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#TuesdayTutorial: Citing Your Sources

#TuesdayTutorial: Citing Your Sources published on 13 Comments on #TuesdayTutorial: Citing Your Sources

You need to provide in-text citations and bibliographic citations in your Genre Analysis Report, so this week’s #TuesdayTutorial reviews How to identify and credit sources (6m 32s).

Screenshot of Lynda.com session, How to identify and credit sources

In your Genre Analysis Report, you can use whatever bibliographical format you are most familiar with. Here are some tools if you are unsure how to make correct citations:

You can also watch the Lynda.com information on Citing Sources in research papers for more specific examples of citations.

 

Note: This video has closed captioning, so it does not need a transcript.


 

Finishing & Submitting Your Genre Analysis Report

Finishing & Submitting Your Genre Analysis Report published on

This is the post for the week of December 4, 2017.

Calendar for the Rest of the Term

All submissions due by 11:59 PM.

Date What’s Going On?
12/04 Grace period for 12/08 Labor Log ends
12/05 Feedback on Genre Analysis Report drafts due to group members
12/08 12/08 Labor Log due
12/08 Genre Analysis Report due
12/11 Grace period for 12/08 Labor Log ends
12/13 Grace period for Genre Analysis Report ends
12/14 SPOT Responses due
12/18 Final Exam due (no grace period)

Readings for the Week

Review the readings about formal reports, as they apply to your Genre Analysis Report. There are chapters and Lynda.com videos all listed in Step 2 of the assignment.

Tasks for the Week

  1. By 11:59PM on Monday, December 4, submit your 12/01 Labor Log in Canvas, if you are using the grace period.
  2. Check your work on your Genre Analysis Report carefully. Since there is little time left in the term, you need to be sure that your project does not need revision. In particular, consider the following:
    1. Review the rubric, which is on the assignment page in Canvas.
    2. Ensure you include all the required sections and information, listed in Step 4 of the assignment.
    3. Use document design to organize the information:
    4. Include documentation of the sources used (see how to create Citations & Bibliographies in MSWord).
    5. Spellcheck and proofread your work.
  3. Finish work on your Genre Analysis Report:
    1. Tue, Dec 5 by 11:59PM: Post feedback on the drafts posted by your group members in the Group Feedback on Genre Analysis Report Discussion in Canvas.
    2. Fri, Dec 8 by 11:59PM: Submit your project in the Genre Analysis Report assignment in Canvas.
    3. Wed, Dec 13 by 11:59PM: Submit your project in the Genre Analysis Report assignment in Canvas if you are using the grace period.
  4. If you find yourself ahead of schedule, begin work on your final exam.
  5. By 11:59PM on Friday, December 8, write your 12/08 Labor Log in Canvas. Specific questions for your log are included in Canvas. The grace period for your log entry ends at 11:59 PM on Monday, December 11.

 


 

#WeekendWatch: Characteristics of Memos

#WeekendWatch: Characteristics of Memos published on 12 Comments on #WeekendWatch: Characteristics of Memos

Lynda.com Login Help

Lynda.com videos are free to Virginia Tech students with your VT.EDU login. Start at the VT.EDU login page to access these resources.

When you are not writing letters or email messages, you will often find yourself writing memos. Today’s #WeekendWatch reviews the characteristics of memos, which are typically internal messages sent to colleagues within your organization.

Like all correspondence, memos should be clear and well-organized with document design features that help readers find the information that is important to them. You can use headings, bulleted lists, and numbered lists to make details stand out.

In addition to general memos, you may find that you use specific memos in the workplace. For instance, you might use a memorandum of understanding (MoU) as a kind of contract, where you and other parties agree to specific terms. MoUs are often created by a lawyer or the organization’s legal department. If you write such a memo yourself, it will probably need to go through a legal review before it is sent to the recipient.

For details on the basic memos you are likely to write, watch the Lynda.com video Special Considerations for Memos (3m52s) to learn more:

Special Considerations for Memos, on Lynda.com

 

Note: This video has closed captioning, so it does not need a transcript.


