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The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving
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The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing, Thinking, & Problem Solving

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,903 ratings  ·  118 reviews
This work has been designed as an aid to the logical presentation of business communications. Topics covered range from the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning, to a discussion of how to highlight the structure of information.
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by Minto International (first published June 28th 1987)
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A generation ago, this was an important bestselling book about structured informational writing. It shows how to organise information clearly and persuasively. Nowadays, it is of historical interest, more than practical use.

Start with your Conclusion

Ideas at any level in the pyramid must always be summaries of the ideas grouped below them.

That is the main concept of this. It’s one long known and followed by any competent journalist, but equally applicable in business and technical writing.

Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
This is my all time favorite book on persuasive writing. As of this review date, I have read the book thirteen times. My goal for this abundant contact has been to super learn the concepts, which are otherwise difficult to perceive with only passing exposure.

I came upon this book in 1994 when my partner's girlfriend who was then the librarian at McKinsey and Company (NYC), the world famous management consultancy, lent the book to me, saying that it was considered the "Bible" of writing process a
Richard Newton
Oh dear. A clear example of how even the best professional books age badly.

I'm having a flurry of reading professional books right now. I can't read them all the time, so I swallow them in batches. And now it is the turn of the Pyramid Principle. For those who don't know The Pyramid Principle is one of the classic books of the consulting industry. I first came across it over 25 years ago when I was working for the consultancy A.T. Kearney. Whilst never exactly a fun read, it then seemed like goo
As a philosophy major, I appreciate how Minto has provided an efficient presentation of concepts of argumentation that one could spend a lifetime learning from the long history of available scholarship. As an MBA student, I see that the book is too complicated and too cumbersome to be useful to my peers. This is a book that requires focused study, and my peers have neither the bandwidth nor the necessary background to do that.

How I found out about this book was at a business writing seminar that
Adam Rabiner
I finally got to this book after many years of having it sit on my shelf. I don't think it has aged very well. It's well written (as a book on logical and good thinking and writing should be) but in an age of iPhone apps and software I am not certain that a book is the best tool for practicing the Pyramid Principle. There's too much reading and not enough doing and practice. The early chapters are easier to comprehend. Some of the later chapters are particularly dense and harder to follow. While ...more
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: growth
1. The structure permits you to see the flaws and omissions.

2. An idea statement raises a question in the reader’s mind because you are telling him something he does not know. The writer will continue to write, raising and answering questions, until he reaches a point at which he judges the reader will have no more logical questions. The way to ensure the reader's attention is to refrain from raising any question in the reader’s mind before you are ready to answer them. Any point you
David R.
There's a nugget of a very good technique here, but the illustrative and diagnostic material is often obscure and difficult to follow. Some executives will become excited at the goal of this book, no doubt, but in the insufficient inertia will be generated to move beyond the fad phase.
Chikai Huang
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why isn't this a school text book?!
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book introduces a structured approach, called the Pyramid Principle, which is a logical ordering of the ideas presented in a written document. Author argues that this is a top-down ordering of ideas, and more understandable by readers. Abstract concepts are in the beginning (the top of the pyramid). These ideas are then refined using induction and deduction in the rest of the writing (the lower layers of the pyramid). Each of the lower levels support the upper, more abstract layers in a str ...more
Sam Stagg
A turgid, dated slog. Barbara Minto appears to believe so deeply in "substance over style" that she has eschewed any sense of style whatsoever. Example quotes from Keynes, Chesterton, and Thoreau are glasses of water in the desert.

And yet. The idea of putting business writing in this format is compelling. I'd like to think this book has improved the structure of my writing already, and I will be recommending it to others.

If you believe you can absorb the message of this book without actually hav
Matthew Geleta
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a superbly practical and readable book. It immediately improved my own writing. Definitely a recommendation for anyone regularly engaged in business writing.
Allan Leung
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Brad Revell
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-tos, wealth
The Pyramid Principle is a classic book written by Barbara Minto back in the late 80s. The approach and structure of this book has survived the test of times and it is now up to its 3rd edition. I read it in the mid-2000s after it being recommended by the Manager-Tools team and recently re-read it again.

For those that struggle with business writing, Minto provides a structure on how to lay out your thoughts as well as take into consideration the reader so that you can maximise the message that g
Fabio Moioli
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb book with many valuable recommendations and tips for writing well-structured business documents. The framework described in it is highly effective in any non-narrative writing and it is used in most top-class consultancy firms.

The book is also good for gaining some insight on hypothesis-led problem solving, both in the case of inductive and in the case of deductive reasoning. In this respect, it is full of examples that challenge unstructured and unorganized thinking and writing.

