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Develop and improve your written communication skills

Develop and improve your written communication skills

 Develop and improve your written communication skills

Welcome to the AIB Style Guide! We hope you will find this to be a useful resource as you develop and improve your written communication skills during your study with AIB.


This AIB Style Guide articulates AIB’s expectations for the work you submit at AIB. The modern workplace expects consistent and well-written communication, and use of a style guide is not uncommon. At AIB, some marks for assessments are awarded for ‘communication’. Hence, it is important that we clarify the requirements for presenting your work.


Please refer to the specific requirements outlined in your assessments in your subjects as they will vary according to the subject. This guide is to provide some overall tips and tricks.


We have tried to keep the AIB Style Guide as simple and straightforward as possible. The AIB Style Guide is divided into eight sections:


        Section 1 provides a 10 step approach to a written assessment / assignment


        Section 2 explains the principles of writing for AIB, including paragraph writing


        Section 3 explains how to present your assessment in report format


        Section 4 outlines some of the alternative assessment types to assignments


        Section 5 provides some basic guidelines on exam techniques


        Section 6 outlines the principles of academic integrity and tips on avoiding breaches


        Section 7 outlines how to style and present any documents you are submitting during your AIB study


        Section 8 provides you with guidelines on author/date style referencing, paraphrasing and quoting to help you reference appropriately for your AIB assignments and includes an appendix of examples on how to reference in-text and in your references.


The following provides a recommended ten-step approach to writing assessments. It is strongly recommended that you follow these steps in sequential order to address your assessment requirements.


Step 1. Read, understand and address the assessment question

Carefully read the assessment question, specific instructions and guidelines and ensure you understand clearly what is being asked. Your submission must respond to the assessment question/task. By doing this you will know what you need to do, how to do it and whether you need some form of assistance to finish the assessment.


Furthermore, make sure you check the word count.


Then, consider the audience of the assessment. Do the assessment instructions suggest that the assessment should be aimed at a particular manager of a particular organisation? If no particular manager is mentioned in the instructions, assume that the facilitator will be the audience. Whoever the reader is, aim the assessment at your audience and keep in mind their requirements and knowledge.


Step 2. Do background reading and write down notes

Do some brief background reading around the topic, starting with your textbook, writing down the main concepts and ideas that seem relevant. Is there any relevant history related to your topic? Or is there any important detail that will be of high significance to the future? Are there any important people involved? Knowing such details will give you a better idea as to how to start and finish your assessment.


Step 3. Organise your assessment

Make a tentative, organised list of headings, sub-headings and important topics that will have to be addressed. Inform yourself as to how table of contents fields are formatted in Microsoft Word, or any other word processing application you may be using; and how to update the page numbers for

your table of contents as your composition grows and evolves. Fine-tune your listing of subject headings as you start gathering information about the assessment’s topics. Organisation is always the key to a well-written assessment. It not only gives you direction as you write, but it also gives your paper a certain level of professionalism.


Step 4. Collate information and note your sources for proper referencing

Gather information from articles and other credible sources (preferably from peer-reviewed journal articles). Take notes and write down reference information about your sources (you may forget or lose them otherwise). The AIB Style Guide has details of what information is required for referencing in the assessment; make sure you collect all that information when you first have your hands on the source of information. Collecting all the necessary information for proper referencing as soon as you encounter the source will save you precious time during the course of your writing. The list will also come in handy if you want to double check information.


Step 5. Organise your notes bearing in mind the marking criteria

Organise your notes and finalise the outline with its headings, sub-headings and topics. Consult the assessment instructions/guidelines and the marking criteria for your assessment (with the weightings for various criteria). Bear these in mind as you plan and write the assessment. Comparing your outline with the assessment details will let you know if you have covered everything that the assessment requires or if you have included something that is irrelevant. It will give you a chance to finalise your outline before proceeding with the actual writing.


Step 6. Start writing the assessment

Then, and only then, start writing the assessment in the appropriate format. AIB assessments are often written in a standard report format. Remember to note the sources of information as you write; after all, you have to ensure you place appropriate in-text citations in your report. We recommend you use the Office Word Format/Font command set to Arial, Calibri or Helvetica 12 point, and the Format/Paragraph command set to 1.5 line spacing.


Step 7. Re-read and re-write your assessment

Re-writing is essential. Make sure you add or delete appropriate words or paragraphs and check the spelling and grammar. Prior to re-writing, read and re-read your draft. Check whether the flow of thoughts is clear and maintains continuity. Check for any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and/or improper use of full stops, commas or question marks. Make sure you read your assessment carefully to check for errors or omissions. Lastly, ensure that you adhere to the required word count, and add/delete words as necessary.


Step 8. Write the Executive Summary

Now write the Executive Summary. This is the summary of the entire assessment. Include only salient points of your assessment. It is called a summary because it is supposed to be brief and comprehensive.


Step 9. List the references

Add the alphabetical list of references.

Step 10. Submit the assessment

Submit the assessment to AIB in PDF format. Remember to keep an eye on the word count. The word count includes all text from the ‘Introduction’ section through to the beginning of the ‘References’ (that is, do not include the title page, Executive Summary/Abstract, table of contents, References or Appendices in the word count).



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