 

Off-the-Shelf Help: Templates and Canned Text

Templates can be a terrific help or a temptation to cut corners. This workshop segment shares advice for using templates without abusing them. In this portion of the course, participants will work through an exercise where they start with a template and edit it to meet their organization’s needs. This activity will illustrate the importance of making deliberate choices and avoiding text that adds no value.

Starting from Scratch: Show What You Know

The best way to learn how to write is to write. This course component offers that opportunity. Working in teams, during this part of the course the group will create a policy, procedure, or another relevant business document from the ground up. They will map the process, draft a document, test it on members of the class, and revise it based on the feedback they receive.

Staying Current: Keeping Information Up to Date

Great information that is out of date is not great information. Policies and procedure documents need owners and routine evaluations. This final part of the workshop reviews best practices for keeping information current. Following that discussion, participants will determine the actions they will put in place to improve their writing and document-assessment processes.

By the end of this writing course, participants should have a better command of the skills required to write clear and easy-to-read policy and procedure documents.