- Workplace Writing
- Writing for the Job Search
- Writing at the Graduate Level
- Writing for Publication
Many people engage in specific types of writing, particularly non-academic and technology-based writing, that they might not even think of as "writing." But these specific types of writing--such as emails and web-based writing--require writers to meet certain guidelines in order to be effective. This section provides resources for writing emails, writing for the web, and writing for the job search.
Also see: Writing in the Disciplines for specific types of academic writing in Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences | Conducting Research for resources on how to write a research paper | Writing with Technology for information on free online tools, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft PowerPoint.
Note for Montclair State University Students: MSU's Center for Career Services & Cooperative Education also offers assistance with writing related to career and graduate school applications. See their in-person workshop schedule, online workshops, and resources page. Also, check out their video on writing an e-resume and their free resume assistance program, Optimal Resume.
WRITING FOR EMAIL
Email is one of the dominant ways people communicate at home, work, and school. Even though email is used for both formal and informal communications, one needs to consider the setting and audience when composing a message. In other words, it may be appropriate to use a casual tone in an email to a friend, but that tone may be inappropriate when making a formal request of a professor. These resources address such issues involved in email etiquette.
The Art of Netiquette (University of Iowa) "The following is a list of some of the more common rules associated with Netiquette to help you effectively communicate with others electronically."
Email Etiquette (Purdue OWL)
"Although instant and text/SMS messaging is beginning to supplant email for some groups' primary means of Internet communication, effective and appropriate email etiquette is still important. This resource will help you to become an effective writer and reader/manager of email."
Email Tune-up (businessenglishpod.com)
Posted on YouTube | April and November 2008
A series of video podcasts for ESL students who want to improve their business email writing skills. Here is a list of several of these 9-10 minute videos.
- Email Tune-up 01: Overview (9:43)
- Email Tune-up 02: Asking for Feedback (9:21)
- Email Tune-up 04: Bad News Messages (10:49)
Email Writing (Texas A&M University Writing Center)
Includes audio, a transcript, and tips for writing an email based on the email's intended recipient.
How to Practice Email Etiquette (Tracy Goodwin, expertvillage.com)
Posted on YouTube: September 25, 2008
Series of short (1 - 1 1/2 minute) videos on email etiquette in a business environment. Here is a list of segments in this series:
- Attachments (1:24)
- Greetings & Closings in E-Mails (1:13)
- Order of Importance & E-mail Etiquette - (1:12)
- Signatures (1:24)
- Writing E-Mail Subject Lines (1:19)
WRITING FOR THE WEB
General Tutorials on Web Content, Writing for Web Sites "The tutorials below cover how visitors read content on the Web and how to write effectively for the Web. See also below for specific topics: Writing 'About Us' Content for the Web and Writing Headlines and Titles for the Web."
Writing for the Web (Nielsen Norman Group, Dr. Jakob Nielsen) A list of articles related to "Writing for Web."
Writing for the Web: The Blog of Writing for the Web (4th ed.) Blog posts related to Writing for the Web, 4e by Crawford Kilian.
- General Resources
- Cover Letters
- References and Recommendations
- Correspondence with Prospective Employers
- What is an action verb? (Purdue OWL) An explanation of why we should use action verbs when writing professionally and applying to jobs.
- Categorized List of Action Verbs (Purdue OWL) “This categorized list contains only a few action verbs you can use to compose concise, persuasive, reader-centered resumes, cover letters, or other types of workplace documents. The examples are illustrations that overview the uses of action verbs in professional writing.”
- List of Action Verbs for Resumes & Professional Profiles (Wake Forest University) (PDF) A list of action verbs categorized according to skill sets.
Determining Audience (Purdue OWL) “This handout provides information on how to tailor your employment documents to a specific audience.”
Example Employment Documents (Purdue OWL) (PDF) This PDF contains “examples of resumes, CVs, and cover letters for a variety of disciplines.” It is annotated with comments on organization, grammar, layout, language, and other useful tips.
Identifying Your Strengths Worksheet (Florida Gulf Coast University, Career Development Services) (PDF) A worksheet that prompts you to assess your transferable skills and personal qualities and provide examples of them. This type of self-evaluation prepares you for writing your cover letter, writing your resume, and answering interview questions.
Job Interview Worksheets (The Resource Center for Technology) (PDF) A collection of worksheets that can assist job seekers in defining their objectives, collecting information for their resumes, writing their cover letters, filling out application forms, and acing their interviews.
Job Skills Checklist (Purdue OWL) “The following is a sample list of skills found in a cross section of careers. Circle every skill that applies to you. Jot down examples of situations in your working life that demonstrate this skill. Then try to incorporate these skills into your resume and/or cover letter.”
Know your strengths and weaknesses before you search (Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder) An article about how to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses before applying for jobs and how this preparation will benefit you.
Reading and Using Job Ads (Purdue OWL) This resource discusses the organization and language used in job ads, along with strategies for critically reading and understanding ads.
Tailoring Documents (Purdue OWL) “This handout provides information on how to tailor your employment documents to a specific audience.”
A Cover Letter Is (Montclair State University Center for Career Services & Cooperative Education)
This link describes the purpose and form of a cover letter. It also includes a link to sample letters in Optimal Resume.
Cover Letters 1: Quick Tips (Purdue OWL Workplace Writers) "This page provides a down-and-dirty guide to writing cover letters. Here you will find brief answers and lists of what you should include in a cover letter, how to order and format such a letter, and what to do before sending it out."
Cover Letters 2: Preparing to Write (Purdue OWL Workplace Writers) "Before you start to write a cover letter, you should gather information about yourself, the company, and the job. This page will help you learn what kind of information to find, where to find it, and how and why to use that information to 'sell yourself' in a cover letter."
Cover Letters 3: Writing Your Cover Letter (Purdue OWL Workplace Writers) This page includes information on writing your heading, addressing your cover letter, and writing your introduction, body, and closing paragraphs.
Guide: Curriculum Vitae (Writing@CSU) A step-by-step guide to writing your CV. Use the navigation bar on the right to view different categories.
Resume and Cover Letter Writing: Curriculum Vitae (Marquette University, Career Services Center) Describes how a CV differs from a resume and how to compile information for your CV.
Resumes and Vitas (Purdue OWL) "These OWL resources will help you compose effective résumés and Curriculum Vitae for your job search. This section includes resources on page design (which includes using white space, headings, and fonts), as well as resources on tailoring your résumé for specific employers. This section also contains links to other OWL resources geared for working class positions."
Sample Curriculum Vitae (About.com) Here are some CV examples, formats, and templates for academic, IT, medical, and international positions, among others.
Writing Curriculum Vitae (About.com) Includes information on when to use a CV and how it differs from a resume.
Writing the Curriculum Vitae (Purdue OWL) “This handout provides an overview of strategies for writing an effective curriculum vitae. This topic is particularly important for graduate students who are entering the academic job market for the first time.”
100 Potential Interview Questions (Thad Peterson, Monster.com) “While there are as many different possible interview questions as there are interviewers, it always helps to be ready for anything. So we've prepared a list of 100 potential interview questions. Will you face them all? We pray no interviewer would be that cruel. Will you face a few? Probably. Will you be well-served by being ready even if you're not asked these exact questions? Absolutely.”
“Employment Interview Preparation: A Writing-to-Learn Approach” (Katharine Hansen, Quintessential Careers) (PDF) “Many career experts, including the authors, agree that job-seekers are better prepared and perform better in job interviews when they have written and rehearsed answers to common interview questions. Novice job-seekers, such as college students, often have little or no interviewing experience, and because of this inexperience, some college instructors assign various interviewing-related projects to students. This article suggests that many of the techniques used to aid students, such as mock interviews, are not only successful, but based on solid theory taken from a variety of fields. This article synthesizes the literature and describes one approach to enhancing our students’ preparation for the job market.”
Job Interview Questions Worksheet (Joliet Junior College, Career Services) (PDF) A handout of frequently asked interview questions with space for you to fill out your responses.
Preparing for a job interview (CBS) Posted by CBS News on January 12, 2012 | length: 4:21 “Ed Muzio, CEO of Group Harmonics, unveils a three-step model on how best to prepare for a job interview.” He describes how to extract information from the job description, provide evidence of your skills, anticipate interview questions, and prepare questions to ask the prospective employer.
