What Browsing Wikileaks Cables Taught Me About Report Writing

The treasure trove of diplomatic cables has a lot to teach about summarizing meetings — even those of the civilian kind

Whatever your thoughts about Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks, I believe that the Diplomatic Cables which the leak released is a veritable treasure-trove of information that is of immense use for anybody that wants to integrate effective debriefing and report writing as part of their (civilian) workflow duties.

Use Document Header Tags To Standardize Your Reports (And Improve Their Searchability)

Did you know that the US military has its very own system for writing email headers designed to make it more efficient for users to scan through their inboxes?

A cable from Wikileaks which, in raw content view, contains tags in the header area. Image: Wikileaks

Write Your Reports While Your Memory is Fresh

While Wikileaks readers aren’t privy to when the cables that were ultimately leaked were authored (as in how soon after the events to which they refer) the general sense from reading them is that they’re authored in a fairly time-sensitive manner.

Follow Journalistic Convention — Use The Inverted Pyramid

Journalists are typically taught to use the so-called inverted pyramid structure when typing up their articles. The most pertinent and newsworthy information is included in the top paragraph — also called the lede — and progressively less important information follows.

The opening paragraph of a Wikileaks cable

Create (And Stick To) A Format That Works For You

Many of the Wikileaks cables are engaging and well-written recounts of the interactions between US embassy officials worldwide and their foreign interlocutors.

Thought leadership ghostwriter for technology clients and non-fiction books. Site: DSRGhostwriting.com. Book: amzn.to/2C3jkZS

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