Higher Education

The Business Writer, 1st Edition

  • John Van Rys Redeemer University College
  • Verne Meyer Write Source, UpWrite Press, and Thoughtful Learning
  • Patrick Sebranek Write Source, UpWrite Press, and Thoughtful Learning
  • ISBN-10: 0618370870  |  ISBN-13: 9780618370870
  • 816 Pages
  • © 2006 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $143.25



The Business Writer functions both as a teaching tool and a lifelong reference to help students master the skills they need for effective workplace writing. The text's colorful, handbook-style design brings a fresh, new approach to teaching business writing by presenting material in one- or two-page spreads with bulleted lists, brief explanations, summary boxes, and graphic organizers that deliver information to readers quickly and clearly. Comprehensive and practical coverage--including a focus on the "Seven Traits of Effective Writing," detailed guidelines, models, and checklists--prepares students to complete a wide range of workplace writing tasks. In addition, a wealth of end-of-chapter exercises enables students to practice their writing skills, while helpful activities give students opportunities for effective oral communication.

Features and Benefits

  • The text's consistent emphasis on the "Seven Traits of Effective Writing" (strong ideas, logical organization, conversational voice, clear words, smooth sentences, correct copy, and reader-friendly design) provides a benchmark for students as they plan and revise their work. It also helps instructors save time as they grade assignments.
  • Annotated sample materials in each chapter show students the key features of typical workplace documents.
  • The authors provide the latest information on using technology to research, write, and design effective documents in both print and electronic formats.
  • Chapter 4, "Writing for Diversity," discusses how to write for individuals from different cultures or with limited English-language skills. Chapter 50, "Addressing ESL Issues," offers specialized guidance on sentence structure, word choice, grammar, and mechanics.
  • Exercises at the end of each chapter help students think critically about the material they have just learned and apply that knowledge to various writing assignments.

