which ideas are arranged in logical order, leading to a
conclusion in the final paragraph.
Let us look at the size of the Navy business-
management job. You have all, no doubt, thumbed
through a mail order catalog and have been
impressed with the number of items available. You
can buy tools, clothes, toys, drugs, stationery and all
sorts of household appliances and general supplies.
Actually the largest catalog carries around 100,000
Let us compare this 100,000 with the range of
items required by the Navy. In our catalogs we carry
some 1,200,000 itemsmore than 10 times as many
as you find in the largest commercial catalog. The
Navy supply system carries everything from missile
parts to brooms, electronic parts to potatoes and
uniforms to medicines.
We issue more than 20,000,000 items each year.
To meet these demands, the Navy alone carries an
inventory of around .5 billion.
In other words, within the total defense supply
operations, the Navy portion alone is big business.
Measured in terms of dollars, it is twice as large as
the entire General Motors industrial complex.
This example demonstrates several things. It shows
how facts can be advanced to support a conclusion. In
this case, the conclusion that the Navy supply system is
big business is supported by evidence of (1) the range
of items carried, (2) the volume of supplies issued and
(3) the size of the inventory. This is also a good example
of the use of comparison (Navy supply compared to a
commercial mail-order catalog) to help the reader
visualize the facts offered. Emphasis is heightened in
paragraph three by contrast presented in parallel
structures. The final paragraph illustrates the summing
up and a statement of the conclusion drawn from the
. Time-honored rules of rhetoric have established
that for emphasis an item should stand first or last. This
has been regarded as true whether one is speaking of the
sentence, the paragraph or the piece of writing as a
whole. When we think of order of emphasis we have
this principle in mind. Whether the items placed first and
last are remembered longest is open to question, but
certainly, the placing of anything, either at the beginning
or at the end, gives it emphasis at the moment. Which
of the two positions will give the greater emphasis
depends upon the individual situation.
In news writing, as you well know, the lead para-
graph is the most important because people want the
news quickly and often do not read through to the end
of the story. Orators need a strong beginning and a strong
ending. The important thing is that the writer remembers
that position is a device for gaining emphasis and he
should consciously use it.
WRITING THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS LETTER
The composition of a public affairs letter is an area
where you have no gauge or formula to guide you. Every
letter differs with the situation. However, there are some
important pointers to remember.
Try to visualize the public affairs letter as a news
story, and get right to the point. Tell the reader what he
wants to know simply and clearly. As in a news story,
the information most important to the reader should go
into your lead.
Actually, the biggest battle is for you to get away
from some of the poor letter-writing habits picked up in
the belief that they are sound business-like habits. The
following are some examples:
l Lengthy and unnecessary acknowledgements
The person whose letter you are answering knows
what he wrote. And he knows when he wrote it. Too
often we waste time with long introductions like this:
This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of
1 May 1993 in which you requested the services of
a band, color guard and marching unit to appear in
your Fourth of July parade in Hialeah, Florida, and
offering to reimburse the Navy for the cost of
transportation and billeting.
What does the reader know so far? Nothing. He
wants to know, Am I getting the band? The previous
acknowledgement might be rewritten like this:
Thank you for your letter of May 1. Your
interest in having Navy participation in your July 4
parade is certainly appreciated by this command. At
present, we foresee no problems in fulfilling your
Further details will be. . .
. Needless words and information
Edit your letters just as you would a news release.
Cut out unnecessary words and phrases. Stay away from
words and phrases that hedge because they have the
appearance of your being uncertain or unwilling to
commit yourself. Some members of this group: