• Arranging documents and other communications in an easy-to-follow, useful manner

  • Identifying and properly labeling data, information sources and assumptions

  • Organizing work in a methodical and tidy fashion, free from irregularity


Please review the following two images.

Image #1

Image #2

Image #1 is a hand-written note I made while reading Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen.  Image #2 is a slide I created from the hand-written note. Both images contain the same basic information. Yet, even though their content is essentially the same, the second image is much easier to read. It takes less time to review and it is more likely to be recalled. In short, image #2 does a more effective job of communicating its information. The secret: neatness.

Neatness counts, and everyone benefits when we do our work neatly:

Clear communication reduces the risk of misunderstandings and unspoken assumptions.

Neatness communicates value. It says: I respect your time and I want you to understand this information with as little effort as possible on your part. I am willing to work a little harder so that you don’t have to.

Neatness fosters trust and builds confidence. It says: I will perform my work in an orderly fashion. I am covering all the bases and you can easily check my work. (Neatness counts is the delivery mechanism for demonstrating the “thoroughness” GuideMark.)

Tidy work helps guard against errors and omissions.

Well-organized work saves everyone time later. It is easier to reproduce and repurpose. It is also easier to check after-the-fact, such as during an audit.

The benefits of neat work far outweigh the extra investment of time that is required upfront. Personally, I always want to be improving the neatness of my work. Perhaps I should start by improving my handwriting. If “Image #1” above had been written neatly to begin with, perhaps I wouldn’t have had to reformat the information into a new slide!

Key Words and Phrases

Precise; Methodical; Free from irregularity; Arranged orderly; Tidy; Fastidious; Systematic; Admirable.

Opposite Terms

Disorganized; Sloppy; Messy; Disheveled.


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