BLUF Meaning: How Military Writing Can Improve Your Content

Utilizing specific military techniques for writing reports and documents can help improve content readability and improve reader response. In addition, it makes it easier to understand context from the beginning.

Updated: May 31, 2024
BLUF Meaning: How Military Writing Can Improve Your Content

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Capturing the attention of consumers with your content is becoming more and more difficult every day.

Busy schedules and decreasing attention spans are burying your best messages.

Since consumers now spend more time scanning, you’ll need to find a way to leap out at them and snag their attention quickly.

Enter the military writing standard: BLUF.

When it comes to crafting content, the last thing you may be thinking about is utilizing military order. While the two sound as if they could never go hand in hand, you may find that the BLUF technique can serve you well.

You don’t have to be a five-star general to make the BLUF technique work.

Gain control over your content marketing by reading more below about this technique and how it can benefit you and your brand.

    Introduction to BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front)

    If you or someone you know serves (or served) in the military, you may already be aware that these organizations consistently employ acronyms.

    The BLUF acronym stands for bottom line up front.

    Essentially, BLUF is a structure that presents the conclusion at the beginning of a piece of content. This technique gives the reader a clear understanding of what is included in the document.

    It does not mean, however, repeating your bottom line at the top of the document.

    Also, BLUF is not a summary of your overall content.

    BLUF is the actual conclusion of the content upfront.

    In most cases, it is even tagged with BLUF at the very beginning. For example:

    BLUF: Website conversions for the month of July are down slightly, which has a significant correlation between summer holidays and the high percentage of our target market being on vacation during this time period.

    Jan-Erik Asplund of Animalz puts it this way.

    “BLUF, if you apply it consistently throughout your writing, is a way of organizing your thoughts and understanding the narrative that lets you yield your central points to your reader as quickly as possible.”

    BLUF originated in military communications and slowly found its way into professional and business writing once its efficiency, effectiveness, and value were realized. Today, you can find examples of BLUF in both journalism and academia.

    Overall, the true purpose of BLUF is to improve clarity and efficiency in communication.

    Today’s consumers are busy, and they value their time. Providing the main point clearly and precisely snags their attention and piques their curiosity.

    BLUF in Military Training and Guidelines

    So, where does it come from? 

    The BLUF Technique is actually included in military guidelines and training. 

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with how organizations like the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force operate and their reliance on formal guidelines.

    For those who are curious, BLUF is specifically mentioned in Army Regulation 25–50: Information Management: Records Management: Preparing and Managing Correspondence.

    In chapter one, it outlines how individuals should use this style to create all reports, documents, emails, and memos.

    Remember, the goal is to try to save time for commanders who are in the field or otherwise need information more quickly. 

    This is why the BLUF Technique is formally part of the process of creating documents in a military setting.

    Key Benefits of Using BLUF

    Simply put, BLUF is a concise framework to help you create effective messaging.

    The top benefits of using BLUF, whether in business writing or content marketing, include:

    • Clarity: BLUF presents the main point clearly and immediately. Readers will grasp your idea right away without having to dig through pages of text.

    • Efficiency: BLUF saves time by getting straight to the point. By sharing the conclusion first, you guide your audience through the details that helped you reach your conclusion more efficiently.

    • Engagement: Capturing the reader’s attention early increases the likelihood of them reading the entire message. Once engaged, your audience will want to learn more about how you reached the key determination presented at the start.

    Why Should You Learn How to BLUF?

    By learning to keep your most important information up front, you give your readers and website visitors the data they need to make key decisions more quickly and effectively.

    In turn, this can lead to a higher conversion rate and an improved time on page — simply due to the fact that they know very quickly whether the content you’re providing should answer their questions or give additional information that they didn’t already have access to.

    And this process works in other areas besides just written content, too.

    It’s a great practice for business and sales presentations, where giving the customer the most important information in the very beginning could save you both a ton of time and effort. 

    Especially if that’s the only thing they need before making a purchase decision.

    And it can also be used in formatting website pages, advertisements, and other pieces of content.

    Simply, by giving your audience or lead what they need to make a decision or take a stance from the very beginning, all you have to do is fill in the details from there. 

    In turn, this saves time and effort.

    Content Planning Kit

    Formatting BLUF in Your Content Writing

    Do you need to tag every opening statement with BLUF?

    Not really. It depends on the type of content and your overall buyer persona.

    If you’re simply writing an article for your website, then you could tag the top paragraph with the words bottom line or similar.

    But if your target customer is someone who might have been in the military in the past, you could go ahead and use BLUF. They’ll likely know what you’re talking about and appreciate the nod.

    You can also use a special visual call-out box, which makes it easier for your audience to spot right away.

    And it is also important to understand that there are times when you do not want to use BLUF as a writing technique.

    Why? It can sometimes come off as cold or impersonal.

    If you’re trying to create a conversational tone or persuade someone to do something, then it might not be the best option.

    However, at times when you’re attempting to report detailed information or create explanations of events and concepts, BLUF is very useful.

