Policies define and help find solutions for problems within the business community, society, and government. When presenting a policy, you want to guide the reader through your thought process, research, findings, and recommendations so they can understand why you are suggesting a given solution to address an issue. You can do this by using a policy brief template to structure your document.
What Is a Policy Brief?
A policy brief is a short report prepared to present possible solutions to a given problem to policymakers. Generally, the document defines a particular social problem, summarizes your research on the issue, and suggests a policy based on your findings. Policy briefs come in two main types: advocacy briefs that argue one policy and objective briefs that present data on several policies.
What Is a Policy Brief Template?
A policy brief template is a printable file containing the key elements of a policy brief, including the executive summary, introduction, research overview, findings, and conclusion. You can use it to record the data from your research and come up with a presentable document.
Elements of an Effective Policy Brief
Four things make a policy brief different from other documents used to present policies to policymakers. These elements are as follows:
Policy briefs need to have a specific purpose, which means they must address a given issue and suggest possible solutions. When drafting your policy brief, a clear purpose will prevent you from losing focus and deviating from the topic at hand.
A policy brief should also be written with a specific target audience in mind. Who are your prospective readers? What are their interests? What is their level of knowledge on the problem you are addressing? How willing are they to accept your solutions?
Thirdly, policy briefs need to be precise and about 1,500 words long. They should be clear, easy to understand, written in plain language, and not overly descriptive about research methodology.
A well-structured policy brief should flow effortlessly from the problem to the recommended solution. It should have headings and subheadings that direct the reader’s attention to your key findings.
Policy Brief (Free Templates & Examples)
How to Write a Policy Brief
A Policy Brief Template allows you to present evidence-based solutions to readers in an effort to help them make sound decisions. It provides research findings to an audience in a language they can understand and relate to. To do this, this document must stand alone, focus on one issue, and be comprehensive without being too much. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you draft it:
Step 1: Draft an Executive Summary
Start your document with a brief executive summary (usually placed on the cover or top of the first page) that captures your argument. The overview should be one or two paragraphs, although it could also be formatted as several bullet points.
Tip: Always write the executive summary last when you have a more wholesome view of the policy brief.
Step 2: Introduce Your Policy
Next, help the reader understand why you are writing this policy brief and why the topic is important to them. Do this in one or two paragraphs that highlight your analysis, findings, and conclusions. You want the reader to understand what your brief is about so they can continue reading.
Step 3: Review Your Research
Here, define the problem you intend to solve with your recommendations. Summarize the topic, context, and research methods without interpreting them. The goal is to define these two elements:
Research approach: How was the research conducted? Who conducted it? What data collection methods did you use? etc.
Research results: What were your general findings?
Remember not to go into too much detail in this section.
Step 4: Discuss Your Findings
In this section, interpret the data provided in step 3 and explain how it relates to your policy recommendations. Be very balanced and objective in your arguments – don’t force the reader to see what the data doesn’t show.
Step 5: Conclude
In conclusion, outline your recommendations based on your findings of the problem. This is where you present your policy advice.
Step 6: Revise Your Document
Finally, go through your policy brief to check whether it conveys the message you want it to. You can ask someone who has never interacted with the issue to read through it and give you feedback.
How to Design Your Policy Brief
How you present the content of your policy brief is just as important as what you say in it. A well-designed brief is captivating, convincing, and easy to navigate. Once you have all the information you need for your document, arrange it using the following design elements:
- Titles and Subheadings – Always start your document with a strong, captivating title that entices the reader to keep reading your policy brief. Use informative subheadings to break the content into palatable potions to maintain the reader’s interest.
- Sidebars – Brief, descriptive sidebars can enlighten the reader on the topic in a more meaningful way. They provide more information on the subject so the reader can engage with it.
- Graphics – Present your findings using bar graphs, images, and pie charts instead of data tables. Consider adding captions under these visuals to explain the content.
- Lists – Lists are visually appealing and can capture your reader’s attention. Break down heavy paragraphs into palatable lists that highlight the most crucial information.
Tips for Writing a Policy Brief
When your policy brief is comprehensive and well-designed, your reader will understand the content more easily. They will have fewer questions about your recommendations, increasing the chances of successful policy execution. Here are some writing tips to help you achieve this:
Use an attention-grabbing title that will capture the attention of your readers.
- Always help the reader understand why they should care about finding a solution for the issue.
- When building on existing policies, always refer to and briefly quote them for context.
- Supply some recommendations and notes at the end of your document to facilitate further debate on the matter.
- List all your sources so your content is regarded as credible, trustworthy, and objective.
It is always important to familiarize yourself with the existing policies that address the matter covered in your policy brief. When you do this, you can better tailor your approach to either build on, support, refute, or modify past recommendations. That said, if your research is relatively new, it is okay to focus your policy brief template on the topic at hand as long as you cite your sources.