A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Walking a Fine Line: Writing Negative Letters in an Insurance Company   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This limited case study examines the situated-language practices associated with the production of negative letters in an insurance company. Using genre and sociocultural theories, the study combines textual analyses of a set of negative letters together with writers' accounts of producing these letters to identify effective (as defined by the company) strategies for composing this correspondence. These letters are examples of generic action, and they demonstrate that genres function as constellations of regulated, improvisational strategies triggered by the interaction between individual socialization and an organization. Moreover, these constellations of resources express a particular chronotopic relation to space and time, and this relation is always axiological or value oriented. In other words, genres express space/time relations that reflect current social beliefs regarding the placement and actions of human individuals in space and time. The article identifies some of the strategies that characterize effective negative messages in this organization. It also critiques this text type for enacting a set of practices and related chronotopic orientation that is against the interests of its readers and writers.

Schryer, Catherine F. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2000). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence


Web Writing for Email

Learning about writing for the web has made me a better email communicator and project manager. Email would be much more effective if content was broken out in easy-to-understand sections with a clear guide for next steps at the end.

Johnson, Beth. Brain Traffic (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


What Your Salute Says About You

Dear recent graduates: How you start an email reveals a lot more about your intentions than you know. Common e-greetings for etiquette voodoo.

Beck, Graham T. Morning News, The (2013). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


What's With the Attitude?

When users complain about sites, webmasters frequently respond with hostility, derision, condescension, or just plain silence. No wonder users rarely bother to complain. Bad attitudes stand between the site you created and the site your users want to use.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2001). Design>Web Design>Correspondence>User Centered Design


Where is Email 2.0? And Why is Commercial Email So Boring?

I don't recall the last time I received a commercial email that made me take notice or smile.

Usborne, Nick. Excess Voice (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Why "Best Buddy" Emails Work So Well. Sometimes.

The best buddy approach works within specific product and service sectors, where readers can easily be tripped into a state of dissociation...because they have problems that the writer promises to solve.

Usborne, Nick. Excess Voice (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Why Your E-Mail May Never Arrive After All

Robert Lucky's view of excuses useful for fending off the e-mail deluge may not all belong to what he termed a 'passing, satirical dream' [IEEE Spectrum, January, p. 162]. As he put it, 'When someone asks, 'Did you see my urgent e-mail?' you can't say no, because it obviously got to you.' I have been trying to point out the error in this ever since I began to understand, more or less, the workings of Internet e-mail. Four years of managing corporate e-mail have shown me that the excuses are indeed plausible and do occur in nature.

Li, Ambrose. IEEE Spectrum (2001). Articles>Internet>Correspondence>Email


Write a Strong Close

If the average business letter starts poorly, then it invariably finishes poorly. Your closing paragraph should bring your letter to a polite, businesslike close. Typical final paragraphs in business letters invite the reader to write again or use overused and meaningless phrases that detract from the impact of the letter.

Newman, Judith M. LupinWorks. Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Rhetoric


Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor

There are many reasons to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Whatever your motivation, this article helps you to write a letter that gets published.

Clark, Steve. Carolina Communique (2007). Articles>Writing>Correspondence


Writing Effective E-Mail: Top 10 Tips

This document offers 10 tips to help you write effective professional e-mails. The informal e-mails you exchange with your friends don't have to meet any particular standards, of course, but if you want to be taken seriously by people who use e-mail frequently, you should know e-mail etiquette.

Bauer, Jessica. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (2001). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Writing Effective E-Mail: Top 10 Tips

The informal e-mails you exchange with your friends don't have to meet any particular standards, but if you want to be taken seriously by professionals, you should learn proper e-mail etiquette.

Bauer, Jessica and Dennis G. Jerz. Seton Hill University (2000). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Writing Effective Letters

Always start by putting your main message up front. Some people feel that bad news should be buried. But research shows that readers will always look for the bottom line.

PlainLanguage.gov (1995). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Minimalism



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