DUE: Your Cover Letters and Résumés need to be submitted onto Canvas by 11:00 pm tonight.
Chapters 4 and 7 Tebeaux and Dragga
These two chapters are foundational chapters–they have basic information on revision and types of documents used for communication. Obviously, we’ll refer to Ch. 4 over the next few days, but Ch. 7 is one that should be in your minds throughout the semester. We won’t go page-by-page (unless I think there wasn’t enough reading…), but we will address the concerns Ch. 7 brings up throughout the term.
Chapter 4 in Tebeaux and Dragga
As I mentioned, these chapters have basic information on revision and types of documents used for communication. Our class activities cover a good portion of the chapters, but we’re not going page by page reviewing each detail. Of course, you are suppose to read, and reading is good for your Midterm and Final Exams.
I do want us to focus on a couple of places in Ch. 4, so have your books hand, and let’s illuminate the following:
- p. 57–Style is specific to the preferences of an organization, so organizational culture will determine style
- p. 58–Conciseness (or concision) vs. Brevity
- Concise: “An organization’s culture guides its style preference.”
- Brevity: “Org culture prefers specific style.”
- p. 60–Characteristics of good and bad writing
- Really, we should say “effective” and “ineffective writing.”
- What’s the purpose of technical writing?
- pp. 61-70–Word choices for clear, concise prose.
- Why are those words under “business jargon” on p. 69?
- I’ll comment on a couple below:
- “at the present writing”–the authors flag this because it’s unclear, but it might be clear in certain contexts. For instance, if you want to explain that, as of now, you only know so much about a topic that might change, similar phrasing can accomplish that.
- At this moment, the exchange rate from USD to EUR is too expensive for this venture to be profitable.
- “please be advised”–this one is flagged because the communication itself is an FYI, so you don’t need to explicitly state “please be advised”; instead, go right into the message.
- On January 1st, a new tax law took effect, so we must now report income on international transactions greater than $50,000.
- Refer back to Ch. 4 over the next few days, but Ch. 7 is one that should be in your minds throughout the semester.
Chapter 7 Tebeaux and Dragga
Even though there is overlap between Technical and Business Writing (why we often use “Professional” Writing/Communication to refer to both), we’re not trying to replicate a business writing class. Much of the content of Ch. 7 would be thoroughly examined in a business writing class, so we’re not going to spend too much class time on it. However, I want us to focus on a couple of places in Ch. 7, so pull out your books and let’s illuminate the following:
- pp. 151-153–Tone doesn’t carry well in e-mail because the reader doesn’t have voice or body language cues.
- The following phrases can be taken differently based on the tone of the speaker…
- “I hate you!” (The speaker dislikes the receiver greatly.)
- (While laughing) “I hate you.” (The speaker is being playful and joking with the receiver.)
*Via text: “I hate you :)”
- (Trailing one’s voice off at the end of a sentence) “I hate you…” (Could just be a way to acknowledge that the receiver’s in a better position than the speaker. For instance, the receiver got their taxes done in early February and got their refund within two weeks, but the speaker hasn’t filed yet, and it’s April 10th!)
- The following phrases can be taken differently based on the tone of the speaker…
- pp. 164-165–“Planning” and “Revising” Checklists
- Good list of questions for thinking (critically) about audience and purpose.
Practice Sentences from Monday (1/30)
Below I have revision suggestions for the practice sentences.
- The financial sector of the Charlotte economy mirrors the overall health of the economy as a whole. (17 words, reduce to 6)
- What is this sentence trying to say? Charlotte’s economy reflects the overall economy. Charlotte is a microcosm of the American economy.
- Obviously, “overall…as a whole” makes this sentence redundant. That repetition adds nothing to the sentence but extra words.
- Revision 1: Charlotte’s economy mirrors the overall economy. (6 words)
- Revision 2: Charlotte’s financial sector mirrors the overall economy. (7 words)
- The above revisions differ depending on what the original sentence meant to convey. Think of the “economy” as all the economic activity generated in a locale. The original stated “financial sector,” which for economists might really be the banking aspect of economic activity and not the entire Charlotte economy.
- Growth in these two segments are predicted to increase due to the surge of development in the north side of town. (21 words, reduce to 9 or 8)
- What is this sentence trying to convey? Development in one part of town will lead to growing two segments of the economy (most likely).
- Find the agent–“north side (or northside) development”
- Find an action verb–“grow”
- Revision 1: Surging northside development will grow these two segments. (8 words, 9 if you separate “north side”)
- Revision 2: We predict the northside development surge will grow these two segments. (11 words)
- Get the agent into the subject position. “Surging development” is the agent and it “will grow” the two segments.
- This divided direction caused a degree of confusion on my part as to the type and extent of response required. (20 words, reduce to 11 and 5)
- Revision 1: This divided direction confused me. I didn’t know how to respond. (11 words; 12 if you use “did not”)
- Revision 2: I’m confused and can’t respond. (5 words)
The third practice sentence is a classic example of going out of your way to add unnecessary words to a sentence. Basically, this person is confused and appears to be getting different interpretations about where the organization or project is going. Without context, it’s hard to know definitively, but the original sentence is a good example of what to look for when aiming for efficiency.
- Possible agents–the speaker or “I” in this case; also, the “divided direction” is a candidate.
- Better verbs–hidden in the nouns “confusion” and “response” are “confuse” and “respond,” respectively.
Getting an agent into the proper subject spot will solve most inefficiency problems in your sentences. Aim for active voice constructions and use more descriptive verbs to move your message along. For instance, don’t “provide a determination”–“determine”; don’t “make a utilization of” something–“use it”; and don’t “give an examination of the facts”–“examine them!”
One question I asked about the example revision was is there a difference between “doubt” and “in disbelief”? I think there is, so look at the original and revised sentences:
- Original: The bond markets are in disbelief of the ability of First world countries to maintain this level of debt. (19 words)
- Revision: The bond markets doubt First world countries can maintain this debt level. (12 words)
In the above revision, the verb “doubt” means one doesn’t believe something will continue. For instance, I doubt we will find a COVID-19 vaccine that eradicates current and future variants. Although “in disbelief” is similar to “doubt,” in disbelief suggests someone is shocked or can’t believe what they’re seeing or hearing. For instance, I’m in disbelief that people don’t get vaccinated. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe anti-vaxxers exist; instead, it means I’m shocked that people don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, which is a deadly disease. It’s a subtle difference, but using “doubt” or “in disbelief” can change the sentence’s meaning. The lesson here is to make sure you understand what the author is trying to communicate, and scrutinize your word choices.
Next week, we are going to continue with sentence-level exercises. These “lessons” are for you to carry with you for the rest of the semester. I’ve got pages up already if you’d like to preview what we’re going to do.
Is “Funner” a word? Think about why or why not, and I’ll explain later. Enjoy.
Homework and Future Work
We will continue with our Prose Revision lessons next week. They will be important for your Midterm (3/06) and Final (5/11) Exams.
Your Cover Letters and Résumés are due on Canvas by 11:00pm tonight.