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Business Writing Today
A Practical Guide

Third Edition


May 2018 | 368 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
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
PART I. HOW TO COMMUNICATE IN WRITING
 
Chapter 1. Business Writing Today—And You
Why Workplace Writing Matters  
How Employers See Writing  
Defining Business Writing for Today  
Now, Back to You  
The Impact of the Digital Age  
How to Use This Book  
Practice Opportunities  
 
Chapter 2. Write to Accomplish Goals
How and Why to Plan Your Messages  
Step 1: Identify Your Short- and Long-Range Goals  
Step 2: Analyze Your Audience Systematically  
Bridging Generational Differences  
How Understanding Other People Helps You  
Writing to Groups  
Practice Opportunities  
 
Chapter 3. Put the Planning Structure to Work
Decide What Response You Want  
Apply Your Audience Analysis  
Brainstorm Your Content Points  
Lead With Strength  
Middle Well  
Finally, End Well  
Choose How to Organize  
The Goldilocks Principle: How Much Is Just Right?  
Manage Your Tone  
Practice the Planning Structure  
Practice Opportunities  
 
PART II. SHARPEN AND IMPROVE YOUR WRITING
 
Chapter 4. Create the First Draft
Choose the Familiar Words of Conversation  
Build Clear, Concise Sentences  
Build With Action Verbs  
Work With Short Paragraphs  
Use Good Transitions: Words, Phrases and Devices  
Sidestep Tone Traps  
Practice Opportunities  
 
Chapter 5. Edit Your Writing
Ten Principles of Power Editing  
Practical Editing Stage 1: Content Review  
Practical Editing Stage 2: Review Language and Structure  
Commonsense Fix-It Techniques  
Sidestep Business-Speak  
Fixing Some Grammar Glitches  
The Fixer Takeaway  
Editing Down Long Copy  
How Correct Must Business Writing Be?  
Finally: Proofread  
Remember: Many Ways Can Work  
Practice Opportunities  
Resources for Part II  
 
Chapter 6. Use the Techniques of Persuasion
Line Your Toolkit With Essentials  
Adopt Persuasion’s Triple Play: Ethos, Logos, Pathos  
Write to Build Trust  
Acknowledge Other Viewpoints  
Build Persuasion Into All Your Writing  
Show Don’t Sell!  
Use Language Magic  
When the Story Is Yours: Finding, Shaping, Telling  
Draw on the Transformation Story Model  
Tips for Writing the Story  
Explore the Emotional Dimension  
Remember the Graphic Dimension  
Learn From a Model Business Writer: Warren Buffett  
Practice Opportunities  
Selected Resources for Chapter 6  
 
PART III. THE BASICS OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
 
Chapter 7. Building Relationships With Everyday Messages
Use E-mail Strategically  
Apply the Planning Structure  
Build in the Right Tone  
Don't Bury the Lead!  
Communicating About Work Problems  
Some E-mail Q&A  
Practice Opportunities  
 
Chapter 8. Writing More Formal Messages
When to Write Letters—And How  
Craft Letters for Specific Situations  
Use Messages to Network  
Writing to Fix Business Problems  
The International Dimension of Business Writing  
Practice Opportunities  
 
Chapter 9. Creating Strong Business Documents
Writing Tips for Business Documents  
Create Reports That Win Support  
Develop Big-Picture Project Reports  
Write Solid Personal Reports  
The Executive Summary: Techniques and Options  
Sample Executive Summary for a Report  
Writing Proposals That Win  
Succeeding With Grant Applications  
A Word on Business Plans  
Practice Opportunities  
 
PART IV. WRITING FOR ONLINE AND SPOKEN MEDIA
 
Chapter 10. Craft Your Writing for the Interactive World
Strategizing Your Digital Presence  
Adapting to Interactive Media  
Ten Tips for Using Online Media  
Website Writing: What’s Different  
How to Strategize a Website  
Blogging: Know Why, Know How  
Joining Online Communities  
Choose to Brand Yourself  
Think Global: The Internet Lives Everywhere  
Practice Opportunities  
Selected Resources for Social Media and the Internet  
 
Chapter 11. Present Yourself: Write Well to Speak Well
The Elevator Speech: Why and How to Write It  
Developing Speeches and Presentations  
Prepare Talking Points for In-Person Occasions  
Writing Tips for Spoken Media  
Creating Better PowerPoints  
Planning and Using Video  
Translating Verbal Into Visual  
Practice Opportunities  
Selected Resources  
 
PART V. INTO THE FUTURE
 
Chapter 12. Win Your Opportunities: Writing for the Hunt
Plan a Résumé Based on Strengths  
Write to Outshine the Competition  
Develop Strong Cover Letters  
Practice Opportunities  
 
Appendix: Activities, Practice, Planning
Sentence Rewrite Practice (Nobody’s Perfect)  
Unfortunate Real-World Examples to Diagnose  
Writing and Ethics: Conversation and Debate  
Handle Unfamiliar Media: A Newsletter Project  
Make Your Own Cheat Sheets  
Develop Your Interviewing Skills  
Five Favorite Assignments  
Create Your Personal Writing Rx  
 
Index

“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

“Business Writing Today is an excellent practical resource for anyone hoping to succeed business writing 2.0.” 

Michelle Davidson
University of Toledo

“It’s full of practical advice that places emphasis on audience, purpose, and identity. An affordable text that doesn’t get caught up in the details of spacing and appearance, but instead focuses on what makes good writing good.” 

Steven Engel
Marygrove College

“The book is concisely written, well-organized, and has plenty of up-to-date examples.” 

Rod Carveth
Morgan State University

“This is a good introduction to business communication that allows students to easily understand concepts. The writing is conversational. Examples for what not to do are followed up with how to revise those examples. This text does not merely tell you how to write. It shows you how you might write the draft or how you write now, and then provides you with a good example of how to revise or write differently next time.” 

Renee Nelms King
Eastern Illinois University
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION: 

  • 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. 

KEY FEATURES:

  • 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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