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Improving Writing Techniques

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From: Essentials of Business Communication Fourth Canadian Edition: Mary Guffey and Brendan Nagle

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Improving Writing Techniques

  1. 1. Chapter 3 <ul><li>Improving </li></ul><ul><li>Writing Techniques </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  2. 2. Formal Research Methods for Gathering Information <ul><li>Search manually (books, magazines, journals). </li></ul><ul><li>Access electronically (Internet, databases, compact discs). </li></ul><ul><li>Go to the source (interviews, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups). </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct scientific experiments (measure variables using control groups). </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  3. 3. Informal Research Methods for Gathering Information <ul><li>Look in organization files. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk with your boss. </li></ul><ul><li>Interview the target audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct an informal survey. </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorm for ideas. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  4. 4. Organize Information with an Outline <ul><li>Title </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I. First major component </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A. First subpoint </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Detail, illustration, evidence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Detail, illustration, evidence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>B. Second subpoint </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. Detail, illustration, evidence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. Detail, illustration, evidence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  5. 5. Organize Information with an Outline <ul><li>Tips: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Define main topic in title </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Divide the topic into three to five main points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Break the components into sub points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strive to make each component exclusive (no overlapping) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t put a single item under a major component </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use details, illustrations, and evidence to support sub points. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  6. 6. Organizing Business Messages <ul><li>Direct Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Main idea comes first followed by details and explanations </li></ul><ul><li>Indirect Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Explanation precedes main idea </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  7. 7. Organizing Business Messages <ul><li>Direct Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Advantages: </li></ul><ul><li>Saves reader’s time </li></ul><ul><li>Sets a proper frame of mind </li></ul><ul><li>Prevents frustration </li></ul><ul><li>Appears businesslike </li></ul><ul><li>Indirect Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Advantages: </li></ul><ul><li>Respects feelings of audience </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages a fair hearing </li></ul><ul><li>Minimizes a negative reaction </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  8. 8. Organizing Business Messages <ul><li>Direct Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Useful when: </li></ul><ul><li>Receiver is receptive </li></ul><ul><li>Receiver requires no education about topic </li></ul><ul><li>Message is routine </li></ul><ul><li>Indirect Strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Useful when: </li></ul><ul><li>Receiver may be upset </li></ul><ul><li>Receiver may be hostile </li></ul><ul><li>Receiver must be persuaded or educated </li></ul><ul><li>Message is sensitive </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  9. 9. Effective Sentences <ul><li>Complete sentences have subjects and verbs and make sense (are capable of standing alone). </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject Verb </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Employees send many e-mail messages. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  10. 10. Effective Sentences <ul><li>Clauses also have subjects and verbs. Independent clauses can stand alone. D ependent clauses rely on independent clauses for their meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dependent Clause Independent Clause </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When you speak , you reveal yourself. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  11. 11. Effective Sentences <ul><li>Phrases are groups of related words without subjects and verbs. </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Phrase Phrase </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the afternoon , I work at the mall . </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  12. 12. Effective Sentences <ul><li>Avoid sentence fragments. </li></ul><ul><li>Fragment </li></ul><ul><li>Even though the pay was low . Many candidates applied. </li></ul><ul><li>Revision: </li></ul><ul><li>Even though the pay was low, many candidates applied. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  13. 13. Effective Sentences <ul><li>Avoid run-on (fused) sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>Fused Sentences </li></ul><ul><li>Two candidates applied only one was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Revisions: </li></ul><ul><li>Two candidates applied. Only one was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Two candidates applied; only one was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Two candidates applied, but only one was hired. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  14. 14. Effective Sentences <ul><li>Avoid comma-splice sentences. </li></ul><ul><li>Comma Splice </li></ul><ul><li>Many were qualified , Jeff was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Revisions: </li></ul><ul><li>Many were qualified. Jeff was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Many were qualified; Jeff was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Many were qualified; however, Jeff was hired. </li></ul><ul><li>Many were qualified, but Jeff was hired. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  15. 15. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Revise the following to avoid fragments, run-on sentences, and comma-splices. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can create a Web-based job portfolio it will impress potential employers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> You can create a Web-based job portfolio; it will impress potential employers. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  16. 16. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Revise the following to avoid fragments, run-on sentences, and comma-splices. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Send a scannable résumé. When you apply for a job. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Send a scannable résumé when you apply for a job. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  17. 17. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Revise the following to avoid fragments, run-on sentences, and comma-splices. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Although technical skills are important. Communication skills are also in great demand. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Although technical skills are important, communication skills are also in great demand. