OABC—A Writing Framework for Professionals
OABC represents opening, agenda, body, and closing, the four major text units of most written
business documents. OABC results in improved writing confidence, faster composition, and
superior documents for the reading audience. The following text includes a brief overview of the
OABC framework, which uses top-down processing to enhance learning and retention.
. In the opening part of a document, bring the audience into the message by giving
background information, stating the reason for the message, referring to a previous
communication, stating a problem, giving a conclusion or recommendation, or covering other
types of information appropriate to the situation.
Here are some samples:
Thanks for your July 13 letter asking about employment in our new plant in your city.
Since February 1, we have lost three major accounts because of our late product
deliveries. I’m convinced that we need to implement the procedures used by our Atlanta
operations, as we discussed last week.
Since talking with you in Denver last week, I have given a lot of thought to your idea
concerning acquiring the Bronson property. I’m convinced that such a move would not be
in the best interest of our company.
After months of work, I’m pleased to report that the details have been finalized for our
upgraded retirement package.
All these statements establish a connection between writer and reader; they lay the groundwork
for subsequent sentences that will build on the idea conveyed in the opening. In short documents,
one sentence may be adequate for the opening.
In longer, more complex situations, a paragraph
or even multiple pages may be necessary.
. This section contains a preview, or map, of the main points to be covered. Agenda
paragraphs are transitional paragraphs that act as bridges to subsequent paragraphs. Agendas
can be of four types: They can (1) quantify—tell the number of key content units, (2) identify—
specify the subject matter that follows, (3) prioritize—explain the sequence of the following
content units, or (4) visualize—give a metaphor to help create a mental image. Here is an example
of four opening sentences, each followed by one of the four types of agendas: