Professional and Technical Writing/FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
When creating a business document/ proposal how can you grasp your reader’s attention and persuade them that what you are writing is beneficial to them?
- Be very direct and clear when explaining your topic
- Avoid vague, non-descriptive sentences
- Be straight forward and state your topic first
- Then express that what they are reading has many benefits to them as readers (State the benefits)
- Be sure to write in your reader's perspective. Pretend that you are the reader, what will you want to see on the proposal?
Remember that the number one thing that writers do wrong when presenting their proposal/ documents is assuming that the readers understand the value of the information you present. (Paul V. Anderson, Technical Communication, A Reader- Centered Approach). To avoid this error, put yourself in the reader’s position and make sure you explain the value of your topic and that all your key points are being met.
When creating your proposal, how can you tell that you have included all the information necessary to sell your product?
In the book Technical Communication, A Reader-Centered Approach, by Paul V. Anderson, they have created a list of key points to include in your proposal. The following key points can determine how well your proposal will sell.
- Having an introduction
- Introducing the problem
- Projecting the objective
- Proposing a solution
- Producing a method
- Identifying all the resources needed
- Creating a schedule of deadlines
- Sharing your qualifications
- Showing you have management skills
- Explaining all costs involved
- Show that your idea or plan can be profitable
Positive vs. Negative
When writing a business letter should more positive or negative words be used?
- Generally people respond to positive wording rather than negative wording. Words are powerful and the way they are presented can affect how the reader will respond to the letter one is writing. Positive wording can persuade the reader into getting on board with what your letter is trying to convey. In contrast, negative words can build a roadblock and create resistance to the key points in your business letter. The effects of positive vs. negative writing can also be seen in other types of business writing. It is a good rule of thumb to write in a positive manner when writing to promote the completion of your objective.'
What if you have to incorporate negative words within your business letter?
- The Owl at Purdue says: When you need to present negative information, soften its effects by superimposing a positive picture on a negative one.
The Owl at Purdue emphasizes in the following to help with incorporating negative information.
- Stress what something is rather than what it is not.
- Emphasize what the firm or product can and will do rather than what it cannot.
- Open with words of action rather than an apology or explanation.
- Avoid words which convey unpleasant facts.
- Turn the negative into a positive.
Words to Use
When writing your business document, memo, or proposal, how do you know when the words you are using are too descriptive?
- The number one thing you should never include is short phrases. An example of a type of short phrase is, "In order to" when all you need to say was "To". If you were writing an English paper, you would say "In order to", but for a professional business document that phrase is wordy and unnecessary. Using "to" instead is straight and to the point.
- Next, using words ending in -ly, are extra and make the document very wordy. Again this is not straight to the point.
- Another key point is to not use the words "very", "so" or "really". These are redundant and do not need to be included in documents.
- Lastly, being over descriptive could potentially hurt you. In the business world things are fast pace. Employees, client, etc, don’t have time to read lengthy documents. Less can be better and getting straight to the key points when writing your business document, memo, or proposal is big part of being successful. Make your reader wants to read your document and never feels it is a waste of their time.
Business Writing vs. Academic Writing
How is technical writing different from academic writing?
Technical writing is short, concise, and to the point. Academic writing is lengthy and uses strict grammar techniques. In business as long as it all makes sense you can get a way with improper grammar. For example, ending a sentence with a preposition is okay in business. When writing in business, the shorter the document is (as long as it has the right information) the better. Also, in business the more charts, graphs, and pictures that can be used to make the document easier to read and quicker to read, the more it is effective.
What are some examples of when technical writing is appropriate?
- Business Proposals
- Marketing Plans
- Cover Letters
- Feasibility Studies
When writing a memo, how should you format it? How many pages should it be? What key point should be included?
- Memos should always be placed in a template to insure order.
- Usually when writing a memo you only want it to be one page, this allows only key points to be presented. But sometimes you may be asked to write a longer memo, and that is okay, as long as all the content pertains to your project and is important.
- Generally, key points include dates, times, deadlines, or overview on what you are working on.
- Make sure to include a specific, informative subject line so the reader knows what the memo is about.
- A memo can be used as a legal document and can get you in trouble, so make sure that you are stating facts and including dates, so it doesn't hurt you in the long run.
- To make sure you keep organized and in order, headings are used often in memos.
When revising your document, how can you decided what changes are the most significant to make?
In the text book Technical Communication, they talk about having your document hold:
Before you begin making revisions, it is important to postpone on making mechanical corrections until the final revision. Remember when writing documents it is best to stay on point. This will eliminate potential mechanical errors that can occur. Lastly, when looking to make improvements on your documents revisions follow this list that is proved by the textbook Technical Communication:
- Adding essential information that was overlooked
- Correcting misspellings
- Repairing obvious errors in grammar
- Fixing major organizational difficulties
- Supplying missing topic sentences
- Revising sentences that are tangled but still understandable
- Correcting less obvious problems in grammar
How can you organize your information before writing your business letter?
According to the text Technical Communication, a writer should first:
- Describe the objective
- Explain the process
- Show competitors
- Cause and effect
- Problem and solution
- Combination of solutions
This can help in the strengthening the communication and allow your readers to identify the main points you are focusing on whether it is a memo, proposal, business letter, or other document. Also when organizing your information remember that there is a place for all your information and that information only has one place and one place ONLY (Technical Communication). Headings and subheadings can be used to create distinct sections of where information can be founds. This also makes writing the document easier if you are organized prior. Being repetitive throughout your writing can be detracting and make your reader lose interest. That is why it is important to classify all your information. This can insure a positive outcome of the key points within your memo, proposal, business letter, feasibility study, or other business documents.
What is the importance of a feasibility study?
- A feasibility study is defined in the text book, Technical Communication, as an evaluation of the practicality and desirability of pursuing a course of action.
- Feasibility studies are designed to help future investors decide on which course of action or product to invest in.
Having a well structured feasibility study serves as important framework for the people you are presenting for. It provides an effective way on presenting your information. Our textbook, Technical Communication by Paul V. Anderson, gives an outline for us to be able to create a feasibility study efficiently.
What is the superstructure for a feasibility report?
- Overview of alternative
What are important tips for preparing a feasibility report?
- Don't cut corners on this report it will entice investors.
- Read through example feasibility reports to get a better idea of what is expected.
- Ask potential investors or grant-giving organizations what information they need to make a decision and then include that in your feasibility study.
- Be realistic in your projections, as investors may be wary of an over-stated financial projection.
- Do your homework. Don't just make up numbers as your investors will probably do research on their own and if the numbers aren't close, they will question your business management abilities.
- Come prepared, give your investors examples for what you are preparing for them, visual aid will help them see your vision for them clearly.
Word Processing Software
Rules of Thumb
- Always use 1 space between sentences when using a non-typewriting font such as Arial, Times New Roman, etc.
- Format Document using 1 inch margins for professional look and feel, if binding the left hand side of the document, change the the left margin to 1.25 inches.
- Never leave excess space between paragraphs, graphics, etc.
- Make use of the header and footer tool for information to organize the document. In case it becomes separated it can easily be reorganized
- For all reports, use a Table of Contents to easily organize information into sections, to aid the reader in finding the necessary information.
- Never use a font size, bigger than 12 point for body text and avoid going below 10 point
- Single space for a professional look (only double space if professors or business's outline so)