Telephone interviews & screening (Virginia Tech, Career Services) A list of some of the best practices for phone interviews from how to prepare to your tone of voice and mannerisms during the interview.
Applicant Request for a Reference (Purdue OWL) Here are some suggestions for contacting people you wish to serve as references for you.
How to Ask for a Reference (Alison Doyle, About.com) Here are some suggestions for asking someone to serve as a reference for you and creating your reference list.
Letter of Recommendation: How to Ask for It (Peterson’s Company) Tips on choosing your recommenders, asking for the letter, and sending a thank you.
Letters of Recommendation – Letters of Reference: Personal and Professional Letter Samples and Templates (Savetz Publishing) “155 letter of recommendation templates you can download and print for free. We have tips on writing letters of recommendation and as well as templates including letters of recommendation and letters of reference for employment, college and graduate school, adoption, apartment rental, and other personal and professional situations.”
Sample Reference Request Letter (Alison Doyle, About.com) This is a very basic template for writing a letter/e-mail asking someone to serve as a reference for you. You might also want to describe the position you are applying for and attach your current resume to the e-mail.
Tips for Obtaining Letters of Recommendation (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Psychology Department) (PDF) This site offers “general guidelines for asking someone to write a letter of recommendation. Check with your recommender to determine whether she or he has specific guidelines.”
Guidelines for Writing Letters of Recommendation (Linda Kaiser of the University of Missouri; Retrieved from Clemson University, Center for Career and Professional Development) (PDF) A two-page handout on what to include in the opening, body, and conclusion of a letter of recommendation. The PDF also contains a sample letter.
How to Be a Good Reference for an Employee, Student, or Friend (Cristine Travis, Yahoo Voices) “Being a reference isn't as simple as it used to be because references are no longer asked to simply verify a few simple facts. And references are being required for more and more positions, from volunteer work to low level internships. If you're in a position of authority, odds are good that sooner or later someone will ask you to be a reference for them. If you like the person, trust their work, and want to help them get into school, get a new job, or get an internship, here's what you can do to be a good reference.”
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (California State University, Long Beach, Center for Scholarship Information) Suggestions from Harvard College and Monster.com for writing letters of recommendation for your students, employees, coworkers, and friends.
How to Write a Recommendation Letter (Susan M. Heathfield, About.com) Useful tips on what to include/not include in a letter of recommendation.
“If your reference says this, you’ll get a job” (Amy Levin-Epstein, CBS) This article explains what you can do to prepare your references to speak about you or, if you are serving as a reference for someone, what you can say to help the person sound like a top candidate.
Top 10 Sample Recommendation Letters (Karen Schweitzer, About.com) “Writing a recommendation letter for someone else is a huge responsibility and getting everything just right is important. If you are seeking inspiration, the following sample recommendation letters should help. These sample recommendations are the most popular samples on the site.”
Acceptance Letter (Purdue OWL) General guidelines for what to include in a letter/e-mail when you are accepting a job offer.
Follow-Up After No Response to an Interview (Purdue OWL) General guidelines for what to include in a follow-up letter/e-mail when you have not heard back from a company after an interview.
Follow-Up to an Interview (Purdue OWL) General guidelines for what to include in a follow-up letter/e-mail after an interview along with a model letter.
How to Write a Letter of Interest for a Job (Randy O. Williams, eHow) The transcript of an interview with Charles Purdy, editor of Monster, about how to write a letter of interest to a prospective employer.
Inquiry about Cover Letter and Resume (Purdue OWL) General guidelines for what to include in an inquiry letter/e-mail when you have not received a response to your job application. This site also provides a model letter.
Letter of Interest Sample (Alison Doyle) An example of a letter/e-mail you would write to a company that has not advertised specific openings. This letter allows you to inquire about potential openings, emphasize your interest in the company, and highlight your skill set.
Letter When You Receive a Rejection (Purdue OWL) “Consider writing a letter even when you receive a rejection. Sometime later when you have had additional experience or training, you may want to apply to the firm once more. The letter shows that you were extremely interested in working for the particular company and states your interest in applying for another position at a later date.” This site offers suggestions about what to include in this letter/e-mail.
