The College Writer: A Guide to Thinking, Writing, and Researching, Brief, 5th Edition

  • Randall VanderMey Westmont College
  • Verne Meyer Write Source, UpWrite Press, and Thoughtful Learning
  • John Van Rys Redeemer University College
  • Patrick Sebranek Write Source, UpWrite Press, and Thoughtful Learning
  • ISBN-10: 1285437969  |  ISBN-13: 9781285437965
  • 608 Pages
  • Previous Editions: 2012, 2009, 2009
  • © 2015 | Published
  • List Price = $ 158.95
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  • Newer Edition Available



Combining streamlined instruction in the writing process with outstanding accessibility, THE COLLEGE WRITER, BRIEF, is a fully updated three-in-one book-with a rhetoric, a reader, and a research guide-for users at any skill level. Throughout the book, numerous student and professional writing samples highlight important features of academic writing-from voice to documentation-and offer models for users' own papers. The fifth edition features a greater focus on writing across the curriculum, further supported within the research chapters by additional coverage of report writing, primary research, and avoiding plagiarism.

Features and Benefits

  • THE COLLEGE WRITER, Brief, provides students with a concise yet complete overview of the writing process. The text's unique “at-a-glance” visual format presents each major concept in a one- or two-page spread, with a description of the concept followed by an example, and then the opportunity for hands-on practice, with writing assignments or practices exercises.
  • Consistent attention to the rhetorical situation-writer, reader, message, medium, and context-gives students a tool to analyze the works of others and create their own works. Chapter 1, for instance, begins with an illustration of the rhetorical situation and extended tips for reading actively.
  • “Learning Objectives” at the beginning of each chapter help students stay focused on key learning points; “Learning-Objective Checklists” at the end of the chapter allow students to track their performance.
  • The emphasis on thesis and outline creation encourages students to organize their thinking as they write.
  • High-interest academic writings from students and professionals help writers understand and create a scholarly tone. Throughout the text, the authors offer examples of writing for different disciplines as well as in different work contexts.
  • “Writing with Sources” boxes, integrated into the writing-process chapters, show students how research might fit into their composing processes.
  • In addition to activities for individual thinking and writing, each chapter includes group projects or activities that facilitate collaborative learning.
  • The Handbook covers key points of grammar, mechanics, and punctuation. These topics are reinforced by exercises both in the text and available online via Aplia and MindTap.
  • MLA and APA documentation aids students in finding reliable sources and creating strong research papers.
  • Charts, graphs, and photos help visual learners grasp concepts.
  • Cut-out tabs make it easy to flip to any of the four sections of the book.
  • The entire text is available as a multimedia eBook, featuring audio, video, exercises, models, and web links. A chapter on “Writing for the Web” is also available online.

