Use Real-Life Templates For Writing Success

At some point along the way, most of us have used what arecommonly called "fill-in-the-blank" writing templates. Wemight have used them to write a letter, format an essay, orset-up a resume or CV.

You know what I'm talking about here. It's those form lettertemplates that you see in many writing texts and workbooks.


For example, in the case of a letter, a "fill-in-the-blank"template would look something like this:


This is to advise you that your probation period in theposition [POSITION NAME] expired on [DATE].

The [NAME OF REVIEW COMMITTEE] met on [DATE OF MEETING] anddetermined that your probationary appointment was successfuland that you should be immediately appointed to [NAME OFPOSITION] [NAME OF ORGANIZATIONAL UNIT].

Accordingly, this is to inform you that effective [DATE OFAPPOINTMENT] you are officially appointed to the positionof [NAME OF POSITION] for an initial period of [NUMBER OFYEARS/MONTHS]. Terms and conditions of your employment arecovered by [OFFICIAL CONTRACT NAME/NUMBER].

Would you please report as soon as possible to [NAME OFOFFICIAL], [TITLE OF OFFICIAL] in the [OFFICIAL NAME OFHR GROUP] so that the details of your appointment may beproperly documented.

Congratulations [NAME OF APPOINTEE]. All of us at [COMPANYOR ORGANIZATION NAME] look forward to working with you inthe future.



Although this "fill-in-the-blank" approach can work, it hasa number of shortcomings as follows:


- Because of their generic nature, they tend to generalizeso much that they resemble a computer generated form letter.

- They don't provide specific information on how aprofessional would properly fill in the required information[BLANKS].

- They don't provide mental stimulation or show how aprofessional might word the letter in a specific real-lifecontext.

- The content is typically watered down to try and coverevery possible situation.

- Thus, they are virtually useless for 98% of real-lifesituations, since they lack real-life content.


On the other hand, here's what a "real-life" templatewould look like for a similar situation:

Dear Jessica:

This is to advise you that your probation period in theposition Customer Service Agent (Temporary) expired onNovember 30, 2004.

The Staffing Review Committee met late last week anddetermined that your probationary appointment was successfuland that you should be immediately appointed as CustomerService Agent (Ongoing).

Accordingly, this is to inform you that effective December1, 2004 you are officially appointed to the position ofCustomer Service Agent in the Customer Support Group foran initial period of 36 months. Terms and conditions ofyour employment are covered by the Customer Service GroupEmployment Agreement.

Would you please report as soon as possible to Jim Jackson,Chief of Human Resources so that the details of yourappointment may be properly documented.

Congratulations Jessica! All of us here at MedWay SystemsInc. look forward to continuing to work with you in thefuture.


Sharon SmithsonManager, Customer Support Group


Clearly, the "model" that most of us would rather workwith, if we had to write a similar letter, is definitelythe second one, the "real-life" template.

You can relate to it. It talks about real-life people ina real-life situation that you can identify with. And, youget to see exactly how a professional worded it.

There are other advantages to "real-life" templates:

Fully-Formatted Final Versions

"Real-life" templates are fully-formatted as final documentsso that you can see exactly how they looked when they weresent out in a "real-life" situation. They don't look likesome kind of "draft" form letter.

Content With Value

Working with "real-life" templates, it is much easier toadapt them to YOUR actual situations because they give youvisual and intellectual cues that you can relate to.

Naturally, when you see how a copywriter or consultant hasdealt with a "real-life" scenario, in terms of word choice,context, and punctuation, it is much easier to adapt to thereal-life situation that you are writing for. In that way,the actual content has value.

Easy To Work With

"Real-life" templates are just as easy to work with as othertemplates. You simply load them into your word processingprogram and edit and adjust them to fit your own specificsituation. Presto! You have a fully formatted real-lifeletter ready to be printed and sent out in the mail.

You also have the comfort of knowing that what you aresending has already been used in other "real-life"situations.

Real-Life Content

With real-life templates, it is much easier to find anadaptable "fit" for the situation you are writing for.Not only do they give you the final format of a document,their content provides an excellent real-life sample andgives food-for-thought to assist you in the writing process.


For illustration purposes, many real-life lettertemplates as well as real-life resume templates can befound at my main Writing writing help Web site:

Now that you've checked those out, I ask you, would yourather work from a "fill-in-the-blanks" generic template,or a fully-formatted "real-life" template?

© 2005 by Shaun Fawcett

Shaun Fawcett, is webmaster of the popular writing help He is also the author of severalbest selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks andhis internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and TricksFor Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site:

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