Model for Writing a Request for Further Negotiations (Purdue OWL) An example of how to professionally and politely discuss a job offer you would like to negotiate.
Rejection of Job Offer (Purdue OWL) General guidelines for what to include in a letter/e-mail when you are not accepting a job offer.
Telephone use and issues in your job search (Virginia Tech, Career Services) Tips for maintaining good phone etiquette during your job search.
Three Simple Rules for Emailing Potential Employers (Peter Weddle, CareerCast) An article about how to converse with prospective employers that includes three key tips: use formal language, pay attention to your tone, and think about how you’re representing yourself.
Writing Professional Letters (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Career Services) (PDF) This document discusses the structure and content of different correspondence between you and your prospective employer. Some topics include an interview confirmation letter, a post interview thank you letter, and job offer acceptance/declination/clarification letters. Sample letters are located at the end of the document.
WRITING AT THE GRADUATE LEVEL
10 tips for writing a grad school personal statement (Billie Streufert, USA Today) “While you cannot change your grade point average or entrance exam scores, you have complete control over the contents of your personal statement. There are many applicants and few spots, so work diligently to persuade readers that you fit their program given your qualifications, interests and professional goals. Use the tips below to prepare and refine your essay.”
How to Write a Law School Personal Statement (Ann Levine, U.S. News & World Report) An article that discusses the myths of writing personal statements for law school.
Writing a Personal Statement (Binghamton University, Career Development Center) (PDF) Includes strategies for focusing your essay, prewriting questions, resources, and tips.
Writing a Personal Statement (George Mason University, The Writing Center) A list of rhetorical questions to ask yourself when preparing a personal statement.
Writing the Personal Statement (Purdue OWL) “This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.” It includes rhetorical questions to ask yourself before you begin writing and helpful advice. The following sections are also excellent resources:
- Advice from Admissions Representatives (Purdue OWL) Read about what admissions officers from different colleges say they’re looking for in an admissions essay or statement.
- Examples of Successful Statements (Purdue OWL) Two personal statement examples that can serve as resources for writers composing their own personal statements.
- Personal Statement: Top 10 Rules and Pitfalls (Purdue OWL) As the title suggests, this source lists some “dos” and “don’ts” for writing a personal statement.
Writing Personal Statements (University of Delaware, Career Services Center) (PDF) An overview of writing personal statements with general tips, a suggested process, self-reflective questions, and a list of “dos” and “don’ts.”
Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement (The Princeton Review) A brief list of tips for writing a personal statement when you’re applying to medical school.
Common Problems with IRB Applications (Montclair State University, IRB) The Montclair State University IRB has compiled a list of common issues with applications they review. Here is a list of these issues and a description of the measures you can take when completing your application to avoid them.
How do I improve my consent’s “readability,” or lower its “reading level”? (Montclair State University, IRB) (PDF) This document explains how to test your document’s readability according to the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and the steps you can take to improve its readability.
How to Prepare an IRB Application (Timothy J. Williamson, CGU, The Writing Center) (PDF) These PowerPoint slides, in the form of a PDF, provide an overview of the purpose and components of an IRB application.
“Identifying and Avoiding Bias in Research” (Christopher J. Pannucci and Edwin G. Wilkins, National Institutes of Health) In the second section of this article, “Pre-trial bias,” you can learn about “the importance of clearly defining both risk and outcome, the necessity of standardized protocols for data collection, and the concepts of selection and channeling bias.” Clearly defining, acknowledging, and/or avoiding non-intentional bias in your research design will help you submit a well-planned and thorough IRB application.
Institutional Review Board (IRB) Application Samples (California State University, San Marcos) This website contains PDFs of IRB applications submitted to the IRB at California State University. Although IRB forms vary from one institution to another, many of the categories on the forms are similar. Reviewing these forms can provide you with a sense of the appropriate language, tone, and detail involved in a formal research application.
Montclair State University: Institutional Review Board (Montclair State University, IRB) “The purpose of this website is to provide investigators and the research community at MSU with the information and materials that are needed to obtain IRB approval of research that involves human participants.”
