Resources for business and technical writing

Rewriting for our reader’s sake


This course focuses on some key aspects of the third stage of writing; rewriting. The goal of this course is to help your writing become clearer, more concise, and more readable by polishing up your rewriting and editing skills. During this course we will examine spelling, grammar and punctuation challenges frequently encountered in technical and business writing; we will consider word choices and phrasing that reduce ambiguity and bloated writing; and we will work with sentence structure and organization to improve readability and support the points we are making.

Rewriting for our user’s sake micro-site

If you ever struggle with when to use a comma or a semicolon, are vague about using which or that, or find you use too many words to make your point; this course is for you.

We recommend that you take the Effective Writing for Business and Technology course before taking this course. This rewriting course focuses on one aspect of writing and builds on the concepts discussed in the effective writing course.

Designing Effective Résumés


Your résumé will not get you a job. But if it’s written well, and it presents the right image, it will get you an interview.

Your résumé is often the first impression a potential employer will have of you; it’s almost like your first interview. The appearance of your résumé should be selected with the same care you would use when selecting the clothes you would wear to an interview. Unfortunately, we often assume potential employers will read the details of our résumé before formulating a first impression of who we are.

Designing Effective Résumés micro-site

Effective Writing for Business and Technology


Technical and business professionals spend a lot of time reading and writing, and yet few have much formal training in this area. A survey from 1986-1998 found that engineers spent an average of 280 hours a year reading and 221 hours a year writing. That’s about 25% of their time. These averages are even higher for scientific and medical professionals.

Effective Writing for Business and Technology micro-site

Improving the effectiveness of our business writing will, as a minimum, result in more productive reading and writing efforts. Even more significant can be the consequences of poorly written material. For example:

  • An analysis of the NASA documents conducted by Dorothy A. Windsor showed a “history of miscommunication” as one of the root causes of the Challenger disaster in 1986.
  • A world-class oil company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing a new pesticide, only to discover that one of their own technicians had worked this out 5 years earlier. The reason this wasn’t realized sooner was because the report the technician wrote was so poorly written, that no one finished reading it.
  • Information released by the US Federal Government revealed that a nuclear-power plant supervisor ordered “ten foot long lengths” of radioactive material. But instead of getting the ten-foot units need, the plant received ten one-foot long rods.

The list goes on, and I’m sure many of us could add our own personal experiences to the list. Often avoiding these types of problems is just a matter of knowing and applying some well defined skills; the skills of effective writing.

Writing Summaries and Abstracts


Writing Summaries and Abstracts is a short course that examines the similarities and differences between summaries and abstracts and outlines strategies for developing each effectively.
Writing Summaries and Abstracts micro-site

Design and Authoring for the Online Media


The online media presents exciting opportunities for the efficient and effective delivery of information. Web sites, online help systems, intranets, and e-mail are firmly rooted in most of our business and technical world. But the online media extends beyond these to include blogs, chat rooms, online communities, wikis, and more.

The online media differs in many ways from conventional paper publishing and requires a special set of skills to use effectively. Two courses are offered to help you master authoring in the online media: Site Architecture for the online media, and Design and authoring for the online media.

Design and Authoring for the Online Media micro-site (This is now part of the unified OnlineMedia micro-site)

In this course we discover how to author pages that are organized, readable, easily comprehended and credible. We apply these skills while authoring pages using a combination of XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) within a managed environment.

Site Architecture for the Online Media


The online media presents exciting opportunities for the efficient and effective delivery of information. Web sites, online help systems, intranets, and e-mail are firmly rooted in most of our business and technical world. But the online media extends beyond these to include blogs, chat rooms, online communities, wikis, and more.

The online media differs in many ways from conventional paper publishing and requires a special set of skills to use effectively. Two courses are offered to help you master authoring in the online media: Site Architecture for the online media, and Design and authoring for the online media.

Site Architecture for the Online Media micro-site

In this course we review the benefits and challenges of the online media, and examine and practise the skills necessary to design sites that are well organized and easy to navigate. We apply these skills while developing an information site using a combination of XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and a Content Management System.

Flare–from Fundamentals to Mastery


Flare–from Fundamentals to Mastery is a combination of practical hands-on exercises and discussions periods that guide you through the development of actual HTML-based on-line information systems. This course provides practical experience using Flare to create feature-rich websites and on-line help systems.

Note, this site has been recently updated to the newest version of Flare, version 9.1.

Flare micro-site

By the conclusion of this course you will have:

  • Reviewed many capabilities provided by Flare to help manage on-line projects.
  • Reviewed the basics of HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
  • Prepared an on-line help system and a PDF manual using Flare.
  • Discussed the requirements for delivering context sensitive information.

The skills presented during this course are reinforced with practical hands-on exercises.

Flare-from fundamentals to Mastery, uses an activity centred workshop approach where we focus on a major project, and work together developing it with Flare.

Writing Engineering Specifications


Writing Engineering Specifications is a short course that applies the principles and practices of technical writing to preparing Engineering Specifications. The practical, hands-on, approach of this course is designed to assist technical and engineering specialists prepare effective engineering specifications.

By the conclusion of this course you will have:

  • reviewed the structure and use of MasterFormat 2004
  • examined some common mistakes made by writers when preparing engineering specifications
  • practised many of the writing skills necessary to prepare effective, unambiguous specifications

This course uses MasterFormat 2004 as the framework for preparing specifications, however the techniques discussed are equally applicable to any method of specification organization.

Writing Engineering Specifications micro-site