Table of Contents

Reading, Thinking, Viewing, and Writing.
1. Critical Thinking Through Reading, Viewing, and Writing.
2. Beginning the Writing Process.
3. Planning.
4. Drafting.
5. Revising.
6. Editing and Proofreading.
7. Submitting Writing and Creating Portfolios.
The College Essay.
8. One Writer''s Process.
9. Forms of College Writing.
Three Curricular Divisions. Writing in the Humanities. Writing in the Social Sciences. Writing in the Natural Sciences. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
10. Narration, Description, and Reflection.
Strategies for Personal Essays. Brief Narratives: Anecdotes. Sample Personal Essays. “The Entymology of Village Life,” by Robert Minto. “Spare Change,” by Teresa Zsuffa. “When Dreams Take Flight,” by Elizabeth Fuller. “Call Me Crazy, But I Have to Be Myself,” by Mary Seymour. “The Muscle Mystique,” by Barbara Kingsolver. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
11. Cause and Effect.
Strategies for Cause-Effect Essays. Sample Cause-Effect Essays. “The Slender Trap,” by Tina Rhys. “Dutch Discord,” by Brittany Korver. “If You Let Me Play,” by Mary Brophy Marcus. “Mind Over Mass Media,” by Steven Pinker. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
12. Comparison and Contrast.
Strategies for Comparison-Contrast Essays. Sample Comparison-Contrast Essays. “Sethe in Beloved and Orleanna in Poisonwood Bible,” by Rachel DeSmith. “Shrouded in Contradiction,” by Gelareh Asayesh. “Shades of Prejudice,” by Shankar Vedantam. “The Likeness Across the Atlantic,” by Peter Baldwin. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
13. Classification.
Strategies for Classification Essays. Sample Classification Essays. “Latin American Music,” by Kathleen Kropp. “Four Sides to Every Story,” by Stewart Brand. “The Lion, the Witch, and the Metaphor,” by Jessica Siegel. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
14. Process.
Strategies for Process Essays. Sample Process Essays. “Wayward Cells,” by Kerri Mertz. “The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln,” by Eric Foner. “Saint Caesar of Delano,” by Richard Rodriguez. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
15. Definition.
Strategies for Definition Essays. Sample Definition Essays. “Economic Disparities Fuel Human Trafficking,” by Shon Bogar. “Deft or Daft,” by David Schelhaas. “On Excellence,” by Cynthia Ozick. “Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth,” by Simon L. Garfinkle. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
16. Reading Literature: A Case Study in Analysis.
Strategies for Analyzing Literature and the Arts. Approaches to Literary Analysis. “Four Ways to Talk about Literature,” by John Van Rys. Analyzing a Poem. “The Time Around Scars,” by Michael Ondaatje. “The Stories Scars Hold: An Explication of Michael Ondaatje''s ''The Time Around Scars,''“ by Michael Doyle (Student). Analyzing a Short Story. “Good Country People,” by Flannery O''Connor. “''Good Country People'': Broken Body, Broken Soul,” by Anya Terekhina (Student). Analysis of a Novel. “Ah, the Power of Women: Louis Erdrich''s ''Love Medicine''“ by Aleah Stenberg. Literary Terms. Poetry Terms. Writing Guidelines. Critical-Thinking and Writing Activities. Learning-Objectives Checklist.
17. Strategies for Argumentation and Persuasion.
18. Taking a Position.
19. Persuading Readers to Act.
20. Proposing a Solution.
21. Taking Essay Tests.
Reviewing for Tests. Forming a Study Group. Consider the Testing Situation. Taking the Essay Test. Writing Under Pressure: The Essay Test Quick Guide. Taking an Objective Test. Tips for Coping with Test Anxiety.
22. Writing for the Workplace.
Writing the Business Letter. Writing Memos and E-mail. Applying for a Job.
23. Preparing Oral Presentations.
Organizing Your Presentation. Writing Your Presentation. “Save Now or Pay Later,” by Burnette Sawyer. Developing Computer Presentations. Overcoming Stage Fright Checklist.
24. Getting Started: From Planning Research to Evaluating Sources.
25. Conducting Research: Primary, Library, Web.
26. Building Credibility: Avoiding Plagiarism.
27. Drafting Papers with Documented Research.
28. MLA Style.
29. APA Style.

What's New

  • NEW Chapter 26, “Building Credibility: Avoiding Plagiarism,” helps students understand what constitutes plagiarism, why it is a serious ethical and academic problem, and how to avoid plagiarism and other source abuses.
  • A new Chapter 16, “Analyzing Literature: A Case Study,” looks at writing about literature in the context of the analytical writing principles developed throughout the analytical writing chapters (Chapters 11-15). Four key approaches to literary analysis are covered, as are literary terms. Sample writings include an analysis of a poem, a short story, and a novel.
  • Consolidated coverage of the rhetorical modes is presented in each Part II chapter, including additional coverage of key principles to keep in mind when dealing with the particular mode.
  • New material on key rhetorical issues for writing within each discipline in Chapter 9, “Forms of College Writing,” guides students in exploring the conventions of the many different kinds of writing they are called upon to do throughout college.
  • New chapter-opening photographs and quick writing prompts engage students in critical thinking and analysis.
  • Six new essays on current topics are annotated to illustrate the writer's strategies in Part II. In addition, two new literary works, one poem and one short story, provide subjects for literary analysis.

Learning Resource Bundles

Choose the textbook packaged with the resources that best meet your course and student needs. Contact your Learning Consultant for more information.

Bundle: Text, Brief + Enhanced InSite 2-Semester Printed Access Card

ISBN-10: 1285935543  | ISBN-13: 9781285935546

List Price = $171.95

Bundle: Text, Brief + LMS Integrated for MindTap® English Printed Access Card

ISBN-10:  1305421140  | ISBN-13:  9781305421141

List Price = $171.95

Printed Text + LMS Integrated for MindTap® English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access

ISBN-10:  1305593979 | ISBN-13:  9781305593978

List Price = $171.95  | CengageBrain Price = $171.95

Efficacy and Outcomes


“I appreciated most the rhetorical approach your team has taken and the efforts you are making to deliver a 21st century writing resource that functions across the disciplines . . . Your team has clearly thought through what our writers need to be successful as communicators.”

— Hugh Burns, Texas Woman's University

“The Outcomes Checklist reinforces the concepts and makes the students accountable for learning.”