    How to Implement BLUF in Writing

    When implementing BLUF in your content creation, formatting is just as important as the text itself. Consider the following best practices for success:

    1. Place the Main Point First.

    Begin with critical information. To determine the key message or desired action, learn more audience and the topic itself.

    Steps to help include:

    2. Provide Supporting Details

    Follow up with necessary details, background, and context. Elaborate on the issue and how you reached your conclusion, without using long-winded or flowery language.

    3. Be Concise.

    Avoid wordiness and long explanations. Keep your writing tight and concise. However, keep in mind that you are not writing, in most cases, for a military audience. You may need to soften up the typical BLUF tone or else you may come off as cold.

    Examples of BLUF

    Improving your writing skills is essential today, or you can easily hire a content writing service to help. Below are examples of BLUF in different contexts to help you see how the technique works.


    In your emails, begin with a straightforward yet compelling subject line. Follow this with an opening line that conveys the key finding or benefit. From there, add supporting information, using scannable subheadings and bullet points when possible.

    For example:

    • Subject Line: Permission to Add You to Our New Customer Loyalty Program

    • Bottom Line: On June 1st, we will be opening our customer loyalty program to new customers. Will you be one of those new members?

    • Background: As someone who has purchased or interacted with our brand in the past, we would like to invite you to join our new loyalty program. Here’s what you need to know to begin enjoying the information and benefits that go along with it.


    Instead of beginning with an introduction and following with a traditional format, start with your key findings or recommendations.

    • BLUF: To increase lead generation in 2024, most brands will need to invest up to 20% more in digital marketing strategies.


    At the beginning of a presentation, share the main takeaway or call to action. This lets your audience know that you are knowledgeable about what you are presenting. It can also grab their attention and make them curious to hear more.

    • BLUF: Research shows that giving praise or admiration is more productive than giving criticism or negative feedback when it comes to motivating employees.

    Real-World Applications

    To gain a clearer understanding of the value of BLUF, take a look at these real-world examples.

    Business Communications

    Companies like Animalz use BLUF to streamline content and also to create a sense of urgency when needed. They often use emails to reach out to clients and use the bottom line upfront method to request action, for example, setting up a meeting to discuss the client’s needs or to solve a particular issue. In other words, they aren’t afraid to get to the point immediately.

    Educational Resources

    Carnegie Mellon University champions the use of BLUF in academic writing. The university even hands out a resource to students on the topic, as you can see here.

    Professional Development

    BLUF’s impact on professional communication continues to grow. You can find BLUF being discussed in various places online, including articles shared on Medium as well as the Lucid Meetings website.

    How Does BLUF Help Your Writing?

    The process of using the BLUF Technique in your writing offers several benefits.

    ➤ First, it gives you the main focus upfront. 

    This allows you to stay on that same train of thought without getting sidetracked along the way.

    ➤ In addition, it can make it easier to fill in the details of what you’re trying to communicate, sell, or even explain when you already have an idea of the final outcome. 

    Think of it as spoiling the ending before you’ve even started the introduction paragraph.

    ➤ Finally, it makes your overall writing tighter and more succinct. 

    In certain business documents, using fluff and flowery language isn’t appropriate. BLUF helps eliminate that issue by putting everything out front first.

    While BLUF isn’t ideal for every circumstance, it can be a good option for business reports, emails, or highly technical documents where getting to the main point swiftly is incredibly important.

    Additional Tips to Keep in Mind About Implementing BLUF

    For someone who has always used the bottom line at bottom (BLAB) technique, it might be difficult to instantly switch to BLUF. 

    And that’s perfectly understandable.

    To help you make the transition, here are a few additional tips to keep in mind about implementing BLUF.

    BLUF Isn’t Always a Good Idea

    There are certain times when you want to keep your conversation casual, build suspense, or increase rapport. 

    In that case, BLUF probably isn’t your best option.

    Putting Bottom Line is Better for Factual Content

    Persuasive content isn’t always a good idea for BLUF. 

    When you risk alienating your reader by including your controversial position in the beginning, you should usually skip it. 

    However, the process is excellent where you’re using the BLUF statement to quickly summarize facts, such as in an incident report.

    BLUF Can Seem Cold in Tone

    There’s a reason why the technique is preferred by the military. 

    It is quick, swift, and mostly unemotional — all elements necessary in a battlefield-centric niche.

    For those engaging in marketing, this can be seen as a negative, making it important to choose wisely when to utilize it.

    Conclusion: Benefit by Using BLUF at the Right Time

    If you’re looking for a better way to write business emails and other precision content, starting with the BLUF technique is a good idea.

    Be sure it is the right fit for your overall tone, audience, and information delivery system first.

    With BLUF, you can convey information quickly and help your readers focus while providing details to support your conclusion or recommendation.

    Placing the bottom line up front can lead to better understanding and faster decision-making on behalf of your readers.

    Scale Your Content With The Help of WriterAccess

    Crafting the various forms of content you need today takes time and skill. Help, however, is not far away. Whether you wish to make your writing more powerful with the BLUF technique or need help scaling your overall content, WriterAccess is here to help. Try our 14-day free trial today.


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