professional writing skills a self-paced training program and professional writing skills for the workplace
Participant Training Manual
Comprehensive Public Training Program
PROFESSIONAL WRITING SKILLS
In this 1-day class, participants will learn to write in a clear, concise style. Through lecture,
examples, and practice exercises, participants will gain confidence in their ability to plan and
to produce various forms of professional writing. Participants will learn how to identify and to
correct their own grammar and usage problems. Strategies to revise and to proofread work will
also be presented.
Write clear, concise, and action-oriented communication
Adjust language, style, and level of written communication to fit the purpose and audience
Maintain a professional and confident tone in written communication
Use resources to help identify and correct grammar and usage problems
WHAT: Personal Writing Inventory
1. Identify items that frustrate you in other people’s written communication.
2. Identify items that you find challenging when writing.
3. Discuss your answers.
4. Be prepared to share with the class.
10 GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONAL WRITING
STOP THE FRUSTRATION
Many of the writing problems found in the workplace out can be avoided if you follow 10
simple guidelines for professional writing. These are not in order of importance; they are in
order of how they generally occur within the writing process.
1 — YOU ARE YOUR WRITING.
2 — YOU HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES.
3 — KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
4 — THINK IT THROUGH.
5 — EMBRACE COLLABORATION.
6 — WRITE FOR UNDERSTANDING.
7 — CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR.
8 — WATCH YOUR TONE.
9 — CLARITY COUNTS.
10 — CLEAN IT UP.
WRITING APPREHENSION TEST
WHAT: Writing Apprehension Test
1. Read each item and put a check mark in the box that describes your attitude.
2. Score your test by adding all of the points in each column and then adding the columns together.
Strongly Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly
1 2 3 4 5
I avoid writing.
My mind seems to go blank when I start to write.
Expressing ideas through writing seems to be a waste
I am nervous about writing.
I never seem to be able to clearly write down my
I don’t think I write as well as most other people do.
I don’t like my writing to be evaluated.
I am no good at writing.
Add Rows for Final Score
Adapted from Daly, J. A., & Miller, M. D. (2013). Writing Apprehension Test (WAT). Measurement Instrument Database for the Social
Science. Retrieved from www.midss.ie
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS A WRITER
You have 3 primary responsibilities as a professional writer; these three responsibilities should
be in the forefront of your mind during different stages of the writing process, especially when
you are reviewing your work.
DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
3 PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES
Yourself Your Agency
Prove the value of your document
PROVING THE VALUE
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Professional business writing is often used to influence someone’s thoughts or ideas. In order
to do this, you must adjust your content, language, tone, examples, and organization to
meet the needs of your audience.
WHAT: Geographical Identity and Language
HOW: SMALL GROUP
1. List words, phrases, ideas, etc. that are unique to Louisiana.
2. Be prepared to share with the class.
DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Who is the reader? How familiar with the topic is this
How much interaction do I have with
the reader? How does this person feel about the
Is the reader expecting this?
How much time does the reader
What are the principal concerns and
have to devote to this?
responsibilities of the reader?
What are my reader’s
Is this issue important to him/her?
THINK IT THROUGH
As a professional writer, the most reckless thing you can do is write based on emotions, rather than purpose. Learning to
check your emotions and write with your purpose in mind is another step towards becoming an effective writer. It is also
important to take some time to think about what you need to write, why you need to write it, and how you are going to
What am I feeling?
What do I want to
What may happen
if I send this?
Check your Do:
How should I write
Determine your this?
Be willing to
Create a plan for
accept the worst-
COLLABORATIVE WRITING ACTIVITY
Writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is a common type of technical writing in the
workplace. For an SOP to be effective, it must be written so anyone, regardless of experience,
can follow it. This means it must be very clear, as well as concise yet detailed.
WHAT: SOP Collaboration
HOW: SMALL GROUP
As a group, write clear and concise directions for how to assemble your item (approx. 30
COLLABORATIVE WRITING ACTIVITY— CONTINUED
WATCH YOUR TONE
Revising for Tone
Tone is the emotion embedded in your words. It conveys your attitude toward the reader and
the topic. In writing, tone is conveyed primarily through word choice. Be mindful of your word
choice. The words you choose show your level of professionalism and confidence.
MAINTAINING A PROFESSIONAL TONE
SLANG COLLOQUIALISMS CLICHÉS
Y’all Bull or BS Kind of / Hit a road- Do more with less
You Cheesy Sort of block Break down the silos.
know? Luck out A lot of Slip away Throw him under the bus.