— Dianne Krob, Rose State College


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

Online Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 1285449754 | ISBN-13: 9781285449753)

Available for download on the instructor website, the Instructor's Manual is made up of assessment rubrics, learning objectives, an overview of the course, sample syllabi, chapter summaries, and teaching suggestions.

LMS Integrated Cengage Learning Write Experience 2.0 Powered by MyAccess, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access  (ISBN-10: 1285841875 | ISBN-13: 9781285841878)

List Price = $59.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $59.00

Student Supplements

Cengage Learning Write Experience 2.0 Powered by MyAccess with eBook, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access  (ISBN-10: 1285770773 | ISBN-13: 9781285770772)

Good writing leads to effective communication and critical thinking. Cengage Learning’s Write Experience is the first online solution in higher education that supports improvement in your written and critical thinking skills by providing real-time guidance, in your native language, as you write. After submitting your assignment, Write Experience evaluates your written assignment and provides immediate feedback on your writing while it is fresh in mind. Write Experience not only scores your writing instantly and accurately; it also provides detailed revision goals and detailed feedback on your writing to help you improve. Better Writing. Better Outcomes. Write Experience. Visit to learn more.

List Price = $59.00  | CengageBrain Price = $59.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $59.00

LMS Integrated Cengage Learning Write Experience 2.0 Powered by MyAccess, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access  (ISBN-10: 1285841875 | ISBN-13: 9781285841878)

List Price = $59.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $59.00

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Randall VanderMey

Randall VanderMey (Ph.D. University of Iowa, M.F.A. Iowa Writers' Workshop, M.A. University of Pennsylvania) is an associate professor in the Department of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He also has taught composition, literature, and technical writing at Iowa State University, Dordt College, and the University of Iowa. He is a contributing editor and creative consultant for Write Source. Dr. VanderMey has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards for his teaching and poetry. He has published two books of poems, GROWING SOUL: A SONG CYCLE, GOD TALK, and CHARM SCHOOL: FIVE WOMEN OF THE ODYSSEY, as well as a commissioned biography, MERIZON: THE GREAT JOURNEY.

Verne Meyer

Dr. Verne Meyer is an educator and a businessperson. For nine years, he taught English in high schools in Michigan and Wisconsin; and for fifteen years, he taught dramatic literature, theatre history, and composition at Dordt College in Iowa. In 1977, with Pat Sebranek, Meyer cofounded Write Source Educational Publishing House, now a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Supplemental. A graduate of Calvin College (B.A.), Marquette University (M.A.), and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D.), Dr. Meyer has coauthored a number of texts for college students, including THE COLLEGE WRITER, THE COLLEGE WRITER'S HANDBOOK, COMP, THE BUSINESS WRITER, and WRITE FOR WORK. For students in grades 8 through 12, he coauthored WRITERS INC, SCHOOL TO WORK, WRITE FOR COLLEGE, and a number of Write Source textbooks. For businesspeople, he coauthored WRITE FOR BUSINESS and EFFECTIVE EMAIL MADE EZ. Dr. Meyer is currently a contributing editor for Write Source and UpWrite Press. He is also a featured speaker in the School Improvement Network's instructional videos, Writing Across the Curriculum.

John Van Rys

John Van Rys (Ph.D. Dalhousie University, M.A./B.A. University of Western Ontario) has taught composition, business writing, creative writing, and literature courses to college students for more than twenty-five years. After spending fifteen years at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dr. Van Rys has been teaching as a full professor in the English Department at Redeemer University College in Hamilton, Ontario, since 2005, where he also pursues scholarly work in Canadian literature. For over twenty years, he has worked on writing-across-the-curriculum theory and practice, on connections between workplace and academic writing, and on strategies for strengthening varied literacies in students (from reading to research to visual literacy). With Write Source Educational Publishing and Cengage Learning, he has coauthored writing handbooks for students from middle school to college. Dr. Van Rys also has coauthored an award-winning business-writing handbook for workplace professionals, WRITE FOR BUSINESS, with UpWrite Press.

Patrick Sebranek

Patrick Sebranek (M.A. University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse) taught English, speech, and multimedia classes for sixteen years at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin. During that time, he served as the English department chair and worked on several district-wide projects, including a writing-across-the-curriculum program and a K-12 writing sequence. He has studied the works of James Moffett, Ken Macrorie, Linda Reif, Nancie Atwell, and many other contemporary educators dealing with writing and learning. Mr. Sebranek is an author and editorial director for the Write Source Educational Publishing House and works closely with teachers and educators on all new and revised handbooks and sourcebooks.