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  18. 18. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Revise the following to avoid fragments, run-on sentences, and comma-splices. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>College used to be for young people, however many older students now seek degrees. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> College used to be for young people; however, many older students now seek degrees. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  19. 19. Emphasis Through Mechanics <ul><ul><li>Underlining: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which of these methods do you prefer? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Italics and Boldface: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The use of boldface and italics captures the reader’s attention. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All Caps: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notice how EXPENSE-FREE stands out. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dashes: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other methods–including dashes–may be used. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  20. 20. Emphasis Through Mechanics <ul><li>Tabulation: </li></ul><ul><li>Listing items vertically emphasizes them: </li></ul><ul><li>1. First item </li></ul><ul><li>2. Second item </li></ul><ul><li>3. Third item </li></ul><ul><li>Mechanics also include the use of white space, colour, lines, boxes, columns, titles, headings, and subheadings. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  21. 21. Emphasis and Deemphasis Through Style <ul><li>To emphasize an idea: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a vivid expression, such as in “ bug-free software ” rather than “ dependable software .” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Label the idea with expressions such as more importantly , the principal reason , or the best alternative . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put the important idea first or last in the sentence. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put the important idea in a simple sentence or in an independent clause. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  22. 22. Emphasis and Deemphasis Through Style <ul><li>To deemphasize an idea: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use general, rather than specific, words ( some customers complained , rather than 125 customers complained ). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place the idea in a dependent clause connected to an independent clause containing a positive idea. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Although items cannot be returned for cash, you will receive store credit for any returned purchase. </li></ul></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  23. 23. Active- and Passive-Voice Verbs <ul><li>Active-voice verbs show the subject performing the action. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most major employers require drug testing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Active voice; the subject is acting) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Smith recommended Tina for the job. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Active voice; the subject is acting) </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  24. 24. Active- and Passive-Voice Verbs <ul><li>In passive-voice sentences, the subject is being acted upon. Passive-voice verbs require helper verbs. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drug testing is required by most major employers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Passive voice; the subject is being acted upon) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tina was recommended for the job by Dr. Smith. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> (Passive voice; the subject is being acted upon) </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  25. 25. Active- and Passive-Voice Verbs <ul><li>Use the active voice for most business writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the passive voice to emphasize an action or the recipient of the action–rather than the actor Specialists were hired; Laura was honored . </li></ul><ul><li>Use the passive voice to break bad news </li></ul><ul><li>Although your lease cannot be renewed, we can offer competitive financing . </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  26. 26. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Convert the following sentence to active voice. You may have to add a subject. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our membership meeting was postponed by the president. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> The president postponed our membership meeting. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  27. 27. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Convert the following sentence to active voice. You may have to add a subject. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The résumés of job candidates are sorted quickly by the software program Resumix. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> The software program Resumix sorts résumés of job candidates quickly. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  28. 28. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Convert the following sentence to active voice. You may have to add a subject. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer paper was ordered yesterday. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Rachel ordered computer paper yesterday. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  29. 29. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Convert the following sentence to passive voice. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We must delay shipment of your merchandise because of heavy demand. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Your merchandise shipment must be delayed because of heavy demand. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  30. 30. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Convert the following sentence to passive voice. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The technician could not install the computer program. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> The computer program could not be installed. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  31. 31. Developing Parallelism <ul><li>Parallel expression uses balanced construction. Match nouns with nouns, verbs with verbs, phrases with phrases, and clauses with clauses. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  32. 32. Developing Parallelism <ul><li>Poor: The process of writing involves organizing, composing, and revision. </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel: The process of writing involves organizing, composing, and revising. (Matches -ing verbs) </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  33. 33. Developing Parallelism <ul><li>Poor: We are very concerned with the quality of raw materials, where they are located, and how much it costs to transport them. </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel: We are very concerned with the quality, location, and transpor- tation costs of raw materials. (Matches nouns) </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  34. 34. Developing Parallelism <ul><li>Poor: Serena takes the telephone orders, Matt locates the items in the warehouse, and the items are sent by Yolanda. </li></ul><ul><li>Parallel: Serena takes the telephone orders, Matt locates the items in the warehouse, and Yolanda sends the items. (Matches active- voice verbs) </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  35. 