Writing Commons, the encyclopedia for writers, speakers, knowledge makers . . .

Get everything you need to improve your writing in one place. Communicate with greater clarity, confidence, credibility—and more.

Collaboration | Design | Editing | Evidence | Genre | Information Literacy | Invention | Organization | Mindset | Research | Revision | Rhetoric | Style | Writing Studies

Collaboration

Don’t lose sleep over collaborative work or critique. Master the interpersonal competencies prized by employers. Learn to manage co-authorship, peer review, and conflicts with collaborators. Practice self-leadership, team leadership, conflict resolution, and project management.

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Design

Engage the power of design, the power of visual language, to advance the clarity and persuasiveness of your communications, products, applications, and services. Learn how to use data visualization; design elements, design principles, and design tools to innovate, solve problems, and communicate. Practice universal design and page design to aid comprehension and establish a professional text and appropriate ethos.

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Editing

Learn to write clearly and persuasively by knowing when and how to edit texts. Earn the respect of your audience (bosses, clients, teachers). Use stylistic elements and rhetorical reasoning to edit texts for concision; clarity; flow, coherence, unity; and simplicity. Proofread for diction, grammar, and mechanics.

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Evidence

Learn how to use evidence strategically in workplace and academic writing. Be aware of the conventions, policies, and laws that govern the use of evidence and intellectual property: plagiarism, ethics, professional codes of conduct, citation style and citation tools. Learn how to weave others’ ideas and language into your texts in ways that support your thesis/research question, hypothesis, purpose, and rhetorical stance.

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Genre

Genre is a type of text, a type of composition, that shares a particular aim, style, organization, technique, or form. Genres are templates. Genres reflect commonplace ways of communicating in reoccurring rhetorical situations. You can save time and communicate more effectively by rhetorically analyzing the genre conventions that inform a particular rhetorical situation. Understand the conventions and values undergirding academic, business, scientific, and literary genres.

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Information Literacy

Information Literacy is a critical perspective, a point of view, a critical literacy lens that guides how people consume, evaluate, produce, use, and archive information.

Avoid being duped. Don’t be fooled by the rhetorician’s tricks. Learn to think for yourself. Nurture your imagination: be open to existing scholarly conversations on the topic. Be a critical consumer and producer of information. Check the archive to find out what the current status is of the scholarly conversation on that topic. Critically evaluate information: distinguish fake news from real news. Question the accuracy; authority; currency; purpose and relevance of truth claims. Be aware of unethical uses of information, including plagiarism.

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Invention

Don’t underestimate yourself. Invention may not be easy, but it’s possible. Develop your creative potential. Nurture your imagination: be open to critique, collaboration, and existing scholarly conversations on the topic. Learn to work with felt sense. Experiment with heuristics  (e.g., document planners, journalistic questions, Burke’s Pentad). Freewrite and engage in informal writing (e.g., journal writing) to experience firsthand the generative power of language. Engage in rhetorical analysis of the problem space/solution space. Prioritize believing over doubting.

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Mindset

Mindset @ Writing Commons puts the spotlight on the psyche of the writer. Learn about the role of the writer’s emotions, attitudes, personality, behaviors/work ethic, and strategic planning on writing development and writing processes.

Explore the importance of your mindset to your success as a writer and speaker.  Affirm and invest in yourself; embrace your potential; and assume responsibility over your learning and development as a writer. Master the intrapersonal competencies prized by employers. Adopt a growth mindset, intellectual openness, metacognition and self-regulation, professionalism and work ethic, and resilience.

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Organization

Understand the role of organization as a mode of reasoning (deductive and inductive). Enhance the logical development of your ideas by focusing on organizational structure—schemas—across whole texts as well as sections of texts, paragraphs, sentences, and words.

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Research

Solve problems at work, school, and in your personal life. Learn the rules of the road for conducting textual research and empirical research methods. Explore the epistemological assumptions that inform qualitative, quantitative, mixed, and textual research methods.

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Revision

Develop substantive prose by engaging in sustained efforts at revision. Understand the importance of rhetoric, invention, information literacy, and style to revision. Write more effectively by being strategic about how you revise documents. Prioritize revision at the global, rhetorical level.

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Rhetoric

Avoid being duped by the rhetorician’s tricks of persuasion. Learn to think for yourself by deepening your Rhetorical Knowledge.

Rhetorical Reasoning and Rhetorical Analysis—these rhetorical strategies (aka tools) can help you ascertain why people say what they say and do what they do.

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Style

Style matters. A lot. A writer’s, speaker’s, knowledge worker’s . . . style impacts whether readers will review and comprehend a text. For instance, if a writer employs pompous, vague, abstract language, readers are likely to ignore it. If a text lacks a focus—a thesis, research question, hypothesis—readers may dismiss the work as writer-based. When diction fails to account for the connotations of words, people can respond emotionally in ways the writer never imagined. Thus, it’s important to check the register for a text from multiple perspectives. This is especially true in school and workplace contexts where an inappropriate style can result in dire consequences.

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Writing Studies

Learn about the research, theory, and scholarship that informs Writing Commons.

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