 

#FridayFact: Nobody Likes Receiving or Giving Bad News

#FridayFact: Nobody Likes Receiving or Giving Bad News published on 18 Comments on #FridayFact: Nobody Likes Receiving or Giving Bad News
letter Bletter Aletter D

Most people don’t want to receive bad news. Likewise, unless we’re talking about the Wicked Witch of the West, Voldemort, or Darth Vader, most people are uncomfortable when they have to give someone bad news. Continuing our focus on correspondence this week, today’s #FridayFact explains how to write a bad new message that gets the point across without alienating the reader.

Typically, bad news messages begin with some kind of “buffer” that cushions the negative information. This indirect approach allows you to break the news gently to your reader. There are times, however, when a more direct approach is appropriate, such as in an emergency situation or when the bad news is expected.

How to Organize a Paper: The Indirect Method (for Writing Bad News) includes a chart that outlines when to use an indirect approach to giving your readers bad news and when to use a more direct approach. The chart on the webpage tells you what to include in your message, whether it is direct or indirect. You’ll also find explanations of the information to provide in the different sections of your bad news message.


 

#InfographicInspiration: What Goes Into a Letter

#InfographicInspiration: What Goes Into a Letter published on 23 Comments on #InfographicInspiration: What Goes Into a Letter

This week, the daily posts focus on correspondence in general. You will find posts that apply to letters, memos, and email messages—all of which you write in the workplace. Since none of the course projects focuses on correspondence, these posts will cover this important topic.

Most of the time, the workplace letters you write will be formal letters. You will use letters for things such as job applications, official requests to someone inside or outside your organization, documentation of complaints and reprimands, and recognition of special achievements. Here are some more specific examples that you are likely to see early in your career:

  • cover letters that are part of a job application packet.
  • thank you letters to those who are part of your job search (e.g., interviewers, HR staff, those who write recommendations).
  • recommendation letters for those you work with.
  • cover letters (or transmittal letters) that accompany reports and proposals.

In all these cases, you will want a formal letter. You may occasionally write informal letters in the workplace, but it’s typical for informal correspondence to be handled in email messages. Before considering today’s infographic, watch this short video from Rasmussen College to find out “How to Write a Formal Letter” (3m49s):

Next, from the website The Visual Communication Guy, our #InfographicInspiration provides an annotated explanation of what goes into a letter and how to format letters that you write. Note that the image on this page is minimized; here is the enlarged (and more readable) version.

How To Format a Letter, from The Visual Communication Guy

 

Note: This infographic is explained on the related website, so it does not need a transcript.


 

#WednesdayWrite: Is BRIEF Correspondence Best?

#WednesdayWrite: Is BRIEF Correspondence Best? published on 28 Comments on #WednesdayWrite: Is BRIEF Correspondence Best?

This week, the daily posts focus on correspondence in general. You will find posts that apply to letters, memos, and email messages—all of which you write in the workplace. Since none of the course projects focuses on correspondence, these posts will cover this important topic.

SSN774 Virginia rollout by Marion Doss on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 licenseThe Lifehacker article “Remember ‘BRIEF’ for Efficient Office Communication” outlines a mnemonic for writing correspondence and presentations that include just the right amount of information for the audience and purpose. The idea is explained fully in the book Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack, the founder and CEO of Sheffield Marketing Partners. (The full text of the ebook is available through the Tech library.)

Neolithic, a commenter on the Lifehacker post, argues that another mnemonic, SBAR, is more effective. The SBAR system was developed by U.S. Navy personnel working on nuclear submarines. As explained in Stewart and Hand’s “SBAR, Communication, and Patient Safety: An Integrated Literature Review,” “Employed primarily in high-risk situations of the Navy’s nuclear submarine industry, the SBAR communication tool enabled all users, regardless of the level of command, to communicate via a common structure.”

For your #WednesdayWrite, compare the two mnemonics and explain which would make the better choice for someone in your field. As you examine the two options, think not only about the logistics of how they work but also the details on how they were created (one in marketing and the other by the military).

If you read any of the linked background information, incorporate what you find as well. Further, you can also suggest an alternative system for writing effective correspondence if you have one.

