Ten Tips for Improving Your Analytic Writing

This course is no longer available. We’re revamping it, adding lots of new content and exercises. Stay tuned…

Who Is This Course For?

The mini-course is intended for anyone whose writing could use some improvement, which, if we’re being honest, is almost everyone. Its 10 tips target problems that frequently undermine analytic products but will quickly raise your writing game no matter what you write at work or in school.

The tips come from the instructor’s 27 years of experience creating, reviewing, and teaching others how to write effective analytic products for demanding customers in the public and private sectors. If you consistently follow these tips, you’ll avoid the majority of the pitfalls that lead to extensive edits and products that go unread, misunderstood, or ignored.  This short course is also a great preparation for upcoming Proficiency1 courses that address different aspects of analytic thinking and writing.

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Most undergrad and grad students rarely receive training in how to create an analytic product.  As a result, they face a steep learning curve when starting their careers as analysts. This course offers a head start in honing analytic writing skills before the first day on the job. It will also help students create stronger papers that will stand out to professors tired of reading sloppy prose.

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Any professional who writes for a living—and most analysts fall into that category—can stand to improve their writing. New analysts mounting that just-mentioned learning curve can accelerate their development with this course, and experienced ones can always use a quick refresher.

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To effectively review analytic writing, you must focus on the big picture and the details, and this course will help you do both. A critical part of being a reviewer is teaching through your edits, and the 10 tips provide a simple framework for developing analysts’ basic writing skills.

Win Over Your Skeptical Customer

Your customers have a host of reasons not to listen to you.  For you to succeed as an analyst, you must overcome these reasons, and the 10 tips will help you.

They must read

Your customers are very busy and looking for any excuse not to read yet another paper or memo. If they don’t take the time to read your analysis, you have failed to help them and wasted your time.  This puts a premium on your being concise.

They must understand

If your customers decide to read your piece, but they are confused by your prose and arguments, you have failed to provide value. Your writing therefore must be clear.

They must believe

Even if customers read and understand your analysis, if they doubt your arguments, evidence, or attention to detail, they will not believe you, and you will have wasted their time. You and your analysis must be credible.

What You’ll Get


One Hour of Video Content

Self-paced, take the course wherever, whenever, and as often as you like.


Course Transcript

Every lesson has a complete transcript so you can quickly and easily find key information when you need it.

Downloadable Ten Tips Handout

A quick reference to remind yourself of the courses key suggestions for improving your analytic writing.

What You’ll Learn

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • The proper mindset an analyst needs when approaching any writing assignment
  • The challenges of a skeptical customer and how to overcome them
  • The fundamental elements of all good analytic writing
  • How to avoid the most common mistakes in analytic writing
  • The picky elements of writing that can destroy your credibility with your customer if you get them wrong

Course Content


  • Opening Video 
  • Establishing the Proper Mindset for Analytic Writing 

Tip 1 – Purge Your Prose

Tip 2 – Use Strong Topic Sentences 

Tip 3 – Link the Title, Executive Summary, and Body 

Tip 4 – Use Evidence Effectively

Tip 5 – Avoid Pronoun Confusion 

Tip 6 – Use Commas Properly  

Tip 7 – Make the Proper Word Choice 

Tip 8 – Avoid Unit Modifier Mayhem 

Tip 9 – Avoid Squishy Terms 

Tip 10 – Self-Edit Like a Boss


  • Closing Video 
  • Tip Sheet
  • Course Evaluation
Chris Savos

Your Instructor: Dr. Chris Savos

Dr. Chris Savos, the Director of Proficiency1, is dedicated to helping analysts everywhere build great careers.  In addition to running and developing courses for Proficiency1, he designs and delivers unique in-person leadership, analytic, and professional skills training programs to a range of clients in the Intelligence Community and the private sector.

Chris knows what makes analytic products work, what causes them to fail, and how to teach analysts to improve their writing. He has reviewed thousands of products as a leader of analytic units at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and many more as an analytic writing instructor since leaving the Agency.

Chris has extensive experience as an executive manager, leader, and analyst with the CIA, where he worked for 22 years and earned the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Agency’s highest award for career service. Chris successfully led analytical units that covered sensitive issues in the Middle East and in South and East Asia.  He was also the CIA’s first Lead Talent Officer for the Directorate of Analysis and oversaw talent management and development programs for the Agency’s analytic workforce.

Chris earned a BA in government from Dartmouth College and a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You can learn more about him at www.chrissavos.com

Sharpen your analytic writing

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