Use Real-Life Templates For Writing Success

At some point along the way, most of us have used what are commonly called "fill-in-the-blank" writing templates. We might have used them to write a letter, format an essay, or set-up a resume or CV.

You know what I'm talking about here. It's those form letter templates that you see in many writing texts and workbooks.


For example, in the case of a letter, a "fill-in-the-blank" template would look something like this:


This is to advise you that your probation period in the position [POSITION NAME] expired on [DATE].

The [NAME OF REVIEW COMMITTEE] met on [DATE OF MEETING] and determined that your probationary appointment was successful and that you should be immediately appointed to [NAME OF POSITION] [NAME OF ORGANIZATIONAL UNIT].

Accordingly, this is to inform you that effective [DATE OF APPOINTMENT] you are officially appointed to the position of [NAME OF POSITION] for an initial period of [NUMBER OF YEARS/MONTHS]. Terms and conditions of your employment are covered by [OFFICIAL CONTRACT NAME/NUMBER].

Would you please report as soon as possible to [NAME OF OFFICIAL], [TITLE OF OFFICIAL] in the [OFFICIAL NAME OF HR GROUP] so that the details of your appointment may be properly documented.

Congratulations [NAME OF APPOINTEE]. All of us at [COMPANY OR ORGANIZATION NAME] look forward to working with you in the future.



Although this "fill-in-the-blank" approach can work, it has a number of shortcomings as follows:


- Because of their generic nature, they tend to generalize so much that they resemble a computer generated form letter.

- They don't provide specific information on how a professional would properly fill in the required information [BLANKS].

- They don't provide mental stimulation or show how a professional might word the letter in a specific real-life context.

- The content is typically watered down to try and cover every possible situation.

- Thus, they are virtually useless for 98% of real-life situations, since they lack real-life content.


On the other hand, here's what a "real-life" template would look like for a similar situation:

Dear Jessica:

This is to advise you that your probation period in the position Customer Service Agent (Temporary) expired on November 30, 2004.

The Staffing Review Committee met late last week and determined that your probationary appointment was successful and that you should be immediately appointed as Customer Service Agent (Ongoing).

Accordingly, this is to inform you that effective December 1, 2004 you are officially appointed to the position of Customer Service Agent in the Customer Support Group for an initial period of 36 months. Terms and conditions of your employment are covered by the Customer Service Group Employment Agreement.

Would you please report as soon as possible to Jim Jackson, Chief of Human Resources so that the details of your appointment may be properly documented.

Congratulations Jessica! All of us here at MedWay Systems Inc. look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.


Sharon Smithson Manager, Customer Support Group


Clearly, the "model" that most of us would rather work with, if we had to write a similar letter, is definitely the second one, the "real-life" template.

You can relate to it. It talks about real-life people in a real-life situation that you can identify with. And, you get to see exactly how a professional worded it.

There are other advantages to "real-life" templates:

Fully-Formatted Final Versions

"Real-life" templates are fully-formatted as final documents so that you can see exactly how they looked when they were sent out in a "real-life" situation. They don't look like some kind of "draft" form letter.

Content With Value

Working with "real-life" templates, it is much easier to adapt them to YOUR actual situations because they give you visual and intellectual cues that you can relate to.

Naturally, when you see how a copywriter or consultant has dealt with a "real-life" scenario, in terms of word choice, context, and punctuation, it is much easier to adapt to the real-life situation that you are writing for. In that way, the actual content has value.

Easy To Work With

"Real-life" templates are just as easy to work with as other templates. You simply load them into your word processing program and edit and adjust them to fit your own specific situation. Presto! You have a fully formatted real-life letter ready to be printed and sent out in the mail.

You also have the comfort of knowing that what you are sending has already been used in other "real-life" situations.

Real-Life Content

With real-life templates, it is much easier to find an adaptable "fit" for the situation you are writing for. Not only do they give you the final format of a document, their content provides an excellent real-life sample and gives food-for-thought to assist you in the writing process.


For illustration purposes, many real-life letter templates as well as real-life resume templates can be found at my main Writing writing help Web site:

Now that you've checked those out, I ask you, would you rather work from a "fill-in-the-blanks" generic template, or a fully-formatted "real-life" template?

© 2005 by Shaun Fawcett

Shaun Fawcett, is webmaster of the popular writing help site He is also the author of several best selling "writing toolkit" eBooks. All of his eBooks and his internationally acclaimed f-r-e-e course, "Tips and Tricks For Writing Success" are available at his writing tools site:

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