 

Photo credit: SSN774 Virginia rollout by Marion Doss on Flickr, used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license


 

#TuesdayTutorial: Good-News Messages

#TuesdayTutorial: Good-News Messages published on 21 Comments on #TuesdayTutorial: Good-News Messages

This week, the daily posts focus on correspondence in general. You will find posts that apply to letters, memos, and email messages—all of which you write in the workplace. Since none of the course projects focuses on correspondence, these posts will cover this important topic.

Today’s #TuesdayTutorial looks at the kind of correspondence most people enjoy working on: Writing An Effective Good-News Message (1m21s). Good-news messages are usually easy to write. At worst, your reader may be neutral about the information that you are sharing. In many situations, your reader may be pleased or even overjoyed, which makes your job as the writer simpler.

Even though they are easier, good-news messages do require a specific organization. Most importantly, you want to be sure that you don’t bury your good news. Put it right up front!

Watch today’s video to learn about the organization of a good-news message, all in just a bit over one minute:


 

Continuing Work on Genre Analysis Reports

Continuing Work on Genre Analysis Reports published on

This is the post for the week of November 27, 2017.

Welcome back. I hope you all had a pleasant Thanksgiving. We’re down to the last days of the course, so it’s important to stay on track and finish strong. If you run into trouble, be sure to contact me so we can come up with a solution.

Calendar for the Rest of the Term

All submissions due by 11:59 PM.

Date What’s Going On?
11/27 Grace period for 11/17 Labor Log ends
12/01 12/01 Labor Log due
12/01 Draft of Genre Analysis Report due for peer review
12/01 All revisions for all projects due
12/04 Grace period for 12/08 Labor Log ends
12/05 Feedback on Genre Analysis Report drafts due to group members
12/08 12/08 Labor Log due
12/08 Genre Analysis Report due
12/11 Grace period for 12/08 Labor Log ends
12/13 Grace period for Genre Analysis Report ends
12/14 SPOT Responses due
12/18 Final Exam due (no grace period)

Readings for the Week

Since you have your big project to share with your group this week, go back and review any readings that you need and whatever research you have found. You control your readings for this week.

If you have questions about readings, research, or writing, let me know.

Tasks for the Week

Because I want you to have the whole week to work on your Genre Analysis Report, there are no extra tasks this week. Just the essential work.

  1. By 11:59PM on Monday, November 27, submit your 11/17 Labor Log in Canvas, if you are using the grace period.
  2. Finish a draft of your Genre Analysis Report project for peer review:
    1. Fri, Dec 1 by 11:59PM: Post a draft of your report in the Group Feedback on Genre Analysis Report Discussion in Canvas.
    2. Tue, Dec 5 by 11:59PM: Post feedback on the drafts posted by your group members in the Group Feedback on Genre Analysis Report Discussion in Canvas.
  3. By 11:59PM on Friday, December 1, write your 12/01 Labor Log in Canvas. Specific questions for your log are included in Canvas. The grace period for your log entry ends at 11:59 PM on Monday, December 4.

 

Grades on Short Proposals & Progress Reports

Grades on Short Proposals & Progress Reports published on

Typing by Sebastien Wiertz on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 licenseI have graded all the short proposals and progress reports. In this post, I’ll comment on how you all did and what you can do if you are not happy with your grades on the two projects. Please read the information carefully and note the related dates.

Overall Feedback for the Class

Generally, everyone did a great job on the two projects. The topics you chose for your Genre Analysis Reports will work well in most cases, and the status of your work you reported in your Progress Reports indicates you are on target to finish your projects on time.

Feedback on Your Short Proposals

  • Over-reliance on Bullet Lists. The sections of the proposal should be written in paragraphs not in a series of bullet lists. The sections can certainly include lists, there should be more explanation and supporting materials.
  • Focus on Design and Detail in the Timetable/Schedule. The schedule section of this kind of proposal is critical since it demonstrates how the work will proceed and outlines the deliverables and/or milestones. You can use layout and design to emphasize this section and show the relationship among dates. Using a timeline, a Gantt chart, or a calendar layout, for instance, will show readers how the dates and deadlines build upon one another.

