Writing That Works : Communicating Effectively on the Job

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  • Edition: 10th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-10-06
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Combining clear advice on the writing process and almost 250 model documents from real workplace settings,Writing That Workssets the standard for business writing books. It reflects today's electronic workflow, addresses the most current types of business documents, in print and online, and provides practical, informative guidelines on designing documents, considering audience and purpose, and using digital technology in the workplace. The free companion Web site supports and expands upon the information in every chapter and offers tutorials, additional model documents, expanded Digital Tips, and much more.

Author Biography

WALTER E. OLIU served as chief of the Publishing Services Branch at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he managed the agency’s printing, graphics, editing, and publishing programs. He also developed the public-access standards for and managed daily operations of the agency’s public Web site. He has taught at Miami University of Ohio, Slippery Rock State University, and as an adjunct faculty member at Montgomery College and George Mason University.

CHARLES T. BRUSAW was a faculty member at NCR Corporation's Management College, where he developed and taught courses in professional writing, editing, and presentation skills for the corporation worldwide. Previously, he worked in advertising, technical writing, public relations, and curriculum development. He has been a communications consultant, an invited speaker at academic conferences, and a teacher of business writing at Sinclair Community College.

GERALD J. ALRED is Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where he teaches courses in the Graduate Professional Writing Program. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and several standard bibliographies on business and technical communication, and he serves as the Associate Editor of the Journal of Business Communication. He is a recipient of the prestigious Jay R. Gould Award for "profound scholarly and textbook contributions to the teaching of business and technical writing."

For Bedford/St. Martin's, all three are coauthors of The Business Writer's Handbook (2006); Handbook of Technical Writing (2006); The Business Writer's Companion (2005); and The Technical Writer's Companion (2002).

Table of Contents

PART ONE The Writing Process

Chapter 1 Assessing Audience and Purpose: A Case Study

Writing Systematically

Determining Your Purpose

Assessing Your Audience’s Needs

Considering the Context

Generating, Gathering, and Recording Ideas and Facts

Brainstorming • Using Other Sources of Information

Establishing Your Scope

Organizing Your Ideas

Writing for Results

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 2 Organizing Your Information


Traditional Roman Numeral Outline

Decimal Numbering System Outline

How Audience and Purpose Shape Organization: A Case Study

Essential Organizing Patterns




Division and Classification

Decreasing Order of Importance

Increasing Order of Importance

General to Specific

Specific to General


Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 3 Writing the Draft

Time-Management Tactics

Allocating Your Time

Preparing Your Work Environment

Remaining Flexible

Keeping Your Audience in Mind

Writing from the Audience’s Point of View

Accommodating Multiple Audiences

Writing for an International Audience

Persuading Your Audience

Establishing Your Role and Voice as the Writer

Development Strategies

Explaining a Process

Describing Information

Defining Terms and Concepts

Explaining Cause and Effect

Writing an Opening

Writing a Closing

Case Study: Drafting the Lifemaker Brochure

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 4 Revising the Draft

Content and Organization


Paragraph Unity


Transitions between Sentences • Transitions between Paragraphs


Active and Passive Voice


Parallel Structure


Other Ways to Achieve Emphasis

Point of View


Context and Word Choice


Redundancy • Padded Phrases


Sexist Language • Other Types of Biased Language

Plain Language

Affectation • Technical Terminology • Jargon


Physical Appearance

Case Study: Revising the Lifemaker Brochure

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects


Essential Skills: Collaboration, Research, and Design

Chapter 5 Collaborative Writing

Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaborative Writing

Functions of a Collaborative Writing Team


Research and Writing

Review and Revision

The Role of Conflict in Collaborative Writing

Leading a Collaborative Writing Team


Review Transmittal Sheet

Collaborating with Other Departments

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 6 Researching Your Subject

Conducting Primary Research: Experience, Interviews, Observations, and Questionnaires

Beginning with Experience

Interviewing for Information

Determining Whom to Interview • Preparing for the Interview •

Conducting the Interview • Expanding Your Notes after the Interview

Observing Firsthand

Using a Questionnaire

Selecting Questionnaire Recipients • Preparing and Designing Your Questionnaire

Conducting Secondary Research: The Library and the Internet

Library Research

Using Online Catalogs to Locate Books • Using Databases and Indexes to Locate Articles • Using Reference Works to Locate Facts, Overviews, and Statistics

Internet Research

Using Search Engines and Web Subject Directories • Locating Business and Government Sites

Evaluating, Recording, and Acknowledging Research Sources

Evaluating Sources

Authority • Accuracy • Bias • Currency

Taking Notes

Quoting from Your Sources

Direct Quotations • Indirect Quotations • Deletions or Omissions • Inserting Material into Quotations • Incorporating Quotations into Text



