Public Policy
Writing That
2nd Edition

By David Chrisinger

A thoroughly updated and expanded guide to honing your public policy writing skills—and making a significant impact on the world.

Professionals across a variety of disciplines need to write about public policy in a manner that inspires action and genuine change. You may have amazing ideas about how to improve the world, but if you aren’t able to communicate these ideas well, they simply won’t become a reality. In Public Policy Writing That Matters, communications expert David Chrisinger, who directs the Harris Writing Program at the University of Chicago and worked in the US Government Accountability Office for a decade, argues that public policy writing is most persuasive when it tells clear, concrete stories about people doing things. Combining helpful hints and cautionary tales with writing exercises and excerpts from sample policy analysis, Chrisinger teaches readers to craft concise, story-driven pieces that exceed the stylistic requirements and limitations of traditional policy writing.

Aimed at helping students and professionals overcome their default impulses to merely “explain,” this book reveals proven tips—tested in the real world and in the classroom—for writing sophisticated policy analysis that is also easy to understand. For anyone interested in planning, organizing, developing, writing, and revising accessible public policy, Chrisinger offers a step-by-step guide that covers everything from the most effective use of data visualization to the best ways to write a sentence, from the ideal moment for adding a compelling anecdote to advice on using facts to strengthen an argument.

This second edition addresses the current political climate and touches on policy changes that have occurred since the book was originally published. A vital tool for any policy writer or analyst, Public Policy Writing That Matters is a book for everyone passionate about using writing to effect real and lasting change.

Praise for Public Policy Writing That Matters:

Public Policy Writing That Matters is a book to keep on your desk! This book offers valuable lessons – on organizing your writing, telling your story, and even using visual aids – that will improve any report, white paper, or memo you write. My students find the easy-to-apply writing tips immensely helpful, and they enjoy the compelling policy examples. An important book for those in government, the private sector, and non-profits, as the well-explained writing lessons transcend sector.

Lauren N. Brodsky, Harvard Kennedy School

Chrisinger combines quick-hitting, practical guidance with cases that inspire critical analysis to create a text ideal for public policy communication courses.

Stacy Rosenberg, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

David Chrisinger’s work is an essential resource for public policy professionals, teachers, and students alike. I have used Public Policy Writing That Matters as teaching material for students and executives for the past three years. With specific guidelines and real-world examples, Chrisinger gives readers a clear path to improvement of skills that they will find exceptionally useful toward any career in public policy, be it government work, policy analysis, or advocacy.

Jakov Bojović, President and Executive Director, Centre for Policy Writing

Public Policy Writing That Matters is clearly written for students to excel in policy-related fields. This book is a must-read for undergraduate- and graduate-level policy courses.

Sara Rinfret, Baucus Institute Department of Public Administration & Policy