Step 2: Categorize information by type and purpose

Information is easiest to find and understand when it is categorized based on its purpose for the audience. This table describes six distinct Information Types that account for 80 to 90 percent of the content of most business communications.

categorize

Information types

This is an overview of the six Information Types.

Information TypeDescription
Procedure A set of steps that a person performs to accomplish a task.
Process A series of events or stages that occurs over time and has a specific result.
Principle A statement that dictates behavior, such as a rule, policy, or guideline.
Fact A statement that is assumed to be true.
Concept An abstract idea that needs to be defined or explained.
Structure A physical representation of parts and boundaries, including charts, diagrams, pictures, and graphical representations of relationships.

TIP!

Create a list of topics for your document by considering what your audience needs to know about each Information Type.

Ask these questions:

  • Have you identified the procedures your readers need to perform? 
  • Have you determined what they need to know in order to perform successfully?
  • Have you separated “nice to know” from “need to know” information?