The Pyramid Principle 3rd Ed.

Logic in Writing and Thinking

Barbara Minto

Publisher: Prentice Hall, 2002, 177 pages

ISBN: 0-273-65903-0

Keywords: Presentations

Last modified: July 8, 2021, 10:21 p.m.

What is it that enables some people to put complex ideas across persuasively in writing, while others struggle to articulate their thoughts?

How often have you had to work hard to produce clear reports, papers, analyses, presentations and memos?

The clear communication of ideas, whether to clients, colleagues or the management board, is a key factor in determining personal success.

The Pyramid Principle explains how to:

  • think creatively, reason lucidly, and express ideas with clarity
  • define complex problems and establish the objectives of any document
  • assess your ideas and recognize their relative importance
  • structure your reasoning into a coherent and transparent argument
  • analyze your argument to confirm its effectiveness.
Barbara Minto's best-selling book, now in its third edition, is based on the concept that any grouping of ideas is easier to comprehend if it is pre-sorted into a logical structure before being committed to paper, and experience has shown that a ‘top-down’ pyramid structure is the most readily understood.

Applying the Pyramid Principle will enable you to present your thinking so clearly that the ideas move off the page and into the reader’s mind with a minimum of effort and a maximum of effect.

Bring your ideas to life!

  • Part I: The pyramid principle: logic in writing
      • Introduction
    1. Why a pyramid structure?
      • Sorting into pyramids
        • The magical number seven
        • The need to state logic
      • Ordering from the top down
      • Thinking from he bottom up
    2. The substructures within the pyramid
      • The vertical relationship
      • The horizontal relationship
      • The introductory flow
    3. How to build a pyramid structure
      • The top-down approach
      • The bottom-up approach
      • Caveats for beginners
    4. Fine points of introductions
      • Initial introductions
        • Why a story?
        • How long should it be?
        • Where do you start the situation?
        • What's a complication?
        • Why that order?
        • What about the key line?
        • Further examples
        • In summary
      • Some common patterns
        • Directives
        • Requests for funds
        • 'How to' documents
        • Letters of proposal
        • Progress reviews
      • Transition between groups
        • Referencing backward
        • Summarizing
        • Concluding
    5. Deduction and induction: the difference
      • Deductive reasoning
        • How it works
        • When to use it
      • Inductive reasoning
        • How it works
        • How it differs
    6. How to highlight the structure
      • Headings
      • Underlined points
      • Decimal numbering
      • Indented display
  • Part II. The pyramid principle: logic in thinking
      • Introduction
    1. Questioning the order of a grouping
      • Time order
        • Incomplete thinking
        • Confused logic
        • False grouping
      • Structural order
        • Creating a structure
        • Describing a structure
        • Imposing a structure
      • Ranking order
        • Creating proper class groupings
        • Identifying improper class groupings
    2. Questioning the problem-solving process
      • The problem-solving process
        • What is the problem?
        • Where does it lie?
        • Why does it exist?
        • What could we do about it?
        • What should we do about it?
      • Defining the problem
        • Period graph books
      • Structuring the analysis of the problem
        • Five typical logic trees
        • Use of the logic tree concept
    3. Questioning the summary statement
      • Stating the effect of actions
        • Make the wording specific
        • Distinguish the levels of action
      • Drawing an inference from conclusions
        • Find the structural similarity
        • Visualize the relationships
    4. Putting it into readable words
      • Create the image
      • Copy the image in words
    • Appendix: Problem solving in structureless situations


    The Pyramid Principle

    Reviewed by Roland Buresund

    Very Good ******** (8 out of 10)

    Last modified: July 13, 2008, 10:12 a.m.

    This is a very interesting book to read and try to apply. I, in fact, wished that I would have read this book before writing all of these MBA assignements…

    Clearly a warm recommendation.


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