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Business Writing Today

Business Writing Today
A Practical Guide

Third Edition

May 2018 | 376 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Business Writing Today prepares students to succeed in the business world by giving them the tools they need to write powerfully, no matter the challenge. In her highly-practical text, author Natalie Canavor shares step-by-step guidance and tips for success to help students write more clearly and strategically. Readers will learn what to say and how to say it in any medium from tweets and emails to proposals and formal reports. Every technique comes with concrete examples and practice opportunities, helping students transfer their writing skills to the workplace.

“This is the real-deal writing guide for serious business majors.” 

–Astrid Sheil, California State University San Bernardino
1. Business Writing Today—And You
Why Workplace Writing Matters  
How Employers See Writing  
Defining Business Writing Today  
Now, Back to You  
How to Use this Book  
Practice Opportunities  
2. Write to Accomplish Goals
Why Planning Works  
Step 1: Identify Your Short- and Long-Range Goals  
Step 2: A Structure for Understanding Your Audience  
Bridging Generational Differences  
How Understanding Helps You Solve Problems  
Writing to Groups  
Practice Opportunities  
3. Putting the Planning Structure to Work
Defining Your Goals  
Applying the Audience Concept  
Brainstorming Your Content Points  
Leading with Strength  
Middle Well  
Finally, End Well  
Choosing Your Best Options for Organization  
The Goldilocks Principle: How Much is Just Right?  
Managing Your Tone  
Practicing the Planning Structure  
Practice Opportunities  
4. Write the First Draft
Choose the Familiar Words of Conversation  
Build Strong, Clear Sentences  
Build with Action Verbs  
Writing the Short Paragraph  
Using Transitions: Words, Phrases, and Devices  
Avoiding Tone Traps  
Practice Opportunities  
5. Edit Your Writing
10 Principles of Power Editing  
Practical Editing Stage 1: Content Review  
Practical Editing Stage 2: Review Language and Structure  
Common Sense Fix-It Techniques  
Remember: Many Ways Can Work  
Practice Opportunities  
Resources for Part II  
6. Use the Techniques of Persuasion
Line Your Toolkit with Essentials  
Adopt Persuasion’s Triple Play  
First Let There Be Trust  
Acknowledge Other Viewpoints  
Build Persuasion into Your Writing  
“Show Don’t Sell”  
Using Language Magic  
When the Story is Yours: Finding, Shaping, Telling  
Draw on the Transformation Story Model  
The Emotional Dimension  
The Graphic Dimension  
A Model Business Writer: Warren Buffett  
Practice Opportunities  
7. Building Relationship with Everyday Media
Using E-mail Strategically  
Apply the Structured Planning System  
How to Build in the Right Tone  
Don’t Bury the Lead!  
Communicating about Work Problems  
Some E-mail Q&A  
Practice Opportunities  
8. Writing More Formal Messages
When and How to Write Letters  
Crafting Letters to the Situation  
Using Messages to Network  
Writing Rejection Letters  
Writing to Fix Problems  
The International Dimension of Business Writing  
Practice Opportunities  
9. Creating Business Documents
Writing Tips for Business Documents  
Writing Reports to Win Support  
Project Reports: Tune in to the Big Picture  
Writing Personal Reports  
The Executive Summary: Techniques and Options  
Sample Executive Summary for a Report  
Writing Winning Proposals  
Creating Effective Nonprofit Grant Applications  
A Word on Business Plans  
Practice Opportunities  
10. Writing for the Interactive World
Strategizing Your Digital Presence  
Writing and Online Media  
How to Write Online  
Ten Ways to Use Online Media Effectively  
Website Writing: What’s Different  
Strategizing a Website  
Blogging: Know Why, Know How  
Joining Online Communities  
Choose to Brand Yourself  
Think Global: The Internet Lives Everywhere  
Practice Opportunities  
Resources for Advice on Social Media and the Internet  
11. Present Yourself: Write Well to Speak Well
The “Elevator Speech”; Why You Need It, How to Write It  
If You’re a New Career Builder  
Speeches and Presentations  
Using Your Personal Story  
Talking Points: Always be Prepared  
Writing Tips for Spoken Media  
How to Plan and Use Effective Video  
Introducing Yourself with Video  
Translating Verbal Ideas into Visuals  
Creating Visual Interest  
Practice Opportunities  
12. Win Your Opportunities: Writing for the Hunt
Planning Your Resume  
Writing Resumes that Outshine the Competition  
Cover Letters: Guidelines and Options  
Practice Opportunities  
Sentence Rewrite Practice (Nobody’s Perfect)  
Unfortunate Real-World Examples  
Persuasion and Ethics: A Conversation and Debate  
Handle Unfamiliar Media  
Create Cheat Sheets and Templates  
Practice Your Interviewing Skills  
Five “Favorite Assignments”  
Create Your Personal Writing RX  

“This is the real-deal writing guide for serious business majors.” 

Astrid Sheil
California State University, San Bernardino

“An easy-to-read, informative guide with practical, real-world examples supported by evidence. It reads like the author is your personal tutor elevating you on the path to success.” 

Alyssa Wertz
Merrimack College

“An excellent introductory text with advice useful to the most seasoned professional; it covers virtually all the bases of professional writing in today’s workplaces. It is much more than simply what its title implies—a business writing handbook.” 

M. Elizabeth Weiser
Ohio State University

“A comprehensive book that is a comfortable read.” 

Mary Lynn Engel
Saint Joseph’s College

“The book provides a solid foundation for technical writers who are just entering the field. At every level it shows audience-centered communication as paramount to success in the business world.”

Geoffrey Luurs
North Carolina State University
Key features


  • Updated with new examples, success tips, resources, and expanded material on subjects that relate to students’ most pressing interests and reflect current directions of professional communication. 
  • New and expanded coverage of important topics like networking, storytelling, creating a positive online presence, and visually-based media.
  • New and updated good (and not-so-good) writing samples throughout the book show readers where and what to revise. 
  • A reorganized and streamlined table of contents is now organized into four major parts, moving from basics into more advanced topics. 
  • Nine new “Views from the Field” include advice on networking, building rapport, and creating personal introduction videos.
  • New chapter on Editing includes practical strategies for improving drafts and fixing common writing issues. 
  • A greater emphasis on strategic thinking and problem-solving helps students develop their insight into the perspectives of others so they are better able to represent their own interests and contribute more on the job.
  • This edition more closely connects writing skills with oral communication, relationship-building, a strategic online presence, and students’ hopes to become valued employees, leaders, and entrepreneurs.
  • A new appendix includes new writing activities, new assignments, and cheat sheets for students, making this the most applied edition yet. 


  • Provides a structured, step-by-step process to plan, write, and edit successful messages, business documents, reports, emails, digital media, and self-marketing materials.   
  • Presents a strategic approach to business writing, based on analyzing goals and understanding audience. 
  • Improves writing skills by demonstrating what works, and how to identify and fix problems without grammar lessons.
  • Demonstrates how to adapt good writing principles to online content, social media, video, blogs, PowerPoint, and other platforms.
  • Practical exercises help readers apply the book’s ideas and techniques immediately through writing assignments, discussion, group projects and activities.
  • Chapter on Writing Resumes and Covers Letters provides students with strategies for standing out in today's highly competitive workplace.

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ISBN: 9781506388328