Readability-Score.com (Added Bytes) Copy and paste your text into the blank field, and this site will instantly generate its Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level, Gunning-Fog Score, Coleman-Liau Index, SMOG Index, and Automated Readability Index. It will produce an average grade level based on these scores. Text statistics, such as character and word counts, are calculated as well.
Tips to Reduce IRB Application Turnaround Time (The University of Mississippi, IRB) These tips from the University of Mississippi include some best practices for all researchers submitting IRB applications.
WRITING YOUR THESIS, PROSPECTUS, OR DISSERTATION
Example Prospectus (University of Southern Mississippi, Honors College) This site includes links to 10 prospectus examples from different disciplines. When you click on an example, it will open in a new window as a PDF.
How Theses Get Written: Some Cool Tips (Steve Easterbrook, University of Toronto) (PDF) These presentation slides offer tips for writing your thesis and insights into how your examiner/advisor might review or comment on your work.
How to Organize your Thesis (John W. Chinneck, Carleton University) This page highlights the importance of graduate research, offers a generic thesis structure, and provides some suggestions for writing your thesis.
How to Write an Abstract/Prospectus (UNLV, Writing Center) This page explains the differences between an abstract and prospectus and discusses the components of each.
Thirty Tips For Dissertation Writing (Steve Tjoa, Stanford University) In this post, Tjoa presents 30 tips for writing a dissertation from Dr. Rachna Jain, a dissertation coach.
Time Management Tips for Dissertation Writing (Elizabeth Gritter, UNC Chapel Hill; Retrieved from St. Cloud State University) (PDF) In this handout, Gritter presents time management strategies for people who are writing their dissertations.
Writing a Prospectus (University of Florida) This page includes general tips for writing a prospectus, along with questions to get you started and a generic structure template.
Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation (Joseph Levine, Michigan State University) “Instead of examining such aspects as identifying appropriate sample size, field testing the instrument and selecting appropriate statistical tests, this guide looks at many of the quasi-political aspects of the process. Such topics as how to select a supportive committee, making a compelling presentation of your research outcomes and strategies for actually getting the paper written are discussed.”
Writing the Thesis (Mark C. Griffin, San Francisco State University) (PDF) “This guide is designed to give you a procedural outline for working on your thesis. Every thesis project will have special considerations that are not covered here. You should consult with your committee early and frequently to resolve how to handle these special considerations.” The format and documentation of your project will vary based upon your school and discipline.
Writing Tips for a Master’s Thesis (Erin Schreiner, eHow) Here are six suggestions for writing your master’s thesis.
WRITING FOR PUBLICATION
WRITING A PROPOSAL
Book Proposals (Purdue OWL) Includes guidelines, pre-writing strategies, and tips to make your proposal stand out.
Planning and Organizing Proposals and Technical Reports (Richard Johnson-Sheehan, Purdue OWL) (PDF) An extensive guide to planning for a proposal, from identifying your purpose and audience to drafting your conclusion. This resource includes charts you can fill in while you’re preparing to write. The second half of the PDF (p. 18-end) provides tips for writing a technical report.
Sample Academic Proposals from the Purdue OWL (Purdue OWL) (PDF) Includes sample proposals for conferences, articles, and book chapters.
Sample Conference Proposals (CGU Writing Center) Here “you will find three sample conference proposals: two abstracts for individual papers and one panel proposal. The two individual abstracts differ in length; one is fairly substantial, and the other gives a 250-word description of the writer's argument. The third sample, a proposal for a full panel, provides an overview of the session's overall thrust--what do these papers mean when seen as part of a unit?”
Submitting the Conference Proposal (Purdue OWL) Tips for formatting, saving, and sending a conference proposal.
Things to Remember When Writing Your Conference Proposal Abstract (University of Notre Dame Writing Center) (PDF) A handout that discusses the most important components of a conference proposal.
Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books (Purdue OWL) A guide to writing conference proposals.
Writing the Academic Conference Proposal (Jennifer Sano-Franchini, GradHacker) An article about writing an effective conference proposal by considering your audience, discipline, and conference theme. It also includes examples of how to articulate the ways your research challenges, complicates, or takes a different approach to existing work in the field.
