Chapter 5: The Fundamentals of Writing

Writing Purpose

You should identify your purpose before you start writing. This purpose will guide your writing process and your decisions about how to write and what to include. Sometimes your instructor will provide a purpose for your writing. Other times, your purpose will depend on what effect you want your writing to have on your audience. What is your goal? What do you hope for your audience to think, feel, or do after reading it?

To figure out your purpose, start by looking at the course assignment guidelines. The verbs in your guidelines can help you determine the purpose of your writing. Once you know your ultimate goal, you can choose appropriate language. The verbs that you use will help your audience anticipate the direction of your work and also ensure congruence in your writing. For example, if your purpose is to argue, the audience can expect a debate with information strategically presented to convey a point of view. Instead, if your purpose is to inform the audience, your writing may be neutral with no specific point of view.

Here are a few possible purposes:

  • Persuade/inspire your audience to act or think about an issue from your point of view.
  • Challenge your audience or make them question their thinking or behaviour.
  • Argue for or against something your audience believes or change their minds or behaviour.
  • Inform/teach your audience about a topic they don’t know much about.
  • Connect with your audience emotionally and help them feel understood.
  • Motivate your audience to continue to research/investigate and learn about the topic.
  • Inspire your audience to share and apply what they learn to their nursing practice.


Student Tip

Purpose Statement

 Writing an effective and scholarly purpose statement is important because it guides your writing and tells the reader the focus of your paper. Here are some tips:

  • Consider the audience and write it clearly and concisely. You want your reader to understand it. A 1-sentence statement is effective and to the point. You should avoid long purpose statements because they tend to be confusing to the reader.
  • Choose your verbs purposefully based on what you actually will do in the paper and make sure they are aligned with the assignment guidelines. You should limit the number of verbs you use to less than two verbs, but one is fine as well.
  • Use present tense in the purpose statement and avoid future tense. 
  • Write it with confidence. Avoid words like “think” and “believe.”
  • Use pronouns consistently within your purpose statement. Don’t shift from first person to third person or vice versa. (more about pronouns on the the next page).
  • Use first or third person point of view (more about this on the next page).


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Content from this page was remixed with our own original content, and with editorial changes, adapted from:

The Word on College Reading and Writing by Carol Burnell, Jaime Wood, Monique Babin, Susan Pesznecker, and Nicole Rosevear, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.Download for free at:


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The Scholarship of Writing in Nursing Education: 1st Canadian Edition Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Lapum; Oona St-Amant; Michelle Hughes; Andy Tan; Arina Bogdan; Frances Dimaranan; Rachel Frantzke; and Nada Savicevic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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