Writing as a Plural: How to Write for an Organization

Guest Post by Lauren Phillips ’16

249432_178092235580846_123050844418319_443758_4138351_nAs a continuation of Writing Week, today’s guest post is by Lauren Phillips who discusses the idea of writing as a “we” and outlines tips for writing within an organizational context. 

For professional writers, the idea of individual authorship is little more than a fantasy. Many professional writers are never credited as the creators of texts, though they may write hundreds of documents. Professional writers often produce documents that represent an entire organization, or a group of people, or sometimes a single individual. But employed professional writers rarely write as themselves. In their organizational writings, professional writers rarely use “I” and other first-person pronouns. “We,” “us,” and other plural first-person pronouns are much more common.


Professional writers must do more than use a different set of pronouns, though. They must also incorporate the values and goals of their client organization into every text they produce for that organization. Many organizations may also have a large collection of texts—a canon—into which new texts must fit. It is the writer’s job to create a text that mimics the organization’s tone and voice, maintains its goals and values, and fits into the multiple contexts that surround it, all while accomplishing the purpose of that individual text.

I spent the summer of 2013 as an intern in the marketing department of a small publishing firm. In such a small organization, each employee took on many roles, so I found myself working on several projects unrelated to marketing. Every document I wrote for the organization had to follow an established tone and, though I struggled to conform my voice to that of the organization’s, by the end of the summer I was able to produce texts that fit into the organization’s canon. Below, I have listed the steps professional writers should take when they begin to write for an organization.

 1.      Do Your Research

Read other texts the organization has produced—the more the better. Pay attention to style, conventions, vocabulary, tone, and voice. Every rhetoric choice was made for a reason, so take notes. Talk to your supervisors and other coworkers to learn more about what the organization seeks to accomplish.

 2.      Know the Context

Work to make yourself comfortable with the purpose of each text you produce. Your documents must accomplish its goals, otherwise there is no point in writing it. Get comfortable going to your supervisors or veteran writers for advice—it’s better to ask many questions and get it right than to ask none and produce an ineffective document.

 3.      Be Proud of Your Drafts

Make the first draft something you can be proud of. Don’t submit a sloppy piece of work to your supervisor and rely on his or her revisions to fix it. Make revisions yourself, before you submit it. You’ll impress your supervisor and learn how to edit your own writing, both of which will benefit you. That being said…

pen 4.      Incorporate Changes

Be willing to take suggestions and make changes based on the edits your supervisor makes. He or she is more familiar with the organization, so take any edits seriously. You may have to sacrifice your own writing style, but remember that you’re writing as an organization, not as yourself.

This list is intended to be a recommendation—each organization has its own context and rules. But writers must be flexible, and this list can serve as a guide for writers as they familiarize themselves with writing for an organization.

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