OK or Cool A couple A big deal It is what it is.
okay Guesstimate A little bit Wrapping Take it to the next level.
My bad Flaky Throws me up Bite the bullet.
Awesome Goofy off Guess what Run it up the flagpole.
Hang out Lame Not really Way more Think outside the box.
Chill out Grubby all that bad Look out for If push comes to shove…
Geek Grungy Fall through Pass up To be honest…
Epic fail Do-over the cracks Threw me With all due respect…
Dunno Mickey- Beat for a loop Touch base…
Gonna mouse around the Spot on In the pipeline…
Wanna Folks bush Slip away Raise the bar…
Rip off Sucks No clue Fixing to Get our ducks in a row…
Neat Nuts Fly through In a jam Wrap our heads around…
Stupid Crazy Make Pumped up It’s a win-win.
Wow No way waves Way too Step up to the plate...
MAINTAINING A CONFIDENT TONE
EXPRESSIONS SHOWING DOUBT ABSOLUTES
I believe All Must
I think Always Never
I guess Every Nobody
Maybe Everybody No one
In my opinion Everyone None
Could be Forever Only
Revising for Clarity and Conciseness
Message clarity is determined, in part, by the conciseness of the writer’s message. Writers often
“over-write” or elevate their prose in an attempt to sound professional. This highly formal style
can actually reduce understanding. Say what you need to say without adding unnecessary
Absolutely certain Fall down Past experience
Actual fact Fellow coworker Pick and choose
Add an additional Final outcome PIN number
Added bonus First of all Plan ahead
Advance forward Foreign imports Possibly might
Advance reservations Free gift Postpone until later
Advance warning Future plans Proceed ahead
Alternative choice Joint collaboration Reason why
And etc. Largest ever Refer back
Anonymous stranger LCD display Repeat again
Ask the question Local residents Revert back
At the present time Major breakthrough Rise up
Basic essentials May possibly Safe haven
Filled to capacity Meet together Same exact
Circulate around Merge together Same identical
Collaborate together Mix together Serious danger
Completely finished Mutual cooperation Spell out in detail
Definite decision Mutually dependent Still remains
Depreciate in value Native habitat Therapeutic treatment
Difficult dilemma Natural instinct Tiny bit
Direct confrontation Never before Total destruction
Each and every New beginning True facts
Eliminate altogether New invention Ultimate goal
End result New recruit Unexpected surprise
Enter in None at all Usual custom
Estimated roughly Off of Warn in advance
Exact same Old adage Written down
Remove qualifiers such as:
Very Little Somewhat
Pretty Just Rather
CLARITY COUNTS — CONTINUED
REPLACING OVER-WRITTEN PHRASES WITH BASIC WORDS
Due to the fact that Since
Owing to the fact that Because
On the grounds that Why
This is why
The reason for
Despite the fact that Although
Regardless of the fact that Even
Notwithstanding the fact that Though
In the event that If
If it should transpire
Under the circumstances which
Has the opportunity to Can
Is able to
Is in a position to
Has the capacity for
Has the ability to
In reference to About
In regards to
Concerning the matter of
Where ______ is concerned
It is crucial that Must
It is necessary that Should
It is important that
Cannot be avoided
Prior to Before
In anticipation of After
Subsequent to As
At the same time as
Revising for Clarity and Conciseness
Directions: As a group, revise each statement for clarity and conciseness.
WORDY VERSION CONCISE VERSION
The website has made available many of the
things you need to know in order to make a
decision about what car to buy.
Working under Joe as a mentor who helped me
develop skills was a very effective working
At this time, we find ourselves advancing upward
along the proverbial tributary without the proper
means of locomotion.
If you find yourself avoiding utilization of a
specific skills set, you are in distinct danger of the
possibility of finding that skill atrophied beyond the
possibility of future usage.
After booking a ticket to Baton Rouge, I packed
up my bags and arranged for transportation by
taxi to the airport. Once there, I checked in, went
through security, and boarded the plane. But
problems beyond my control led to a three-hour
delay before the flight took off.
Our department has five employees. They do an
excellent job Monday through Thursday, but
Fridays are a heavier workload and they are
unable to keep up with the rush of activity on that
day and thus find themselves falling behind.
It is imperative that we make a decision on this
During the time of year from January 1 to March
31, a majority of the people who bought cars
decided on buying blue cars that had a shiny
what: Instructor and Course Evaluation
How: Applying the guidelines covered in today’s class, write an evaluation of the instructor and the course.
NAME: P: AGENCY:
EMAIL: DATE: LOCATION:
FINAL ASSESSMENT—PAGE 2
NAME: P: AGENCY: