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Does the prospect of writing an essay make you squirm? Do you dread drafting an email? Maybe you should PEE. Not literally (unless you gotta go): It’s an acronym that can help you become a better, more efficient written communicator. As gross and silly as it sounds, it’s an easy way to remember what you need to do when you’re writing so the audience receives your message. 

What is PEE?

PEE (point, evidence, explanation) is an acronym that helps you remember everything your paragraph should include if you want your paper, report, memo, speech, or whatever else to deliver your message just right. Mnemonic phrases are excellent at helping us retain and recall information; especially memorable ones—like, yes, PEE—are bound to get lodged deep in the old memory bank. 

  • Point: The main idea of your paragraph, which should be direct and clear. 

  • Evidence: Anything that backs up the point and relates to it directly. Your evidence is whatever you’re referring to to make the point, whether it’s data, research, or past work. 

  • Explanation: The explanation will be your conclusion, during which you outline how the evidence supports your point and why it matters. 

How to use PEE to write better

When you set out to write something, start by considering what your main idea—or overall point—is. You can make a mind map or ChatGPT to generate an outline of what the full body of work will touch on. Read over your outline, thinking of PEE: What is the point? What evidence do I have to support that point? How can I explain the ways the evidence fits together to make the point? 

From there, you have to create paragraphs that align with each element of your outline. Again, think of PEE as you write. Your first sentence will be your point, you’ll follow it up with evidence, and you’ll explain how it all works together. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to a new paragraph, following the format again. 

When you’re done, whether you need to send a single-paragraph email or submit a long essay, review your work, considering whether each paragraph and the entire composition align with PEE. Intros—to entire works and paragraphs alike—should feature direct assertions and nothing more, as the point. Evidence should be substantial and the explanation of how it upholds the point should be thorough. 

For instance, say you’re in charge of restocking your company’s kitchen with snacks, but you’re struggling to take inventory because people keep putting Goldfish in the bin that is designated for Chips Ahoy. You want to send everyone an email telling them to knock it off, right? Using PEE, your single-paragraph message could look like this: “I can’t make a new snack order until I complete this month’s inventory. Last month, I ordered an extra case of Goldfish and too few Chips Ahoy because seven bags of Goldfish were stashed in the Chips Ahoy container. As a result, we didn’t have enough Chips Ahoy to meet demand this month. When selecting a snack, please put unwanted bags back in their corresponding bins to make sure we have enough of what everyone wants on hand each month.” You made a point, backed it up with evidence, and tied it all together. Thanks, PEE!

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