In order not to go crazy

teaching business/technical

writing for 35 years in college, you go out into the world

and work with real writers in the workplace who are writing

for real readers.

                                In the process you lose the theory

and the usual academic approach and discover the obvious

first principles of communicating useful information to people

who need it.

Then you write a textbook that focuses on these

fundamental concepts and techniques and you teach them

to students, whom you have in class for less than

40 hours, realizing how easy the principles are to learn

but how much practice it takes

before they become



Here’s that textbook, Mastering Workplace Writing (MWW).

MWW shows students how practical writing (“business”/”technical”) is ISSUE-driven, the ISSUE being an area of shared interest between the writer and the reader (user)—why the writer is writing and why the reader is reading.

MWW explains how to keep the reader’s LEVEL OF INTEREST high and their LEVEL OF EFFORT low.

MWW shows how useful content generates from knowing and answering the real reader’s (user’s) questions about the ISSUE in question (using an appropriate methodology—expertise, experience, research).

MWW shows how the 3 working parts of a document are shaped around the user’s “3” Macro Questions:

1.  What is this and why should I care? [INTRODUCTION ending with a preview of topics to be covered (reader-questions to be addressed).

2.  What’s “the story”? [DISCUSSION addressing the reader’s questions and supporting those answers (which are smaller questions).

3.  What, if anything, is next? [ENDING letting the reader know what you or they will do next, offering recommendations, or, if nothing will follow, simply saying farewell.

MWW shows the important of designing a document to create the best User eXperience, including the use of informative headings to show where each new section or sub-section begins (matching the preview of topics—roadmap—provided in the PREVIEW at the end of the introduction), as well as managing font choices, line lengths, and graphics.

MWW shows how to make paragraphs deductive (inductive if necessary), unified, coherent, and adequately developed without being so long that they hinder the reader.

MWW shows how to craft sentences that communicate the way the brain is wired to parse information from strings of words (not merely S-V-O). And it explains and shows students how to use coordination and subordination for best emphasis.

 MWW shows how to write in plain English, never reducing the complexity of the information being communicated but always making that complexity easier for the reader to manage.

MWW offers appendices on ensuring correct mechanics and showing the finer points of creating email, memos, letters, reports, resumes, oral reports, and graphics.

Mastering Workplace Writing provides exercises

for practice/assignments at the ends of each chapter.

And MWW comes with a 114-page Teacher’s Guide in PDF format (lots of pictures), which discusses approaches to teaching each chapter, offers a sample syllabus, and lays out a grading rubric.

If this sounds interesting to you, check out the textbook on Amazon


Let me know if you’d like to see the Teacher’s Guide and order a free examination copy.

I’d also love to field any questions you’d care to toss my way.

The first edition sold out. The second edition is available through Amazon.

Student reaction to the textbook has been amazingly strong (