The Electronic Writing Course:
Using the Electronic Writing Course for StyleWriter Training
StyleWriter is an easy and intuitive software program that doesn't require extensive knowledge about writing to use it. So no training is required. If, however, you feel your staff needs a brush-up course on basic writing, our Electronic Writing Course, which was created specifically for use in government, is the course for you.
The Electronic Writing Course is an intensive, self-directed, computerized program that takes about 20 hours (or about one week in a classroom setting) to complete. And it's an excellent primer for those who are going to be using StyleWriter, as StyleWriter is most effective when all its concepts and editing suggestions are fully understood.
The Electronic Writing Course teaches you everything you need to know to become a good writer and editor. Polish your writing skills at your own pace by working through the ideas, lessons, tips, quizzes, exercises and workshops.
The Course teaches you how to:
- Plan and organize effectively
- Write clearly
- Write concisely
- Write correctly
- Edit thoroughly
The Course teaches professional writing tips and tackles different writing tasks such as letters, reports, regulations, instructions, and e-mails. Based on training tools we designed for US Federal Government employees, the Course teaches you everything you need to know to become a good writer. At only $75 (UK and EC £50 + £8.75 VAT), you can now sign up for a professional writing course to work at your own PC and at your own pace.
We've organized the Course into nine major sections:
- Clear Thinking
- Concise Writing
- Clear Writing
- Correct Writing
- Editing Skills
- Writing Tips
- Writing Tasks
The "Introduction" is the first section. It covers "Welcome to the Course," "Using the Course," "Writing in Plain Language," and "Plain Language Standards." It explains why you should write in clear and concise plain language style. It also explains how you can use StyleWriter to back up the training in the Course and set standards to measure how your writing improves.
This covers learning to write well by thinking through your writing task before you start. It teaches the essential ideas of thinking about your Aim, Audience, Content and Plan.
This concentrates on six poor habits that make writing too wordy. It teaches you to overcome these habits and to learn to write concisely.
- Sentence length
- Passive verbs
- Hidden verbs
- Wordy phrases
- Business Clichés
Remember, StyleWriter shows you where to cut words from your draft. You will soon find you can write concisely so your reader concentrates on your message and does not have to fight through the waffle and padding so common in writing.
Clear Writing Style
This part of the Course teaches you how to write clearly by using simple, everyday words and avoiding jargon and abstract writing.
- Complex words
- Abstract writing
- Abbreviations and acronyms
- Foreign Expressions
- Legal words
- Signpost language
This Section is a crash course in proofreading and correct English usage. It points out the mistakes and pitfalls most often found in writing. By learning what specifically to look for when you read your draft, you'll soon become an expert proofreader.
- Correct spelling
- Correct punctuation
- Correct grammar
- Correct word use
This Section draws together what you have learnt in the previous sections of the Writing Course. You'll work on exercises designed to cut, simplify and correct writing examples. By working through each example, you'll improve your proofreading and editing skills.
This Section contains a host of writing and editing advice. It explains some of the main ways professional editors turn average documents into high-quality ones.
This Section looks at the key drafting and editing techniques to use when writing and editing different documents.
Here are the Writing Course's five Workshops. The Editing Workshops show you how to edit whole documents - turning the theory you have studied on the Course into reality. In each one you can see the original and then work through the style, usage and punctuation changes. We'll have a look at the E-mail Workshop.
Here is a typical e-mail replying to a government official, explaining how to resolve an administrative matter over using some standard forms.
In the Course, you would go through the e-mail by clicking on the Editing Advice Buttons at the bottom of the screen. However, here we'll jump ahead to the before-and-after example of the e-mail after following the editing advice.
Click on the image below to see the before and after example.
Learning to Edit
Example of Editing
As you work your way through the Writing Course and the exercises, your writing and editing skills will improve. Eventually, you will move on to editing dozens of writing faults in the Editing Skills Section of the Course.
Here's an example of editing a 64-word paragraph. The first redraft cuts the text to 29 words. The second redraft produces a final draft of 18 words. You learn this skill by going through the Editing Exercises at the end of this Section. Let's take a look at one.
Trying an Exercise
Here is Exercise 2 for us to try. Having read the sentence, you would type your suggested redraft in the yellow box, editing the words and phrases shown in bold.
Following the Editing Advice
When you have drafted your answer in the yellow box, you can go through the exercise by clicking the Editing Advice buttons. These suggested changes and explanations show how each change improves the draft.
Click on the image below to see how the Editing Advice works
Using the Electronic Writing Course
There's a wealth of material in the Course. We recommend you go through a section - taking between one and two hours each - and then take a break. Most people can finish the Course in about 20 hours - although to teach the material in a classroom would take about a week.
After four years working with plain English, I was surprised by the many new ideas and techniques the Electronic Writing Course taught me. It's like sitting down one to one with a professional writer and getting instant feedback. That packs a lot of learning power into a short time.
Tony Britten, Environmental Protection Agency
Click here to find out about ordering the Electronic Writing Course and/or StyleWriter Software.