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The Fundamentals

Use animations to illustrate processes, to entertain, and to engage readers' attention.

An animation can be as simple as a GIF file that blinks on and off and as complicated as online screen movie. Many of the clever animations you see online today are for amusement or artistic purposes. In time, more prosaic uses may be employed--as people become more comfortable with the software needed to created an animated images.

Examples

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  1. Big Bunny. This is a playful site for kids or anyone who wants to be cheered up.
  2. Animated Eye. Move the mouse around to see the eye move.
  3. Modern Living. Various animations designed to poke fun at modern living.
  4. Exploratorium. Various animations requiring Macromedia Flash or Shockwave plug-ins.
  5. Map of the Human Heart augments its explanation of how the heart functions with an animation.
  6. Zen: The Seat of Enlightenment. Zen meditation instructions.

However great…natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once. --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Read, read, read…Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. --William Faulkner

You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.--Doris Lessing

 Learning Outcomes

  • Apply and adapt professional/technical writing conventions, including genre, tone, and style for particular writing situations.
  • Compose professional/technical documents and oral presentations for multiple audiences and specific purposes by using current technologies.
  • Design and implement information literacy strategies.

Now that you are familiar with some generally useful library and internet resources, here are some important journals in the field of professional and technical communication.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the rules that govern written language.
  2. Understand the legal implications of business writing.

You may not recall when or where you learned all about nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, articles, and phrases, but if you understand this sentence we’ll take for granted that you have a firm grasp of the basics. But even professional writers and editors, who have spent a lifetime navigating the ins and outs of crafting correct sentences, have to use reference books to look up answers to questions of grammar and usage that arise in the course of their work. Let’s examine how the simple collection of symbols called a word can be such a puzzle.

The term "professional writing" commonly refers broadly to texts written for business purposes such as business letters, reviews and recommendations, feasibility studies, progress reports, and application materials.  In turn, "technical writing" refers to documents that often explain technical processes or explain how to do something, such as technical descriptions and instructions and process reports.

Professional and Technical Writing texts share many similarities with traditional academic writing genres, such as an emphasis on clarity, succinctness, and thesis-driven, deductively organized texts.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify six basic qualities that characterize good business writing.
  2. Identify and explain the rhetorical elements and cognate strategies that contribute to good writing.

One common concern is to simply address the question, what is good writing? As we progress through our study of written business communication we’ll try to answer it. But recognize that while the question may be simple, the answer is complex. Edward P. Bailey [1] offers several key points to remember.

Getting Started

Introductory Exercises

  1. Review the different kinds of common business communication writing covered by the main headings in this chapter. Make a note of which kinds of documents you have produced in the past and which you have not. For example, have you written many memos but not a business report? Share and compare with classmates.
  2. Conduct an online search for job descriptions associated with your chosen career and think about what tasks are accomplished in a typical day or week. If possible, also talk to someone who is employed in that career. Note the kinds of writing skills that are involved in carrying out job duties or tasks. Share your results with the class.

Overview: This article will discuss the role of assembling and organizing relevant research and/or data in order to compose correspondence or a document that solves a writing problem.

  • Compose an evidence-based solution for a writing problem by assembling and organizing relevant research and/or data

Introduction

Composing involves more than putting your thoughts into words. Composing involves assembling ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, and visuals to accurately, ethically, and coherently address a writing situation.

JOURNALISM: Gathering Information and Writing Your Story

University of Delaware Professor Ben Yagoda defines journalism as, “uncovering timely and previously not well-known information that, according to agreed-upon standards, is important; and conveying it to the public clearly, accurately, concisely, disinterestedly, and independently.” As a journalist, the stories you write are meant to provide true facts to readers about issues or news going on in the world today. They are meant to be truthful, unbiased, and informative.

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs.

Interact

Tables and graphs enable you to reach visual learners. When you select information for graphical representation, you are highlighting its significance. In some disciplines, particularly the sciences, readers expect authors to condense complicated information into charts and graphs. Many readers will scan a document's charts, tables, and graphs before reading any text.

Learning Objectives

  • analyze a writing problem and outline a plan for solving the problem that illustrates and analyzes audience while creating various professional/technical documents with a sophisticated awareness of audience as a reader and a writer.
  • operate current technologies in order to produce effective documents.

Types and Benefits of Planning

A recent survey of more than 250 working professionals provides valuable insights into how they view their own writing. By suggesting pragmatic ways to improve the writing of emails, memos, and reports, the article also helps students strengthen their job skills as they prepare for their own careers.

SURVEY FINDINGS

Exactly what did the survey reveal? While you can see all questions and replies in the accompanying tables, the following responses provoked the most curiosity:

  • Around 68 percent of workplace writers have confidence in their ability to write but only 42 percent of them get started easily—leaving a notable fifty-eight percent of workplace writers still struggling to get started easily--leaving a notable fifty-eight percent of workplace writers still struggling to get started..

Use visual brainstorming to develop and organize your ideas.

Like cluster/spider maps, hierarchical maps involve drawing a graphical representation of ideas. Unlike clustering, cluster/spider maps are chiefly concerned with analyzing relationships among ideas.

When Are Hierarchical Maps Useful?

Mapping is a useful organizing and revising tool when you want to see if you've made connections clear among ideas or if you've gone off on a tangent.

Learning Objective

  1. Describe some common barriers to written communication and how to overcome them.

In almost any career or area of business, written communication is a key to success. Effective writing can prevent wasted time, wasted effort, aggravation, and frustration. The way we communicate with others both inside of our business and on the outside goes a long way toward shaping the organization’s image. If people feel they are listened to and able to get answers from the firm and its representatives, their opinion will be favorable. Skillful writing and an understanding of how people respond to words are central to accomplishing this goal.

How do we display skillful writing and a good understanding of how people respond to words? Following are some suggestions.

Add video to enrich or supplant printed texts.

New communication technologies enable authors to incorporate streaming multimedia into their webs. 

Writers may provide video to:

  1. Underscore the content of the print text, illustrating key concepts.  For example, an agency hoping to secure funds for hungry people could show video of their living conditions.
  2. Illustrate the content of the printed text.  A researcher could provide video of people he or she interviewed.  A technical writer could provide a screen-movie to show users how to complete instructions.
  3. Inform or persuade people who respond more positively to an engaging speaker than printed texts.