Lesson 12 Activity

Have a clear focus for the entire document and for each block in the document.

Limiting the document to the subject in the central idea and providing just what the reader needs to accomplish your objective is termed focusing. These activities will help you apply the skills you’ve already learned to ensuring that your documents and all the parts of your documents have focus.

What You Will Submit to Demonstrate Your Competence

If you have a technical document written for non-technical readers, follow the instructions below using it.

If you have no technical document written for non-technical readers, follow the instructions in the case study below to analyze the report that follows the case study. Download the text that is already in a Microsoft Word document. Submit the following to your instructor:

  1. The copy of the original report with highlights to show the central idea key terms and levels of key terms.
  2. Your analysis of the report’s focus.
  3. Your revision of the report.

Case Study

The following report lacks focus and sections lack focus. To check a document for focus, identify the key terms for the central idea, Level 1 points, and any lower-level points. You will use the key terms to make sure the document and sections have focus.

Follow this procedure to find the problems with focus in either your document or the case-study document below. Send the document with your analysis as described below to assignments@businesswriting.com.

Task 1: Identify the central idea and points explaining the central idea.

  1. Find the key terms for the central idea, the Level 1 ideas, and any more detailed levels of ideas. If you do not find key terms for any of the ideas you identify, type them in bold to show you have inserted them. They will give a name to the block to help you define its beginning and ending.
  2. Use Word’s Highlight function to highlight the key terms for the central idea in cyan (light blue/green), the Level 1 ideas in yellow, and Level 2 or more detailed levels in light green.
  3. Each Level 1 key term signals that a new block of ideas should begin. Press the [Enter] key to put in carriage returns creating blank lines between the blocks.

Task 2: Evaluate the focus of the document and sections in it.

  1. Check the Level 1 key terms to be sure every one pertains to the central idea key term and that every one is necessary to accomplish the objectives with the reader. Include no more and no less.
  2. Then see whether the key terms for the Level 2 points all pertain to the Level 1 points and are limited to what the reader must have.
  3. Finally, check to be sure all more detailed sub-points pertain to the key term that is the name of the block.
  4. Write your analysis of the focus of the document just after the document with your highlighting in it.


The readers are upper-level managers who are reading the report to understand issues they need to consider in a planning meeting coming up. They are expecting a high-level document that doesn’t include detail. All of them are busy and expect the report to be concise and focused.


When the readers finish this report, they will know the primary changes that occurred in 2015 that will affect their planning for the next five years.

Changes during 2015 have permanently changed the face of the paper industry. We need to consider these developments during the next two months as we plan for the next five years.

The year began with reduced paper production caused by the continued strike at Brighton Mills that began in April 2015. Capacity was further diminished by the strike in the United States industry in June 2015.

Fine Paper Products was one of the first manufacturers to shut down machines last year, permanently closing three uncoated free sheet machines in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas. Fine Paper Products’ announcement of their new line of coated products for book publication helped its bottom line. The new CEO, Lester Fulton, helped usher in a new perspective on the market, looking toward the publishing industry as a whole and book publishing in particular.

Southmont, Braidwood, and Connolley followed Fine Paper Products with their own machine closures in the spring and summer. All in all, it means paper production has reduced and will stay at a reduced level.

In the fall, the paper industry suffered another setback when Hurricane Katrina caused many mills to evacuate and shut down, including Horizon Paper, Dawson, Friedman, Reston, and Philadelphia Paper. While many recovered, a few mills, such as Philadelphia Paper, remained closed permanently.

The reason there was a problem is that Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale that classifies Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones. The sustained winds did damage to buildings and flooding prevented workers from entering plants. Some plants were damaged to the point that they did not open afterward.

Fuel costs increased during 2015. In the aftermath of Katrina the industry was hit with spiking energy cost resulting in fuel surcharges and price increases. Even without Katrina, however, it became apparent that fuel costs would continue to rise and create a problem in future years.

However pricing stayed relatively stable during 2015. Uncoated price increases announced earlier in the year were later rescinded. Coated pricing also remained stable due increasing imports from China. The year ended with price increase announcements from most mills, showing that pricing won’t remain as stable in 2015. We’re expecting prices to continue to rise.

Major players in the North American paper market restructured during 2015. Dawson started the trend by spinning off their paper group to New York Paper. Horizon Paper sold their paper group to Philadelphia Paper and Southmont divested to Rogers. Braidwood announced restructuring plans that included divesting every non-uncoated asset. Friedman’s return to profitability plan included the sale of one Canadian mill and the permanent closure of two others. Balton and Springfield Paper also decided to restructure by shutting down mills in Canada.

The major problem with such restructuring is that some companies don’t see the benefits they had hoped for, and some don’t recover from costs of restructuring. Customers may not like the change in branding that results from acquisitions and mergers.

Asia is picking up in its paper production due to subsidized building. This increase in productivity accompanied aggressive marketing and exporting. With countries entering the market that are not currently strong or even on the horizon, we may not be able to predict future competition.

Asia and the Indian sub-continent are also responsible for some of the increase in fuel costs. The Chinese and Indians are demanding more energy as their economies grow. We expect that higher fuel costs will result as fuel demand increases and production can’t keep up with it.