course pack professional writing
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27 pages
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course pack professional writing

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COURSE PACKAGE GEB 5214 Dr. Dorothy McCawley Center for Management Communication Florida MBA Programs BRY 125F P.O. Box 117150 Gainesville, FL 32611-7150 Office Phone: (352) 273-3213 e-mail: dorothy.mccawley@cba.ufl.edu This course package is designed to supplement some of the principles and strategies we are discussing in class this semester. If you read the relevant sections that follow, along with our lecture slides and the chapters in our textbook, you should get a picture of the most influential writing principles for business. Of course, if you are still confused or not completely clear about anything, please contact me directly and I will be happy to work with you. 1 Part 1: The Writing Process th (Source: The Business Writer’s Handbook (7 edition) by Gerald Alred, Charles Brusaw, and Walter Oliu. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. 2003.) Preparation Revision Establish your purpose Check for completeness and accuracy Identify your audience Check for unity and coherence Select the medium (letter, memo, email, phone) Concision  Eliminate redundancy (if removing a word does not change the meaning of the sentence, then leave it out) Research  Eliminate modifiers (very, extremely, Brainstorm definitely). Replace with concrete wording. Research (Internet & library, interviews)  Simplify wording to avoid overuse of cliché Take notes phrases and jargon Avoid plagiarism  No expletive constructions (This is… It is…. There are….)  Watch for nominalizations (use ―consider‖ not Organization ―take under consideration‖) Outline Check for sentence variety, pace, and transitions Determine visuals  Emphasis (audience memory curve) Decide on layout and design  Parallel structure  Subordinate minor ideas Check for clarity DRAFT  Ambiguity  Logic errors Choose style and tone  Write positively Effective sentence construction Check for ethics in writing  Conscious use of passive voice  Biased language  Try to have an active subject for all  Copyright sentences; think subject-verb-object.  Plagiarism Effective paragraph construction Check for appropriate word choice  Issue-details-resolution  Concrete words  What’s your point?  Straightforward words (minimize jargon and  Not just numbers, but an argument tying cliché phrases) them together  Define unclear terms  A bullet list is not a paragraph Check for grammar problems (use ―edit‖  ―find‖ Choose a descriptive title for your particular problem area) Introduction – Body – Conclusion  Agreement  Case  Modifiers  Pronoun references  Run-on sentences (comma splices) Review mechanics and punctuation  Abbreviations & capitalizations  Contractions & voice (can you use ―I‖?)  Numbers & symbols  spelling 2 “Be Your Own Editor” Checklist The questions below reflect easy-to-overlook aspects of editing. Content Purpose: Stated clearly? Specific requests for action or information? Information: Accurate and complete? Right amount of detail? Sequence Bottom Line: At the top? Strategically placed? Organization: Ideas flow logically? Design Format: Enough headlines, sidelines, and lists? Deadlines and action items highlighted? White space to frame ideas? Presentation: Would a chart, table, or graph be more effective for certain information? Structure Paragraphs: Begin with a topic sentence? Transitions within and between? Focused on one topic? Limited to 5 to 6 lines? Sentences: Varied in structure and length? Streamlined to 15 to 20 words? Tone/Style Words: Simple, specific, and straightforward? Terminology familiar to readers? Free of affectation and stuffy outdated language? Headlines designed for impact? Acronyms explained? Style: Personable, upbeat, and direct? Active voice? Appropriate for the audience? Positive approach? Proofread Grammar, spelling, and punctuation accurate? Should someone else review this? Typographical errors corrected? If this mailing is a repeat, is new data highlighted? Other Enter your own editorial “trouble spots” to double-check and prevent. 3 Part 2: Principles of Good Business Writing Principle 1: Business Writing Should Be Reader-Friendly Three basics of reader-friendly writing: 1. active and energetic sentences 2. frontloaded purpose 3. sufficient information Active and Energetic Sentences – Minimize Passive Voice and Nominalizations Rx: Handling nominalizations 1. When the nominalization follows a verb with little specific meaning, change the nominalization to a verb that can replace the empty verb. Compare: The committee has no expectation that it will meet the deadline. The committee does not expect to meet the deadline. 