The phrase ‘fit for purpose’ indicates that something is of good enough quality and design that it does what it’s meant to do. Almost anything can be described as being fit (or not fit) for purpose, from products to services, processes, information and entire systems.
The concept of fit for purpose is often associated with consumer protection law, where buyers may be entitled to a refund or replacement on a manufactured item that doesn’t (or can’t) do what it’s supposed to do.
To determine whether something is fit for purpose, it must first be clear what the ‘purpose’ is. What are you intending to use the product for? The same applies to writing. All writing has a purpose or particular objective for a specific audience.
If you’re clear on that purpose from the start, it is easier to establish a direction and shape the content through appropriate voice, tone and structure. This, in turn, makes the content more effective; it helps readers understand it, why they might be interested in it, and how they should respond.
Writing with purpose can be associated with measurable outcomes, such as purchases, donations or task completion, with clear calls to action to support these. There are of course many other reasons for writing: to entertain, educate, instruct, record, persuade, inspire, share, explain, etc. The outcomes or engagement for some styles of writing might be less measurable, but no less important. These may include laughter, compassion, reflection, debate, understanding and motivation.
Ultimately, writing can be boiled down to three main purposes, or a combination of these: to inform, to persuade and to entertain. By constantly keeping the purpose in mind, as well as the core subject matter, you will ensure that your writing is ‘fit for purpose’.
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