February 2010  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Under Construction:
Write for Work

Write for Work - a practical guide to workplace writing and grammar - will be published in March 2010. This work-text for one- or two-year degree programs uses the "Company" approach. First, students are asked to profile a company they would like to work for; then they write as an employee of that company. This way, nursing students write about nursing and welding students about welding.

We are offering free review copies to instructors at universities, community colleges, technical schools, and high schools. Sign up to receive a review copy. (If you are not affiliated with an academic institution but are interested in receiving a review copy, please call 1-800-261-0637 ext. 24.)

Writing Instructions

Think of writing instructions as a vital means of helping someone complete a task or reach a goal. In this writing situation, organization is key, which means composing clear, easy-to-follow steps. Here are some tips for creating the most helpful instructions.

  • Identify the task or topic. Include any time or ability factors necessary to complete the project, allowing your reader to determine, before beginning, if the project is doable.
  • Include any warnings or notes. Explain if there are specific codes to be followed, or if a specific level of certification or skill is needed. Augment the text with clearly marked cautions where applicable.
  • List any tools or materials needed. Having everything on hand and ready will be a time-saver for the reader. If specific numbers or sizes of materials are needed (i.e., number-2 nails, fourteen 3-inch machine screws, etc.), be sure all are listed. Provide pictures or illustrations to identify materials, if possible.
  • Give the steps in order. Don't take for granted that a seemingly obvious step will be understood without instructions. Number the steps to lead your reader carefully through the process, and limit each one of those to a specific task.
  • Use clear terms. Use action verbs such as "tighten," "tap," and "clamp" to give the reader a picture of what should be done. For even clearer directions, use adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases such as "tighten clockwise," "tap on the side of the cylinder," or "clamp firmly to the base."
  • Write to the reader. Use simple, straightforward words that are easy to understand. Make sure each step logically follows the one before it.

Many instructions nowadays are given as illustrations only, with little or no actual written text. While pictures are helpful, actually explaining the steps can answer questions the reader may have - and ensure a properly finished project.

For solid help in creating instructions, follow the guidelines beginning on page 97 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing & Communicating in the Workplace, just one of the handy business writing materials from UpWrite Press.

That Little Extra

Ah, the Tax Man approacheth - are you all set? Now's a great time to get your tax information organized. (Sure, sure, you've been keeping everything precisely organized all year. Ri-i-ight!) In these cost-conscious times, it's even more important to check for every possible deduction. Make lists, dividing payments into charitable donations, medical expenses, and other deductible items. Don't forget the little things. You can usually deduct mileage to and from charitable volunteer work, as well as business travel expenses that are not reimbursed. You may also be able to deduct travel to and from medical treatments, and even some medical conference costs if the event pertains to your condition. Even some insurance payments may be deductible. Bottom line? Don't be afraid to ask your accountant about anything. Even the silliest-sounding question might lead to a deduction.

   

February Writers' Forum Topic

Here's your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we'll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

In this world of multitasking and snowballing activity, how do you stay organized? We're always looking for new ways to be more organized and productive. Give us your best tip for juggling that endless list of duties. Or share a funny story about a past snafu that forced you to finally get organized.

E-mail your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write "February Writers' Forum" in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

We Want to Hear from You

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you'd like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Write for Business Blog

Insights from our writing staff. February posts so far include:

Staff Articles

Understanding Grammar

Using the Right Word

Writing Rules

 

Visit our blog for these and other great articles!

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Featured Product

Based on the seven traits of good writing, the award-winning Write for Business includes guidelines, models, checklists, and templates to save time with all your business writing.

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