Public Policy
Writing That

By David Chrisinger

Students and professionals across a variety of disciplines need to write 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 reality. In Public Policy Writing That Matters, communications specialist David Chrisinger 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 documents, Chrisinger teaches readers to craft concise, story-driven pieces that exceed the stylistic requirements and limitations of traditional policy writing.

Too often, public policy writing is convoluted, opaque, and exclusive. Chrisinger, who teaches introductory policy writing courses around the country, offers a step-by-step guide for anyone interested in planning, organizing, developing, writing, and revising accessible public policy. From the most effective use of data visualization, the best way to write a sentence, and the ideal moment to add a compelling anecdote to advice on using facts to strengthen an argument, this little book, inspired by Strunk & White’s classic style guide, will allow anyone crafting public policy to make a bigger impact. Aimed at helping students and professionals overcome their default impulses to merely “explain,” this book reveals proven, classroom-tested tips for writing sophisticated policy that is also easy to understand.

This practical, concise handbook will not only aid students throughout graduate school, but will also remain a reference to consult throughout their professional careers. 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 from David’s Past Students:

Dave’s writing class showed the basic elements needed for solid policy memos. Before his class, I wrote with too much confusion and fluff. Now, I think twice before flooding a paper with adjectives or flowery language. In today’s fast-paced policy world, you need to write fast and clear. 

Adam Zoellner, Health Portfolio Lead at MITRE

I finished my undergrad with very little writing experience. After working for the last few years, I felt uneasy jumping back into a graduate program that has a heavy focus on writing. After our workshops with David, I feel confident in my writing skills. David broke down a complex process into simple ideas that can be reapplied and reworked over and over again.

Vinny Cannizzaro, Director, The Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy

Many people teach the mechanics of grammar, but even practiced writers can benefit from honing their communication strategies. David taught us not simply the science of good writing, but with it the art of coherent and logical thinking. His techniques have broad applications — from correspondence to issue briefs to research memorandum — and have benefited both my academic and professional writing.

Keara Castaldo, Election Adviser at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights

David’s instruction helped make my transition from undergraduate studies to graduate studies a smooth one. Even with a background in policy studies, David’s lessons helped me to develop my policy writing from undergraduate quality to graduate and professional quality. I really liked that he stressed the importance of sentence structure, which is often forgotten in higher level writing courses.

Ariana Bengtsson, Analyst at Abt Associates

When David taught us a new brainstorming method for policy writing — Condition, Criteria, Cause and Effect — I had a hard time getting used to this new method of thinking. However, when my first policy writing assignment came in, I used the method to create a concise and persuasive document. Turns out, I nailed the assignment and my classmates all wanted to know what I did to create such a well-balanced document. I continue to use the method and it gets easier each time.

Brittany Goldstein, Director of Business Development at Salud Family Health Centers