Table of Contents

Note: Chapters 1-44 conclude with a Checklist, Critical-Thinking Activities, and Writing Activities.
I. Challenges for Workplace Writers
Introduction: The Business of Writing
The Practice of Workplace Communication
The Transition from Academic to Workplace Writing
Workplace Writing: First Principles
The Business Writer''s Code of Ethics
1. Using the Writing Process
To Speak, Write, or Do Both
The Process of Writing: An Overview
One Writer at Work
Beating Writer''s Block
2. Writing and Technology
Guidelines for Learning New Software
Word-Processing Software
Special Applications
Digital Resources: Databases and the Web
3. Teamwork on Writing Projects
Using Teamwork to Strengthen Documents
Using Peer Review for an Early Draft
Using Peer Editing for a Later Draft
Working on a Group-Writing Project
Testing Documents with Readers
4. Writing for Diversity
Strategies for Intercultural Communication
Writing to an Intercultural Audience
Showing Respect for Diversity
Effective Attention to Diversity: A Model
5. Using Graphics in Business Documents
Guidelines for Designing Graphics
Parts of Graphics
Using the Computer to Develop Graphics
Integrating Graphics into Text
Choosing the Right Graphics
6. Communicating Technical Information
Getting Technical: An Overview
Ineffective Versus Effective Technical Communication
Strategies for Technical Communication
Features of an Effective Technical Style
7. Conducting Research for Business Writing
Research Overview: A Flowchart
Planning Your Research
Managing Your Project: Note-Taking Strategies
Doing Primary Research
Doing Library Research
Doing Internet Research
Organizing Your Findings
Using and Integrating Sources
Avoiding Plagiarism
Following APA Documentation Rules
APA References List
8. Business Writing Ethics
Guidelines for Ethical Writing
Information Ethics
Persuasion Ethics
II. Benchmarking Writing with the Seven Traits
9. The Seven Traits at Work
Traits of Ineffective Writing
Assessing an Ineffective Document
Traits of Effective Writing
Assessing an Effective Document
10. Trait 1: Strong Ideas
Stating Ideas Clearly
Supporting Ideas Effectively
Thinking Creatively
Thinking Logically
Using Thinking Patterns (From Describing to Evaluating)
11. Trait 2: Logical Organization
Strategies for Getting Organized
Foolproof Organization Strategies
Structuring Documents Through Paragraphing
12. Trait 3: Conversational Voice
Weak Voice
Strong Voice
Making Your Writing Natural
Making Your Writing Positive
Developing "You Attitude"
13. Trait 4: Clear Words
Cutting Unnecessary Words
Selecting Exact and Fresh Words
Avoiding Negative Words
14. Trait 5: Smooth Sentences
Smooth Sentences: Questions and Answers
Rough Problems and Smooth Solutions
Combining Choppy Sentences
Energizing Tired Sentences
Dividing Rambling Sentences
Sentence Smoothness in Action
15. Trait 6: Correct Copy
Basic Terms: A Primer for Correctness
Correcting Unclear Wording
Correcting Faulty Sentences
Correcting Punctuation Marks
Correcting Mechanical Difficulties
16. Trait 7: Reader-Friendly Design
Weak Versus Strong Design
Understanding Basic Design Principles
Planning Your Document''s Design
Developing a Document Format
Laying Out Pages
Making Typographical Choices
III. The Application Process and Application Writing
17. Understanding the Job-Search Process
Overview of the Job-Search Process
Assessing the Job Market
Guidelines for Career Plans
Conducting a Job Search
Researching Organizations
Using Web Resources
18. Developing Your Résumé
Guidelines for Résumés
19. Writing Application Correspondence
Guidelines for Application Letters
Guidelines for Recommendation-Request Letters
Guidelines for Application Essays
Guidelines for Job-Acceptance Letters
Guidelines for Job-Rejection Letters
Guidelines for Thank-You and Update Messages
20. Participating in Interviews
Interviewing for a Job or Program
Inappropriate or Illegal Questions
Common Interview Questions
Guidelines for Interview Follow-Up Letters
Interviewing a Job Applicant
IV. Correspondence: Memos, E-Mails, and Letters
21. Correspondence Basics
Writing Successful Correspondence
E-Mail, Memo, or Letter: What Should It Be?
Three Types of Messages
Correspondence Catalog
22. Writing Memos
Guidelines for Memos
Basic Memo
Expanded Memo
23. Writing E-Mail Messages and Sending Faxes
Guidelines for E-Mail Messages
E-Mail Model and Format Tips
Choosing and Using E-mail
E-Mail Etiquette and Shorthand
Faxing Documents
24. Writing Letters
Guidelines for Letters
Professional Appearance of Letters
Basic Letter
Expanded Letter
Letter Formats
Letters and Envelopes
Forms of Address
25. Writing Good-News and Neutral Messages
The Art of Being Direct
Guidelines for Informative Messages
Guidelines for Routine Inquiries and Requests
Guidelines for Positive Responses
Guidelines for Placing Orders
Guidelines for Accepting Claims
Guidelines for Goodwill Messages
26. Writing Bad-News Messages
The Art of Being Tactful
Guidelines for Denying Requests
Guidelines for Rejecting Suggestions, Proposals, or Bids
Guidelines for Explaining Problems
Guidelines for Resigning
Guidelines for Making Claims or Complaints
27. Writing Persuasive Messages
The Art of Persuasion
Guidelines for Special Requests and Promotional Messages
Guidelines for Sales Messages
Guidelines for Collection Letters
Guidelines for Requesting Raises or Promotions
28. Writing Form Messages
Guidelines for Form Messages
Standard Form Message
Menu Form Message
Guide Form Message
V. Reports and Proposals
29. Report and Proposal Basics
Writing Successful Reports and Proposals
Types of Reports and Proposals
30. Writing Short Reports
Guidelines for Incident Reports
Guidelines for Investigative Reports
Guidelines for Periodic Reports
Guidelines for Progress Reports
Guidelines for Trip or Call Reports
31. Writing Major Reports
Guidelines for Major Reports
32. Writing Proposals
Guidelines for Proposals
Operational Improvement Proposals
Sales or Client Proposals
Grant and Research Proposals
33. Designing Report Forms
Guidelines for Designing Report Forms
VI. Special Forms of Workplace Writing
34. Public-Relations Writing
Guidelines for News Releases
Guidelines for Flyers and Brochures
Guidelines for Newsletters
35. Writing Instructions
Types of Instructions
Tips for Writing Instructions
Guidelines for Instructions
36. Writing for the Web
Web Page Elements and Functions
Guidelines for Developing a Web Site
Sample Web Sites and Pages
VII. Management and Management Writing
37. Managing Your Time and Manners
Managing Your Time
Evaluating Your Time-Management Skills
Practicing Workplace Etiquette
Polishing Your Etiquette
Eating and Drinking
38. Managing Effectively
Managing Writing Tasks
Delegating Work
Solving Problems
Sustaining a Supportive Work Climate
Developing Successful Employees
Dealing with Discrimination
39. Management Writing
Guidelines for Mission Statements
Guidelines for Position Statements
Guidelines for Policy Statements
Guidelines for Procedures
Guidelines for Company Profiles (or Fact Sheet)
40. Human Resources Writing
Guidelines for Job Descriptions
Guidelines for Job Advertisements
Guidelines for Employer''s Follow-Up Letters
Guidelines for Employee Evaluations
Guidelines for Employee Recommendations
VIII. Speaking, Listening, and Giving Presentations
41. Communication Basics
Speaking Effectively
Listening Effectively
Giving and Taking Instructions
Giving and Taking Criticism
Understanding Conflicts
Resolving Conflicts
42. Communicating in a Group
Beginning a Group
Working in a Group
Making Decisions
Listening in a Group
Responding in a Group
Roles in a Group
Disagreeing in a Group
43. Communicating in Meetings
Formal Versus Informal Meetings
Formal Meetings
Order of Business for a Meeting
Making Motions
Officers and Their Responsibilities
Guidelines for Minutes
44. Writing and Giving Presentations
Giving Presentations
Planning Your Presentation
Organizing Your Presentation
Writing Your Presentation
Writing with Style and Motivational Appeals
Using Visual Support
Developing Computer Presentations
Practicing Your Delivery
Overcoming Stage Fright
IX. Proofreader''s Guide
45. Understanding Grammar
46. Constructing Sentences
Using Subjects and Predicates
Using Phrases
Using Clauses
Using Sentence Variety
47. Using Punctuation
Question Mark
Exclamation Point
Quotation Marks
Italics (Underlining)
48. Checking Mechanics
Acronyms and Initialisms
49. Using the Right Word
50. Addressing ESL Issues
The Parts of Speech
Understanding Sentence Basics
Sentence Problems
Numbers, Word Parts, and Idioms


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.

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Meet the Author

Author Bio

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.

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.

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.