Guide your readers better than this trail guided me

I got lost. A poorly marked hiking trail sent my husband and me in one wrong direction and then another before we found our way. This reminded me of how writing that lacks trail markers sends readers astray.

The best trail markers for your writing are topic sentences. A strong topic sentence—the first sentence of any paragraph—summarizes the information covered by the rest of the paragraph.

Let me illustrate with an example of bad writing.

Factor #1 affects your investment performance. It can make a big difference in your investment returns. Factor #2 is important, too. So is Factor #3. #2 acts independently of #1 and #3. Factor #3 interacts with Factor #1, but not #2.

This would make more sense with a new topic sentence and some rearranging.

Three factors have a big impact on your investment returns: #1, #2, and #3. #1 and #3 work together, while #2 is independent of them.

To learn more about how topic sentences can help you, read “Quick check for writers, with an economic commentary example.”

If you don’t want to fix examples like this on your own, consider hiring me to help with your firm’s market or portfolio performance commentary. Or check out my June 26 webinar, “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read.”