Avoiding Plagiarism and Copyright Violations

Acknowledging Your Sources • Common Knowledge • Copyright • Public Domain Materials • In-House Materials

Documenting Sources

APA Style

APA In-Text Citations • APA Citation Format for a References List •

APA Documentation Models • APA Sample Pages

MLA Style

MLA In-Text Citations • MLA Citation Format for a List of Works Cited • MLA Documentation Models • MLA Sample Pages

Other Style Manuals

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 7 Designing Effective Documents and Visuals

Designing Documents


Typeface • Type Size

Highlighting Devices

Typographical Devices • Headings and Captions • Headers and Footers • Rules, Icons, and Color

Page Design

Thumbnail Sketches • Columns • White Space • Left- or Full-Justified Margins • Lists • Illustrations

Creating Visuals

Designing and Integrating Visuals with Text



Line Graphs • Bar Graphs • Pie Graphs • Picture Graphs • Dimensional-Column Graphs



Organizational Charts



Highlighting Photographic Objects • Using Color

Using Graphics to Communicate Internationally

Colors • People, Parts of the Body, and Gestures • Cultural Symbols • Reading Practices • Directional Signs

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects


Writing at Work: From Principle to Practice

Chapter 8 Understanding the Principles of Business Communication

Selecting the Appropriate Medium


Instant Messages




Telephone and Conference Calls

Voice-Mail Messages

Face-to-Face Meetings


Web Communication

Developing Style and Tone

Audience and Writing Style

Goodwill and the "You" Viewpoint

Structuring Effective Correspondence

Direct and Indirect Patterns



Clarity and Emphasis

Lists • Headings

Subject Lines

Observing Protocol

Organizational Rank • Copy Protocol

Meeting the Deadline: The Time-Sensitive Message

Writing E-mail and Instant Messages

Review and Confidentiality Implications

Observing Netiquette

Design Considerations

Salutations, Closings, and Signature Blocks

Writing and Managing Instant Messages

Designing Memos

Memo Format and Parts

Additional Pages

Designing Letters


Inside Address



Complimentary Close

Writer’s Signature Block

Continuing Pages

End Notations

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 9 Writing Business Correspondence

Routine and Positive Messages

Covers (or Transmittals)



Responses to Inquiries

Sales and Promotions

Sensitive and Negative Messages





Writing International Correspondence

Culture and Business Writing Style

Language and Usage

Dates, Time, and Measurement

Cross-Cultural Examples

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 10 Writing Informal Reports

Planning and Writing Informal Reports

Considering Audience

Collecting Information

Parts of the Informal Report

Introduction • Body • Conclusions and Recommendations

Types of Informal Reports

Trouble Reports

Investigative Reports

Progress and Periodic Reports

Progress Reports • Periodic Reports

Trip Reports

Test Reports

Chapter Summary • Exercises x • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 11 Writing Formal Reports

Transmittal Letter or Memo

Front Matter

Title Page


Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables



List of Abbreviations and Symbols


Executive Summary


Introducing the Subject • Stating the Purpose • Stating the Scope • Previewing How the Topic Will Be Developed

Text (Body)

Headings • Explanatory Notes • Graphic and Tabular Matter



Works Cited (or References)

Back Matter





Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 12 Writing Instructions

Planning Instructions

Learn to Perform the Operation Yourself

Assess Your Audience and Purpose

Coworkers • Consumers • International Readers

Organize the Instructions

Writing Instructions

Write Directly to Your Reader

Include Warnings and Cautions

Language of Warnings • Visual Symbols and Signal Words

Using Illustrations and Design Principles

Illustrate for Clarity

Design for Ease of Use

Testing for Usability

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 13 Writing Proposals

Planning and Writing Proposals

Audience and Purpose

Project Management

Repurposing Content (Boilerplate)


Persuasive Writing

Internal Proposals

Routine Internal Proposals

Formal Internal Proposals

External Proposals

Solicited Proposals

Unsolicited Proposals

Grant and Research Proposals

Cover Letter • Title Page • Introduction • Project Abstract • Literature Review • References • Project Narrative • Program Description • Project Outcomes • Budget • Project Schedule • Project Conclusion

Sales Proposals

Meeting the Deadline: The Time-Sensitive Proposal

Requests for Proposals

RFP Structure

Information about Your Company • Project Description • Delivery Schedule • Proposal Description • Vendor Qualifications • Proposal-Evaluation Criteria • Appendixes

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 14 Giving Presentations and Conducting Meetings

Preparing and Delivering Presentations

Determining Your Purpose

Analyzing Your Audience

Gathering Information

Structuring Your Presentation

Introduction • Body • Closing • Transitions

Using Visual Aids

Using Presentation Software • Using Flip Charts, Whiteboards, and Chalkboards • Using Overhead Transparencies and Slides • Using Handouts

Delivering Your Presentation

Practicing Your Presentation • Using Delivery Techniques That Work • Dealing with Presentation Anxiety

Reaching Global Audiences


Fallacies about Listening

Steps to More-Effective Listening

Make a Conscious Decision • Define Your Purpose • Take Specific Actions • Adapt to the Situation

Meeting the Deadline: The Time-Sensitive Presentation

Conducting Productive Meetings

Planning a Meeting

What Is the Purpose of the Meeting? • Who Should Attend? • When Should the Meeting Be Held? • Where Should the Meeting Be Held? • What’s on the Agenda?

Running a Meeting

Dealing with Conflict • Making a Record of Decisions and Assignments • Closing the Meeting

Taking Minutes

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 15 Writing for the Web: Rhetorical Principles

Writing for Rapid Consumption

Crafting Content for the Web

Using the Inverted Pyramid

Using a Simple Style and an Appropriate Tone

Writing Concisely

Chunking Content

Linking to Internal Content

Linking to External Content

Highlighting Information

Using Headings and Subheadings

Using Bulleted and Numbered Lists

Giving Directional Cues

Providing Keywords for Content Retrieval

Using Graphics and Typography

Graphics • Font Size and Style • Line Length • Special Font Characters

Enhancing Access to Content

Ensuring Access for People with Disabilities

Considering International Users

Repurposing Existing Content

Protecting the Privacy of Your Users

Documenting Sources of Information

Contributing to Collaborative and Multimedia Content


Writing for Organizational Blogs • Tagging Blog Postings




Questions to Include • Placement

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects

Chapter 16 Finding the Right Job

Determining the Best Job for You


Campus Career Services

Web Resources


Trade and Professional Journal Listings

Private and Temporary Employment Agencies


Government Employment Services

Letters of Inquiry and Informational Interviews

Job Search Recordkeeping

Preparing an Effective Résumé

Analyzing Your Background

Organizing Your Résumé

The Heading • Job Objective • Qualifications Summary • Education • Employment Experience • Related Skills and Abilities • Honors and Activities • References • Portfolios • Salary

Electronic Résumés

Scannable and Plain-Text Résumés • E-mail–Attached Résumés • Web Résumés

Sample Résumés

Writing an Effective Letter of Application

Opening Paragraph

Body Paragraphs

Closing Paragraph

Sample Letters

Doing Well in the Interview

Before the Interview

During the Interview

Behavior • Responses • Salary Negotiations • Conclusion

Sending Follow-up Correspondence

Sending a Resignation Letter or Memo

Chapter Summary • Exercises • Collaborative Classroom Projects • Research Projects


Revision Guide: Sentences, Punctuation, and Mechanics

Proofreaders’ Marks


Sentence Faults

Run-on Sentences and Comma Splices

Sentence Fragments

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers


Pronoun Case

Determining Case • Using Who or Whom

Pronoun Reference

Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

Person • Gender • Number

Adjectives and Adverbs

Comparatives and Superlatives



Subject-Verb Agreement

Intervening Words • Inverted Word Order • Collective Subjects • Compound Subjects • Indefinite Pronouns • Relative Pronouns • Singular Nouns Ending in -s • Book Titles • Subject Complements






Linking Independent Clauses

Introducing Elements

Clauses and Phrases • Words • Quotations

Enclosing Elements

Separating Elements

Items in a Series • Adjectives • Dates • Numbers • Addresses • Names

Using Commas with Other Punctuation

Avoiding Unnecessary Commas




Showing Possession

Singular Nouns • Plural Nouns • Compound Nouns • Coordinate Nouns • Possessive Pronouns

Indicating Omission

Forming Plurals

Quotation Marks

Identifying Quotations

Setting Off Words, Phrases, and Titles

Words and Phrases • Titles of Works

Using Quotation Marks with Other Punctuation


Question Marks

Exclamation Marks

Parentheses and Brackets


Linking Modifiers

Separating Prefixes and Suffixes

Other Uses






Proper Nouns • Common Nouns • First Words • Specific Groups • Specific Places • Specific Institutions, Events, Concepts • Titles of Works • Professional and Personal Titles • Abbreviations, Letters, and Units


Words or Figures • Plurals • Measurements • Time and Dates • Addresses • Documents


Names of Organizations • Measurements • Personal Names and Titles


Foreign Words and Phrases • Titles • Proper Names • Words, Letters, and Figures • Subheads

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Count and Mass Nouns



Gerunds and Infinitives

Adjective Clauses

Verb Tenses

Present Perfect • Present Progressive

Helping Verbs

Conditional Sentences


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