11 Overview and Intention


The chapters in this module include:

  • Grammar and Punctuation
  • Writing Workplace Documents
  • Revising Workplace Documents
  • Ethical Guidelines for Writing
  • Information Literacy

Module Summary

This module builds on the knowledge of plain language, communication channels, and audience analysis that you may already have or have learned in the Foundations Module. Here you will learn about the importance of writing clearly and with purpose. The focus will be on doing so within workplace contexts where the main challenges are to keep communication concise and not merely succinct; understandable yet professional in tone and language; and in accordance with workplace-related standards and conventions.

You may use common elements of grammar, punctuation, and writing style casually in everyday writing; however, this approach is not necessarily directly transferable to the workplace. Simple mistakes in spelling, sentence structure, and verb tense can alter meaning in communication and can also have a negative outcome for the writer. A review of these common elements with a particular focus on workplace usage is included.

We will examine important steps in writing with purpose, such as formulating a plan, drafting a communication, and the process of reflection and revision. Unlike casual communication, workplace writing is more purposeful. The purpose may be to simply inform recipients, but oftentimes it is to intentionally cause them to take action. To do so, your writing needs to be clear and focused. It also needs to comply with structural norms and be formatted in a professional manner.

This module also examines characteristics that affect the quality of writing and the ability of a writer to communicate effectively, to communicate with authority, and to summarize ideas of others without plagiarizing. Some workplace settings today may favour dispensing with formality and instead shifting to a more relaxed writing style. However, such a shift may not be suitable in all cases, such as in legal, medical, and financial professions. Form, structure, and convention are important, but so too is writing in an ethical and informed way. Procedures and strategies on how to support your writings by integrating or referencing credible, evidence-based, and subject-related information is an important component of this module.

Relevance to Practice

One perception of workplace writing is that it is easy, given the types of tasks associated with it. The nature of workplace writing tasks seems to validate the notion of ease and lack of complexity. Things like memos, emails, letters, and even reports tend to be viewed as being simple and straightforward to create. The repetitive nature of workplace writing may also contribute to this perception.

In a broader context many occupations, other than perhaps in the field of journalism, place good writing skills below job-specific skills in order of importance. This, along with other factors, may contribute to the view by some that good writing is not a top priority when preparing for employment.

Writing in the workplace is more than just the techniques necessary to put together an email or an aesthetically pleasing report. The words, nuances in phrasing, structure, and other key writing characteristics together are the main ingredients of good workplace writing.

High expectations about communication skills in general are top of mind with today’s employers. One of the most important of these skills is the ability to convey meaning accurately and effectively in writing. Other expectations include being able to compose written workplace communication using language that is appropriate and that conforms to professional standards and conventions; and distinguishing the structural elements of workplace documents in order to use them appropriately.

The stakes in responding effectively in writing can also raise challenges in today’s culturally diverse workplaces. Gender, ethnicity, and culture, for example, can be important considerations when writing with purpose or to influence behaviour.

Learning Goals

An overarching theme in this eText is on developing abilities for effective planning, construction, and distribution of common workplace-related documents and publications. Learning goals will guide this development while learning outcomes serve as evidence of achievement. Key developmental attributes related to these learning goals are also listed here.

The aim of this module is to help you develop the knowledge and skills necessary to:

  1. express yourself clearly in written business communication and
  2. prepare effective written communications that conform to professional workplace standards and expectations.

Developmental Attributes

Upon successfully completing this module, you should:

Understand the following:

  • That poor grammar and writing habits can compromise the effectiveness of written communication
  • That standards of writing for the workplace are different than in everyday life
  • That differentiating between relevant and irrelevant information enables writers to develop a comprehensive and useful product
  • That it is important to draw on several sources of information to add validity to writing products

Know the following:

  • Proper punctuation, grammar, and vocabulary to make communication clear
  • Key quality principles of effective workplace writing
  • Layout and style techniques that maximize message impact
  • Research techniques to source and evaluate information

Be able to do the following:

  • Present information and ideas in a way that others can understand
  • Prepare, review, and edit written communication while following rules of grammar and punctuation
  • Write in context to express ideas clearly and concisely
  • Format correspondence appropriately to conform to business standards
  • Summarize information from sources of research

Learning Outcomes for this Module

Upon successfully completing this module, you should be able to:

  1. apply principles of effective writing to produce professional workplace documents;
  2. match the most appropriate styles of workplace correspondence to intended purpose or function, and;
  3. apply rules of compliance and ethics in the development of written products.


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