Feedback on Progress Reports

  • Pay Attention to Design. Progress reports should make it fast and easy to find the key information. Readers should not have to search around for the details. Be sure that headings indicate the important sections and use other design features to organize the information. Many of you, for instance, included an updated version of the Gantt chart that you used in your proposal—that’s a great strategy!
  • Worries about Time Constraints. Many of you indicated concern about the amount of work left to do on your reports and the ever decreasing number of days in the course. Just keep at it, and do the best you can. If you run into a challenge you’re not sure how to overcome, let me know.

Revision Activities for the Analysis Project

I have reopened the assignments so that those of you who want to revise can improve your projects. Follow the guidelines below to resubmit your work.

  1. If I made a mistake
    Send me an email message or a private message on Slack with the details. I’ll fix it.
  2. If there were problems with the content or design of your project (either one)
    Revise your project to improve your work, adding whatever is missing or tweaking the design. Resubmit your project, and I will regrade your work.
  3. If you did not submit your work at all
    It is too late. Be sure to turn in all the remaining projects if you want to pass the course.
  4. If something else is going on
    Send me an email message or a private message on Slack with the details. I’ll see what I can do to help you.

Revision Dates

To allow me time to grade your work by the end of the term, you must submit your revisions in Canvas by 11:59 PM on Friday, December 1. Revisions will not be accepted beyond this date without a note from a doctor or the Dean of Students.

This date applies for all projects: the professional bio, analysis, short proposal, and progress report. Remember that you cannot submit a revision for a project by the end of the grace period. Revisions are NOT intended to support those who never did the work in the first place.

 

Photo credit: Typing by Sebastien Wiertz on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.


 

#FridayFact: Writing Strong Emails Matters

#FridayFact: Writing Strong Emails Matters published on 17 Comments on #FridayFact: Writing Strong Emails Matters

#FridayFact: Writing Strong Emails MattersEmail is critical to the work of over half of the workers surveyed by the Pew Research Center on Technology’s Impact on Workers. The bar graph on the right shows that 61% of workers said that email was “very important” to their work.

Why is this fact important for technical writing? The better you are at writing emails, the better you are likely to do in the workplace. As more businesses and organizations skip paper-based communication and turn to email, you will find that you spend a great deal of time reading, writing, and responding to email messages in the workplace. With email such an important part of the work that people do, learning the strategies that ensure your messages get read and accomplish their goals is crucial.

To improve your email savvy, consider these tips on writing the subject for your email messages. If you want your email message to be read, you need a subject line that gives readers a short description of the contents in a way that piques their interest in the topic. When a subject line doesn’t, it’s possible that people will just skip on to something else in their inboxes that is interesting or has a clear purpose.

So how do you make sure you have strong subject lines? Here are ten tips (you may have noticed that I have a thing about tens):

  1. Be sure you have a subject line in the first place. Email without a subject grabs no one’s attention.
  2. Think about your audience and purpose. Your subject should summarize your purpose in a way that the audience will understand.
  3. Keep it short, since only the first few words are going to show up in the receiver’s inbox. Stick to 50 characters or less.
  4. Put the most important words at the beginning. If your subject line does get cut off, you want to be sure the words that matter are visible. Additionally, people skimming down their inboxes look at the beginning of the subject, not the ends.
  5. Be specific. “Upcoming Trip” leaves the reader wondering whose trip and to where. “Your Upcoming Trip to NYC” is much clearer.
  6. Avoid all caps. Nobody likes all caps.
  7. Use emoji sparingly. If you aren’t sure that your recipient will know what the emoji means, don’t use it.
  8. Make the subject unique. If that subject could be added to nearly anyone’s message, try again. For instance, “A Question for You” could go on any email that asks the recipient a question. “Question About New Invoice System” tells the recipient exactly what to expect in the message.
  9. Think of your subject line like a headline for a news story. Make it click-worthy (but avoid misleading subjects that seem more like clickbait).
  10. Use title case, capitalizing every important word. Never use all lower-case, since it looks unpolished and less professional.

 

Note: This bar graph needs a text-based transcript. See the Optional Accessibility Transcript Activity for more details.

 


 

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