2. When the nominalization follows there is or there are, change the nominalization to a verb and find a subject: Compare: There is a need for further study of this program. The marketing department must study this program further. 3. When the nominalization is the subject of an empty verb, change the nominalization to a verb and find a new subject: Compare: Our discussion concerned a new marketing policy We discussed a new marketing policy. 4. When you find consecutive nominalizations, turn the first one into a verb. Then either leave the second or turn it into a verb in a clause beginning with how or why: Compare: There was first a review of the transformation of the market for one-step immunoassays. First, the department reviewed the transformation of the market for one-step immunoassays. First, the department reviewed how the market for one-step immunoassays had changed dramatically. Yes, Virginia: There Are Such Things as Good Nominalizations 1. The nominalization names what would be the object of its verb: ◊ The team does not understand the implications of the most recent data. ◊ Better than ―The team does not understand what is implied by the most recent data.‖ 2. A succinct nominalization can replace an awkward ―The fact that‖: ◊ The fact that we managed to change the product’s brand identity in a matter of months impressed our client. ◊ Our transformation of the product’s brand identity in a matter of months impressed our client. 3. Some nominalizations refer to frequently repeated concepts, so that abstractions like ―representation,‖ ―election,‖ and ―advertisement‖ become virtual actors. Principle 2: Business Writing Should Be Coherent You can create cohesion between sentences packed with even the densest information when you place already introduced information at the beginning of sentences and new, unfamiliar material at the end. To connect a sentence to the preceding one, we typically use transitional phrases like and, but, therefore, as a result, etc. To help readers evaluate what follows, we also rely on expressions that flag how they should process the information: 4 ….perhaps, fortunately, allegedly, it is important to note, for the most part, under these circumstances, from a practical standpoint, etc. By beginning with the topic first, your writing will seem more focused, as your readers are better able to process information once they understand the context. Principle 3: Business Writing Should be Logically Organized 3.1 Making Points Readers will feel a paragraph is coherent if you include a ―point sentence‖ or a ―so what?‖ sentence. 3.2 Using Headings as Signposts – think “Headlines” for your paragraphs Headings can help writers as much as readers because writers can use them to diagnose potential problems in the structure of a document. Headings help readers by giving them a general preview of the content of each section. 3.3 Using Bullets and Vertical Lists Effectively Why Use Bullets and Vertical Lists? When used effectively, bullets improve your concision and specificity, and guide your reader through your logic (see example 1). However, don’t overuse them, or your writing will become disjointed and the bullets will lose their emphasis. What is the Difference between Bullets and Vertical Lists? If all your items are equally important, then use bullets to highlight your information. Use numbered lists when your items are organized in some kind of priority or chronological order (example 2). How do I Introduce Bullets and Lists? The colon can only be used after a complete sentence. Consequently, if your introductory statement before the list/bullets is a complete sentence, you may choose either a colon or a period to introduce the list. If the introductory statement is not a complete statement, however, use no punctuation (example 2). Example 1 Example 2 When writing a lengthy document, use lists You can gain access to Personal Banking for the following items: online by o Topic previews 1. clicking on the Personal Banking logo on our o Procedu ral steps website, o Summaries of key points 2. logging on with your social security number, o Recommendations and o Conclusions 3. entering your password and zip code. How do I Punctuate Bullets and Lists? Usually, place periods at the end of bullets that are complete sentences. However, it's just as correct (and perhaps not as confusing for some folks) not to punctuate at the end of each bullet (see example 1). As for whether or not to capitalize the first letter of each bullet, you should capitalize the first word except for when the listed items complete the thought begun in the introductory sentence (as in example 2 above). Watch out, though, as that ―helpful‖ Word software will make you capitalize, no matter what. What do you mean by “Keep bullets grammatically parallel”? You need to keep list and bulleted items consistent in form and specificity (see example3). Example 3a (WRONG!) Example 3b (CORRECT)
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