Advanced Business Writing/ENG 30063


Marilyn Seguin
Office 206
672-1738 and 672-2676
home 928-6907

Course description and Goals: English  30063 teaches writing as it typically exists in business and the professions. It assumes that professionals write for practical reasons. They write reports to solve problems, proposals to increase business, letters to get jobs. This type of practical writing is judged successful if it achieves the writer's goals, which usually requires meeting the reader's needs. Effective professional writing, then, must not only meet certain formal requirements particular to business and the professions, but like other kinds of writing show commitment on the part of the writer--it is clear, concise, accurate, thorough, and truthful. To that end, we will draw upon what you learned previously about effective prose and the writing process (invention, research, organizing, drafting, revision and editing), to analyze how textual genre function in business and professional settings. You will gain extensive individual and collaborative practice writing in these genres, and acquire further expertise in applying rhetorical techniques and in problem solving.

Assignment Descriptions

Course Outline

Class Policies: Attendance is very important in this class, given the emphasis on collaboration and peer revision and discussion. Please be on time, as I will take attendance at the beginning of each class session. One point will be subtracted for each unexcused absence. Attendance and class participation is worth 10% to your total grade for the course.

Work in this course must be original, and all ideas and words taken from sources outside your own knowledge must be given proper credit. Any incident of plagiarism will result in failing the paper and possibly more severe sanctions. Failing to give proper credit to borrowed sources in the business world sometimes results in lawsuits and dismissal from employment.

In accordance with University policy, if you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please contact the instructor at the beginning of the semester or when given an assignment for which such an accommodation is required. Students with disabilities must verify their eligibility through the Office of Student Disability Services in the Michael Schwartz Student Services Center (672-2972).

Advanced Business Writing--Course Outline Sample

Week 1
Introduction to course
Kinds of reports
Planning for writing reports

Week 6
Assignment #3 discussion
Analyzing writing style
Analyzing document design

Week #11
Preparing oral presentations and visuals 

Week 2
Collaborating on written reports
Organizing routine reports

Week #7
Discussion of company manuals
Assignment #3 due Friday

Week #12
Progress reports (assignment #5

Week 3
In class workshop
Revising and proofreading techniques
Friday--assignment #1 due

Week #8
Discussion of assignment #4
Planning research
Writing proposals

Week #13
Illustrating the report
Thanksgiving week--fall

Week 4
Assignment #2 discussion
Researching with the WEB
In class workshop

Week #9
Project idea discussion
Assignment #4 due Friday

Week #14
Individual conferences Monday and Wednesday
Peer review session Friday

Week 5
In class workshop
Discussion of letter report format and 
graphic highlighting
Assignment #2 due Friday

Week #10
Criteria for writing the formal research report
Primary and secondary research  

MLA style of documentation

Week #15
Peer review session Monday
Major project due Wednesday
Evaluation and windup on Friday

No final exam, but we'll meet during finals week so that I can return your graded final projects.
This syllabus is tentative and may be changed depending on the progress of the class.

Assignment Descriptions


Assignment 1 Collaborative Web Quest (10 points)

Assignment #2 Incorporating technology-based research into the letter report (10 points)

Search and locate three general business related web sites of interest to you. In a letter report to Marilyn Seguin, identify and describe the potential usefulness of these sites in business education.

Assignment #3 Evaluation report of company manuals (10 points)

Obtain samples of employee manuals from two different organizations, either by contacting the company directly or by viewing its web site. In a memorandum report (collaborative or individual, your choice) to Marilyn Seguin, explain which manual is more effective, basing your judgment on a critical review of the following:

*Writing style: Is it clear, simple, easy to understand? Does it protect the company from legal liability? What other elements of writing style are strong or weak?

*Document design: Is the format consistent throughout the manual? Does the format contribute to user-friendliness? Are the illustrations useful? Are they placed in appropriate places throughout the document? What elements of the design are strong or weak?

Assignment #4 Proposal for major project (10 points)

Analyze the problem your project (research report, proposal or manual) will solve for the organization of your choice. Describe the audience who will read it, the project purpose, and provide a rough outline of the body of the project.

Assignment #5 Progress report (10 points)

In an oral presentation enhanced with visual aids, give a progress report for the major project. Include background or description of the project, how much has been completed, what remains to be completed, problems encountered or anticipated, and expected date of completion.

Assignment #6 Major project (40 points)

Write a 10-page report, proposal or manual that solves a specific problem in an organization of your choice. The project should include both primary and secondary sources, as well as at least one graphic or illustration. The report should follow the documentation style as outlined in class (Chicago Manual of Style). See list of project examples below.

Attendance, class participation and miscellaneous assignments--10 points

A note on peer editing--On the day your assignment is due, please come to class with your very best revision. We will use peer editing during class time for all six assignments, and you will have an opportunity to make changes during that time. You will be wasting this valuable time if you bring only a rough draft with you for the peer editing session.

Examples of writing projects (Assignment #6)

  1. A policy manual on e-mail use at an organization.


  1. A company home page (with links to supplemental information).


  1. Research report on long distance providers or internet service providers available locally.


  1. Business plan for a start up in our area. Possibly include several employment policies for that business, or a set of instructions for one task that an employee would have to perform in that business.


  1. Research report on software options available for purchase and use, i.e. feasibility study of purchasing Wordperfect or Microsoft Word for word processing tasks.


  1. Employee handbook, including a company ethics statement.


  1. A set of instructions for using a computer program, for example, PowerPoint.


  1. Instructions manual for setting up an accounting system at a small business; or, instructions manual for students taking classes in TWRC.


  1. Interview several managers of companies in your area to determine if report writing is an important component of the business. Who writes them, what kinds of reports are produced, what style guides are used? Write a report of your findings, showing whether expectations are consistent or inconsistent among the businesses. The title for this paper might be: Report Structures and Formats in Local Businesses.


  1. Interview someone who has started a business in the last five years. Write a report describing the process of the entrepreneur's planning for start up of that business, and include his or her views about writing business plans.

Note: An important component of this assignment is to make contact with a real company, local or otherwise.

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