35. Try Your Skill <ul><li>How could parallelism be improved in the following sentence? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our knowledge management system focuses on the collecting, storage, and sharing of best practices. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Our knowledge management system focuses on the collecting, storing, and sharing of best practices. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  36. 36. Try Your Skill <ul><li>How could parallelism be improved in the following sentence? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We are pleased to recommend Elizabeth because she has sincerity, she is reliable, and she works with diligence. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> We are pleased to recommend Elizabeth because she is sincere, reliable, and diligent. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  37. 37. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers <ul><li>For clarity, modifiers must be close to the words they describe or limit. Be particularly careful to place a logical subject immediately after an introductory verbal phrase. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  38. 38. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers <ul><li>Poor: After considering the problem carefully, new procedures were suggested by management. </li></ul><ul><li>Revised: After considering the problem carefully, management suggested new procedures. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  39. 39. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers <ul><li>Poor: Any student has full on-line privileges who is enrolled in the college. </li></ul><ul><li>Revised: Any student who is enrolled in the college has full on-line privileges. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  40. 40. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers <ul><li>Poor: It’s hard to understand why employees would not go to our technical support staff with software problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Revised: It’s hard to understand why employees with software problems would not go to our technical support staff. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  41. 41. Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers <ul><li>Poor: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using a search engine, the Web site was finally located. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Revised: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using a search engine, we finally located the Web site. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Revise the following sentence to correct any misplaced modifiers. Retain the introductory phrase. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To be hired, two years of experience is required . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> To be hired, one must have two years of experience </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  42. 42. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Revise the following sentence to correct any misplaced modifiers. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>She died in the house in which she was born at the age of 88. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> At the age of 88, she died in the house in which she was born. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dipped in butter, you can really enjoy a fine lobster . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Dipped in butter, a fine lobster can truly be enjoyed. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  43. 43. Try Your Skill <ul><li>Revise the following sentence to correct any misplaced modifiers. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To receive an employment form, fill out this application . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The sentence is correct as it stands. “You” is the understood subject of a command. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  44. 44. Three Ways to Achieve Paragraph Coherence <ul><li>Develop coherence by using one of these devices: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Repeat a key idea or key word(s). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Next month we plan to launch a promotion for our new Web site. The promotion will involve newspaper and TV campaigns. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Use a pronoun. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Considerable interest is now being shown in our extended GIC’s. They are more profitable when left on deposit for long periods of time. </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3-
  45. 45. Three Ways to Achieve Paragraph Coherence <ul><ul><li>Contrast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>although </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>however </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>instead </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>nevertheless </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>on the other hand </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3- <ul><ul><li>Use an appropriate transitional expression. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time Association </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>before, after </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>first, second </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>meanwhile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>next </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>until </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>when, whenever </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cause, Effect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consequently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for this reason </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>hence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>therefore </li></ul></ul>
  46. 46. Three Ways to Achieve Paragraph Coherence <ul><ul><li>Additional Ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>furthermore </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in addition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>likewise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>moreover </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>similarly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Illustration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for example </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in this way </li></ul></ul>Ch. 3- 3. Use an appropriate transitional expression.
  47. 47. Paragraph Length <ul><li>Paragraphs with eight or fewer printed lines look inviting and readable. </li></ul><ul><li>This aging of the population is not a transient demographic phenomenon that will quickly fade away when the “baby boom” generation is gone. The persistently low fertility rate will maintain a high ratio between the number of seniors and the rest of the population for the foreseeable future. The fact that people are living longer will only accentuate the aging of society, and even very high immigration rates will not have a very great impact in the medium and long term. </li></ul>Ch. 3-
  48. 48. Composing the First Draft <ul><li>Complete all necessary research. </li></ul><ul><li>Find a quiet place to concentrate and work. </li></ul><ul><li>Prohibit calls, visitors, and interruptions. </li></ul><ul><li>Organize information using an outline. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide whether to sprint write (get your thoughts down quickly and revise later) or revise as you go. </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine you are talking to a reader or listener. </li></ul>Ch. 3-

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