Pyramid principle


How much do I want to read more? 7/10

I like it. This book put much effort into the writing so that the reading comes smoothly.
It looks like my own philosophy: put more effort on the writing, so that the reader put less effort into the reading. It makes sense, one writer for x readers.
Plus, if it takes additional effort for the writer, it will also improve his style, and make hime a better thinker, with a clearer mind.


Preface

This book proposes to tell you how to use The Pyramid Principle to write a clear business document.
The demands of logic and the limitations of a reader's ability to take in information dictate that this structure will always be pyramidal in shape.

Part One will both explain this principle and show you how to use it to build a beginning pyramid.
Part Two will show you how to use your knowl- edge of the pyramid rules to look critically at this structure, find its logical flaws, and push your thinking creatively so that you end up saying pre- cisely what you mean.

The pyramid principle

1 - Logic in writing

Introduction

One of the least pleasant aspects of a professional person's job is the need to put things in writing.
The reason most people don't improve is that they assume that writing more clearly means writing simpler, more direct sentences.
But these are weaknesses of style, It requires a good many repetitive exercises. As a result, they continue to be told they need to write 'more clearly.'

However, there is a second cause of unclear writing, far more pervasive than the first, and much easier to correct. This relates to the structure of the document.

Why a pyramid structure?

The person who seeks to learn what you think about a particular subject by reading what you have to say about it faces a complex task.
He must take in each sentence, digest them, relate them, and hold them together.

Sorting into pyramids

The mind will group together any series of items that it sees as having a 'common fate' - because they share similar characteristics.
the mind cannot hold more than about seven items in its short-term memory at any one time.
when the mind sees the number of items with which it is being presented begin to rise above four or five, it starts to group them into logical categories so that they can be retained.

Dairy products:

Fruit:

Vegetables:

The need to state the logic

This means that instead of remembering each of the nine items, you remember only the three categories into which they fall. You are thinking one level of abstraction higher.
All mental processes (e.g., thinking, remembering, problem solving) apparently utilize this grouping and summarizing process, so that the information in a person's mind might be thought of as being organized into one giant conglomeration of related pyramids.

Now we come to the real problem of communicating. You can 'see' these groupings of items quite clearly. To communicate them means to ensure that the other person 'sees' them in the same way.
Surely, the most efficient way to do this would be to present the category first and then the items. That is, to order the ideas from the top down.

Ordering from the top down