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SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY Clarity and Conciseness in Professional Writing
Presented by: Katie Shaw, Director of Enrollment Services Adventist University of Health Sciences
Define professional writing Importance of good grammar Audience recognition Email writing and etiquette Punctuation Write with active voice Resume tips
Been at Adventist University of Health Sciences (ADU) for almost 9 years
BA in English from Andrews University (AU) Was the News Writer at AU for 2 years Have taught Technical Writing at ADU for 7 years Edit most marketing documents for ADU Grammar nerd!
Professional Writing Defined
Composed primarily in the work environment for supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, vendors, and customers. Students Parents Constituents
We work in higher education Direct correlation between English I grades and high
graduation GPAs (recent ADU study)
Be sure to revise!
Writing can be personal Importance of revision
Your first draft is never your best Read it over Examples of good writing have always gone through
several revisions Dont be self-conscious about your writing
perfection comes out of revision!
Its very important to identify your audience High tech
n People who are in your same field or same department and know your lingo. You are writing to professional peers.
Low tech n Coworkers in other departments who know some of what you do
but are not as familiar with terms and procedures as you are.
Lay n People who neither work for your company nor have a lot of
knowledge of your field Multiple
n You have to write for a variety of audiences - could be all three
Where did you learn how to write effective emails? No extensive instruction at the college level
Why worry about grammar its just email! nEmail is the primary form of professional writing now. nEmail can be used as a legal document. nNever send an email that you wouldn't be comfortable
seeing on the front page of a newspaper.
Reply all Do you really need to respond to everyone?
Blind copies (bcc) Person blind copied can respond to all
nMay not realize they were blind copied
Better to copy (cc) so everyone knows whats going on
Clarity and Conciseness in Email
Provide specific detail Avoid using vague words like "recently" or "some" Answer the reporter's questions
Who, what, where, when, why, and how
Important Email Components
Identify yourself (your signature should do this effectively)
Provide an effective subject line Avoid uninformative subject lines like "Hi," "What's new," or
"Important message." Instead, use something like "Your ADU application file is
Keep your email brief Average attention span is 9 seconds or less
Use bulleted lists if possible Readers tend to skim or scan for important info
Let someone else read it Print it Let it sit Use technology (spell check, grammar check) Read it out loud
Be courteous Avoid angry email messages
Be professional You represent your employer with every email sent
from your work address
Commas, apostrophes, and colons are small but can make a big impact!
Make writing inclusive
Acronyms/abbreviations Is this an acronym everyone would know? (MRI, CIA,
SCUBA, etc.) Example: At ADU, you can become part of the HBS
department for Pre-Med or study nursing and set your sights on the NAP!
Use parenthetical definitions or just spell it out
Avoid idioms and jargon (crunch time, guesstimate, through the roof)
Spell out dates 7-1-13
n In some countries this would be interpreted not as July 1, 2013, but as January 7, 2013
Paint a Picture
Use active voice when writing Students can participate in a variety of ministries. When youre a student at ADU, you can participate in
ministries such as SALT (Service and Love Together), Ecclesia (Friday vespers), Circle Up (daily prayer), and many others!
Look at other resumes before you begin Use Word templates Good white space Try to keep to one page but can go over Choose appropriate fonts (no more than two in your
document) Avoid sentences Reader-friendly access (use bulleted lists) Begin lists with verbs (Accomplished, led, performed, etc.) Quantify your achievements
Begin by clearly identifying yourself and giving contact information
List career objectives Summary of qualifications
Tailor your resume to speak to the job you are applying for
Overview of skills, abilities, accomplishments, and attributes
Strengths relative to the job you're seeking
Education Omit high school, any colleges attended from which
you did not graduate
Employment Start with most recent employment (reverse
chronological) Omit jobs that have no relation to the position you're
seeking unless that's all you've done (leave out McDonald's and Taco Bell)
Professional Skills/Accomplishments Certifications Awards received Recognition
Memberships Professional affiliations
Important to say what you mean and mean what you say in professional writing
Good writing skills can open doors to new opportunities
Einsohn, Amy (2011). The copyeditors handbook: A guide for book publishing and corporate communication. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gerson, Sharon J. & Gerson, Steven M. (2013). Technical communication: Process and product. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Schuman, Nancy (2008). The everything resume book. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media.
Director of Enrollment Services
Adventist University of Health Sciences