PREPARING YOUR MANUSCRIPT FOR PUBLICATION
4 Editing & Proofreading Techniques for Your Novel (Courtney Carpenter, Writer’s Digest) “Joseph Bates, author of The Nighttime Novelist, shares tips for editing and proofreading a novel or book.”
The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter (Brian A. Klems, Writer’s Digest) “While query letters vary a little depending on who the agent is (and their guidelines) and what type of book you’re writing (novel, nonfiction, poetry, etc.), there are many elements that remain the same. That’s why I’ve developed this list of dos and don’ts to help you navigate what’s really important to include in your pitch and, also, what should be avoided at all costs. By sticking to these 10 specific dos and don’ts of writing a query letter, you’ll give yourself the best opportunity to find success and land an agent.”
10 Proofreading Tips for Self-Publishers (Anna Lewis, PBS) “No matter how many times you’ve read through your work, it’s amazing how often errors can sneak through to the final stages. The problem: You’re so familiar with the text that you see what you think you have written rather than what you actually wrote. For this reason, at the very least, it’s good to ask a few friends to help you proofread. Don’t forget to carefully proofread the cover, copyright, and title pages as well as any indices, tables of contents, and dedications — mistakes in these areas happen surprisingly often. So, short of hiring a professional proofreader, what else can you do to make sure your book is as close to perfect as possible? Here are some tips.”
Anatomy of a Query Letter: A Step-by-Step Guide (Writer’s Relief Staff, Huffington Post) “When submitting book queries, your letter has precious little time to grab the attention of the literary agent reading it. If you don’t get to the meat of the book right away, your query might end up in the recycling bin. The following guidelines will help you compose a letter that will keep agents’ attention long enough to give your manuscript a fighting chance.”
Author’s Permission Guidelines (The University of Chicago Press) Most of the information regarding permissions on this site is not particular to The University of Chicago Press. This page can help any writer who wants to know more about copyright, fair use, public domain, and when permission is needed for previously published materials.
From Manuscript to Printed Page: How to Get Published (Betsy Lampe, Rainbow Books Inc.) (PDF) This handout describes the different types of publishers and offers tips for writers looking to submit their work.
How to Write the Perfect Query Letter (Brian Klems, Writer’s Digest) Here you’ll find an example of a successful query letter, followed by an agent’s comments.
Preparing Articles for Publication in Peer-Reviewed Journals (Siobhan Bowler, American College of Preventative Medicine) (PDF) “This paper focuses on preparing articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Four areas of article preparation are covered: (1) what you should be thinking about when selecting a journal for your paper and at what stage you should start thinking of journals; (2) style guides and the most important things you need to follow in journal style guides; (3) simple ways in which you can improve clarity when writing papers; [and] (4) what happens to your paper once you send it to the journal and the various types of responses you can expect to receive.”
Preparing Manuscripts for Publication in Psychology Journals: A Guide for New Authors (APA) (PDF) “This guide provides an overview of the process of preparing and submitting a scholarly manuscript for publication in a psychology journal. Drawing on the experiences of authors of scholarly writings, peer reviewers, and journal editors, we seek to demystify the publication process and to offer advice designed to improve a manuscript’s prospects of publication. To exemplify the process, we describe specific publication procedures for journals of the American Psychological Association.”
WRITING AN ABSTRACT
Abstracts (UNC at Chapel Hill, The Writing Center) “This handout provides definitions and examples of the two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. It also provides guidelines for constructing an abstract and general tips for you to keep in mind when drafting. Finally, it includes a few examples of abstracts broken down into their component parts.”
Abstracts (University of Wisconsin – Madison, The Writing Center) Structured as a Q&A, this page addresses the definition, purpose, content, and form of an abstract.
Abstracts: Examples (University of Wisconsin – Madison, The Writing Center) “Here are some very successful sample abstracts from a range of different disciplines written by advanced undergraduate students.”
Writing Abstracts (Indiana University Bloomington, Writing Tutorial Services) This site includes tips for writing and polishing your abstract and describes the components of informative and indicative abstracts.
Writing Report Abstracts (Purdue OWL) “This handout discusses how to write good abstracts for reports. It covers informational and descriptive abstracts and gives pointers for success.”