Purpose Statements

This resource was prepared by the Business Communications Lab at the Sam M. Walton College of Business
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A purpose statement is a declarative sentence that summarizes the specific purpose of the document. It tells the reader, briefly, what is being covered in the document and why. Purpose statements exist in business documents such as reports, executive summaries, and memos. Concision and clarity are key components to a successful purpose statement.

Characteristics of a good purpose statement are as follows:

  • A purpose statement should be brief
  • A purpose statement should be concise
  • A purpose statement should be clear

Where does a purpose statement go?

A purpose statement generally should be the first thing your audience reads. They should not have to search for, or attempt to decipher, the specific topic to be addressed in the document.

What does a purpose statement look like?

To develop an effective purpose statement, you may use the following template:

My primary purpose is to ________________, so that (intended audience) will _______________.

By writing your primary purpose and the effect you want to have on your audience, you have directed the scope of your writing project for yourself and given your audience certain expectations about the rest of the document.

You may need to refine the language of your purpose statement to fit your specific audience and purpose. You might consider the following:

  • In this report, I will ….
  • The purpose of this proposal is to request funding for …., so that our department will….
  • In this memo, we will describe four causes of conflict in the workplace and how to avoid conflict…
  • The purpose of this email is to provide….

Remember when you revise, you may want to refine your purpose statement but explicit is always the best way to present your purpose.

 

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