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Professional/Technical Writing: The Basics

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1 Professional/Technical Writing: The Basics
Duane Theobald

2 “Professional” Writing? “Technical” Writing?
What do you know about professional/technical writing? What do these words mean to you? What makes “professional/technical” writing different from any other writing I do for a class? What are some different forms of professional/technical writing? Have you ever dealt with them? 3 Main Topics to cover today: s Letters Résumés

3 Before We Dive In…

4 1. E-Mails: What Not To Do…
Take a look at the following . Notice anything problematic/wrong with it? From: Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2010, 11:42 a.m. To: Subject: hey hey Mrs. Smith this is John doe, sorry i missed class today i had a little too much fun last nite had a rough time waking up;) can you tell me what i missed and me your teaching notes ASAP? thx.

5 1. s Effective s are a valuable educational tool; they allow you to ask questions and receive instant feedback, whether you are ing a professor or speaking to a co-worker about an upcoming project. Unfortunately, many people need to make sure that their communications are professional and appropriate.

6 1. E-Mails Aspects of e-mail etiquette to consider include: Formality
Always make sure that your opens with a salutation (“Dear Professor...”/To Whom It May Concern) and close with a proper signature (“Sincerely…”/ “Thanks in advance”) Write a clear subject line that is relevant to its content (otherwise, someone might reject your message as spam). Remember to consider ALL rules of grammar, spelling, capitalization that you have previously learned!! Tone It is important to analyze your audience—there are some things you can say to your friend that you would NEVER say to your professor/employer. Before you hit “Send,” review your draft with an eye for context-appropriate content/language. Do not make demands over an and do not be hasty when sending nasty protests.

7 1. s: What to Do… From: Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2010, 11:42 a.m. To: Subject: Today’s Class (ENGL 1101) Good Morning Professor Smith, This is John Doe. I am in your ENGL 1101 class. I am sorry I missed class today. I was not feeling very well this morning. I looked at the syllabus and saw that we were given important notes in today’s class. Would it be possible to get these from you via ? Thank you for assistance. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, John Doe

8 2. Letters Prior to beginning any letter (for our purposes, business letters), make sure to do the following: Reread the description of your task (i.e. advertisement for a job opening, assignment for a class, etc.) Think about your purpose and what requirements are mentioned or implied in the description Identify qualifications, attributes, objectives, or answers that match the requirements you listed Strive to be exact and avoid vagueness, ambiguity, and platitudes

9 2. Letters Cover Letter (Application Letter)
Is there a difference? No, just in terminology A cover letter allows you to market your skills, abilities, and knowledge to a potential employer. What should I consider when writing this kind of letter? Make sure that… It catches the reader’s attention favorably. It explains which particular job interests you and why. It convinces the reader that you are qualified for the job by drawing their attention to particular elements in your résumé. It request an interview.

10 2. Letters Example of a Cover Letter (OWL at Purdue):

11 3. Résumé A résumé is a general and concise introduction of your experiences and skills as they relate to a particular position or career. Résumés are often altered for each position that you are applying for so as to emphasize those skills and experiences most relevant to the work.

12 3. Résumé A typical résumé includes the following:
Name and Contact Information: your residential address (especially important if you do not want your current employer to know you are looking for a job elsewhere) Education: a listing of your degrees/certifications and educational institutions/programs Work Experience: names of the companies or organizations that you have worked for, the location of each company, the dates worked, your job title, and duties performed

13 3. Résumé Some specifics to consider:
Use common sense when formatting: there are no universal guidelines for formatting a résumé; if you are concerned about your résumé being to busy or misaligned, click on “Print Preview” and evaluate the consistency of your space Fonts and font sizes: it is typically a good idea to stick with fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial; using other fonts can distract the reader from the content and cause them to focus on the “prettiness” of the document—keep the reader focused on your accomplishments! Seek and evaluate examples: many professors and professionals post their résumés online via web pages and employee profile pages on corporate websites; take the time to look at them and see what they did and what you might want to mimic

14 3. Résumé Example of a Résumé (OWL at Purdue):

15 To Recap… When writing an e-mail…
Consider your audience and make sure your tone (how you express yourself) is appropriate When writing a letter, specifically a cover/application letter… Catch the reader’s attention Explain which particular job interest you and why Convince the reader that you are qualified for the job by drawing their attention to particular elements in your résumé Request an interview When writing a résumé… Include name, contact information, education, and work experience Keep formatting consistent Above all, make sure to seek out examples if you are in doubt or need guidance!

16 Need help?? Utilize your resources!!
Check out the following books that might be useful: Technical Communication (10th ed.)-Mike Markel The Essentials of Technical Communication (2nd ed.)-Elizabeth Tebeaux and Sam Dragga The Business Writer’s Handbook (10th ed.)-Gerald B. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu The Technical Writer’s Companion (3rd ed.)-Gerald B. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu OWL at Purdue ( Visit tutoring centers on campus (EXCEL Center & the UWC!)

17 Questions? 678-839-6513
TLC 1201 (First floor, past the snacks) Like us on Facebook: University Writing Center (UWG) Duane Theobald (Manager of the UWC)

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