Persuasive Writing
How to Harness the Power of Words

By Peter Frederick
May 2011
Pearson Education
Distributed by Trans-Atlantic Publications
ISBN: 9780273746133
194 pages
$39.50 paper original

A combination of effective writing, decision-making and persuasion. Designed for everyday use, this book offers practical advice to help readers write concise, convincing and effective documents.



Section 1: What is Persuasive Writing?

Why are you writing?

Who is your audience?

Reader Response = Result

Section 2: Tools for Persuasive Writing

Ethos, Logos, Pathos

Using emotive language

You, We, I – getting personal


Persuasive writing example

Section 3: Persuasion – Beyond Logic

The science of decision-making

Primacy – why coming first matters


Consistency and why we hate changing our minds

Justification and evidence


Loss and reward – a bird in the hand…

Outside influences – following the herd

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Anchoring – decision-making all at sea

The Halo Effect

Recency – the here and now

The reader is always right

Commercial Break: Advertisement Slogans

Section 4: Conciseness Equals Clarity

Ason and the Jargonauts

Sentence length

The writer’s diet – cutting padding

Culling lazy words

Examples, similes and analogies

A 7-step concise writing process

Section 5: Verbs Equal Vigour

Grammar refresher

Verbs just wanna have fun

Verbs in disguise – noun suffixes

Section 6: Mistakes

Commonly confused words

Using the wrong word

Scattershot punctuation and no punctuation

Poor spelling

‘Mistakes’ that aren’t mistakes

Section 7: Planning and Structuring

Plan, Draft, Edit

Document structures

Section 8: Layout, Fonts and Formatting

Font choice




Tables and diagrams

Section 9: Tips for Common Documents

More effective emails

Writing for the web

Persuasive CVs

Executive summaries and abstracts

Grant funding

Feedback, fear and a favour

Section 10: Persuasion – the Dark Arts

Assume causality

It’s common sense, stupid

It’s common knowledge

Abuse statistics

Widen or narrow definitions

Flattery will get you everywhere

And a few more…

The End

Appendix 1: Summary of rules

Appendix 2: Supersized words and their alternatives

Appendix 3: Recommended reading

Appendix 4: Persuasive writing flowchart

Appendix 5: Persuasive writing checklist

Appendix 6: Exploiting and countering human decision-making

Appendix 7: the 7 step concise writing process – worked example

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