It ma
Jun 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Very simple but powerful method of putting a little structure into your thoughts so that you can weave a compelling story for your audience. I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to broaden their skills in presentation and make their writing more succinct.
Sotiris Makrygiannis
rather good but not perfect. takes a philosophers approach on itemising problems and issues and using deductive or inductive approach on solving them. boring at same stage.
Utkarsh Modi
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book # 36 The Minto Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing Thinking and Problem Solving

I chanced upon this book (one of the early 1989 editions) from an ex-consultant friend. Cursory glances on virtual bookshelves and passing references about it in other readings aside, I had expected the book to be a bland textbook manual instructing you about what you already know - in one way it is - and in more than one ways I was wrong.

Barbara Minto - an ex Mckinsey consultant, documents a well defined structu
Why This Book Was Written: This is the handbook that every management or strategy consultant should keep at his/her desk.

Synthesis: Written by a McKinsey consultant, this is a legendary book that walks through how to solve problems effectively and present them using a method called Pyramid Logic pioneered by the author. This is the central framework used by the top management consultants and business analysts today. This book is probably the only guide a consultant needs to read before setting o
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I gave this 4 stars not so much because it was a pleasure to read (it's not, it reads like a text book) but because of the sheer importance of what Minto lays out in terms of business writing.

If you are a written communicator for business, or a technical writer, this book is extremely important. It will help you think logically, and write logically - in a way that will compel your reader to arrive at the same conclusions you have. It will tell you:
- how to structure your document logically in t
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is book is very helpful for my business writing. Most importantly, it instilled an idea of putting "Question" first.

As a consultant, I understand usually how many seconds a senior executives would take to read your memo and appreciate this pyramid principle to always remind myself using the SCQ framework, which is "Situation, Complication, and Question". A lot of time, the Question is implied in the introduction paragraph without explicitly stating them.

Equally important, the five questio
Jordan Jackson
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are not many books that permanently improve your life. The Minto Method gave me a way to think about conveying ideas with clarity and a framework to apply this logic to the presentation of any type of information.

I learned that clarity in writing is about abstraction and structure.

Abstraction is the culmination of the complex underpinnings expressed in a simple and specific manner such that is helps the reader quickly grasp the main idea that you want to express.

Structure starts with th
Kenna Reed
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Pyramid Principle is one of the most powerful writing approaches for business. My dogeared book travels with me from job to job and I recommend it to all.
I was going to rate it 4 stars only because I want it to come with a 'cheat sheet' - a one pager that I can point to and explain in 30 seconds. The truth is, I've used the book far too much to rate it any less than 5 stars.
If you write for business, if you need to 'sell' an idea in 30 seconds or less, if you need to synthesize complex idea
Stefan Bruun
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book to see if it would be valuable for training new hires and while I've previously learned a lot of the concepts throughout work life so far, I should have picked up the book much earlier. The book describes clearly how to use logic in thinking, problem solving, and communications. I'll recommend this book to anyone who isn't deeply familiar with the subject (it did have a few points i hadn't picked up from learning "on the job").
Graeme Gourlay
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book and attended a course run personally by Barbara Minto in 1995. My background is biased towards Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths and my reason for the book and the course was to address a deficiency in my education: how to structure and write effective communications. I have applied the learnings from this book literally hundreds of times. The results I achieved from the applying the techniques were immediate and long lasting.
Alexandar Nikolov
I wish all the emails, reports and articles I read were structured according to the guidance in this book. It would have made my life easier.
I take few advices on how to improve my thought process and its articulation and I expect that I will get back to the book more than once in the future.
Nevertheless, this is a niche reading, and it isn’t something that I would widely recommend to everyone.
Petras Lenkutis
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book written in style it describes, so logically well built, top of pyramid at beginning, thus it becomes harder and harder to read it it the end. Non-fiction for sure, more like instruction that needs to be kept in a book-self for revisit once your are in task to put some info down on paper or slides.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some good, concrete, advice for generating the structure of your writing (eg, situation, complication, question, answer), and examples for specific documents, such as how-to docs, or progress reports. I will definitely use this method, but I will probably have to come back to the book as a checklist to remember what to do. The examples feel a bit dated in style and type.
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’ve started reading this as a self improving on how to write and structure more clearly and I’ve finished the book thinking:
* It is a generic enough so that represents a must read for improving writing and thinking skills
* It has a clear message on how to achieve your results
* It gives a structure for you to follow even when you don’t have a clear understanding of the problem
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The first third of this book alone does a better job of preparing you to write difficult proposals and documents than any college course I've seen or direct tutoring. Say what you will about McKinsey, but this book is an excellent guide in creating a framework for comprehensible, simple writing of incredibly complex topics.
Kyle Farris
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought
I found the meat of this book to be far too abstract for such a principled writer. Maybe I read it too quickly. The big points, when you find them, are absolutely fantastic (I.e. MECE). That’s why it is 4 stars. Probably better to read a summary though!
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