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Writing Skills

Based on the presentation of Tom Atkinson, Boazii University, May 6, 2004 Some additions/updates by Dr. Enis Karaarslan, Mula University Computer Engineering Department, March 2013

Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Agenda
1.

Writing an Email
a. b.

Motivation What makes a good email Planning Structure Style

2.

Writing a Report
a. b. c.

Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Email and reports are the most important documents we use today. The main topics will be for these types of reports but the main philosophy is general.

Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Part 1
Writing an Email

Part 1.a
Motivation

Motivation

How many emails in your in-box? How much time do you spend figuring out your next action after reading an email? How long do you spend deciphering (skme, yorumlama) your text books?

Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Example #1
Hey Tom, I can't believe it has been almost 2 weeks since you sent this e-mail. I intend to respond to you each morning, and I am back to getting in by 6:30 or 7:15 most mornings, but ... you know how busy it gets. I want to get the 8 o'clock train tonight, because the next one doesnt leave until 10pm. I am going to see Kemal Wednesday night (he has a short stay in U.S. with regard to visiting Citi bank on-site, the client he his supporting on an offshore project). So I just wanted to ask you if you could be more specific in what you want to know about "offshore" financials. He'll provide me with the info you are interested in. Regards, Angelo

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Example #2
Tom, In order to help you better, please explain in more detail what you mean by offshore financials. Are you looking for financial statements or for salary levels? Regards, Angelo
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Example #3
OK.

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Tom Atkinson

Example #4
Gd 2 hear fm u. The LBJ is OK. Y R U going w/o him? C u soon. M.

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Tom Atkinson

Part 1.b What makes a good email

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.


- Albert Einstein

What makes a good email?


Response within 36 hours To the point short Clear Organized

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Tom Atkinson

Pretend you are the reader and ask:


What is the point? What action am I supposed to take?

If the answers arent immediately obvious (apak), your message may just be ignored!

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Organizing for the readers benefit


The first section summarizes key take aways: Make your point early Request responses up front For long emails:

Write a summary Create headings (balk) for each major section.

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Tom Atkinson

Get to the point #1

Example of a hidden main point

Dear Personnel Director: On March 27, I received a phone call from Mrs. Karen Krane from New York, who was once a data entry clerk in your Ohio office. She was under the direct supervision of.....

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Get to the point #2

The same example rewritten so that the main point is clear.

Dear Personnel Director: Please verify the employment of Mrs. Karen Krane? She was a data entry clerk in your Ohio office (fill in the details)

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Tom Atkinson

Avoid explosions

Do not wait until the end of the day to introduce a problem. Avoid writing a list of concerns (ikayet) that you have been thinking about for a long period of time.

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Avoid explosions

Strongly worded emails can create more conflict (anlamazlk) than intended Angry emails give a negative impression What you say cannot be taken back When possible, call or meet in person instead
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Use active and passive voice appropriately

Active places blame (sulamak): You are past due on your registration payment. Passive is less confrontational (atmac): Your registration payment is past due.

Source: Purdue University


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Proofread! (dzeltme)
Re-read to ensure:

Accuracy, grammar, spelling Message clearly delivered

Rewrite or reorganize if necessary!

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Tom Atkinson

Finally: Take the 20-second test

After a 20 second scan, what stands out most? Did your main idea come through? Will the reader know what action to take?

Source: Purdue University


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Tom Atkinson

When requesting help by email, etc ...


They dont have to answer (Re)search before asking Minimize their effort Be polite Ask in their proficiency (Ferruh Mavituna, Nasl soru sorulur ve cevap alnr)

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Tom Atkinson

Recommended reading (in Turkish)

Bilgi kayna: insan Nasl soru sorulur ve cevap alnr? http://enisden.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/bil gi-kaynagi-insan-nasil-soru-sorulur-vecevap-alinir/

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Tom Atkinson

Part 2 Writing a Report

Report writing topics


3.a Planning 3.b Structure 3.c Style

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Tom Atkinson

Part 2.a Planning

What is a Report?

A structured written presentation which gives:


A response to specific request An account (muhasebesi) of something An answer to a question A solution to a problem

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Tom Atkinson

The report-writing process


1. 2. 3. 4.

5.

Identify your audience Define your purpose Collect your ideas Select the material and decide how to show the significance of your facts Structure your ideas

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Tom Atkinson

1. Identify your audience

Who is your audience?

Professor Manager Client Colleagues Write more persuasively (inandrc) Know their expectations Organize your message to address their needs
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Helps decide level and purpose

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The Audience: your professor

What will your professor be looking for?


Coherent (tutarl), cohesive (bal) organization Clearly articulated (balantl) ideas Detailed research Compelling (ilgi uyandrc, dikkat ekici) arguments to support thesis

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2. Define your purpose (ama)

What is the purpose of the report?


What are you trying to prove? What question are you answering? What problem are you solving? What process or experiment are you describing?

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Collect your ideas

Collecting is:
Taking notes Doing research Performing experiments

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Select the material

Selecting is:

Ensuring each idea supports your main objective (ama) Deciding if the information relevant (ilgili), or just something you happen to know on the subject?

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Structure your ideas

Structuring is:

Organizing into logical blocks Creating a logical flow Enhancing clarity through charts or graphs Deciding which data should be moved to appendices

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Part 2.b Structure

Critical success factor for life


The majority of your perceived (sezilen) ability comes from how you communicate

30% What you know

70% How you communicate it


Source: CGAP Direct
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What makes a report effective

An effective report is:


appropriate to its purpose and audience accurate logical clear and concise (az ve z) well organized with clear section headings

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Report Format
1.

2.
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Title page Table of contents Abstract/Executive Summary Introduction Discussion Conclusions Recommendations Bibliography Attachments / Exhibits
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1. Title Page
Title
Author's name (position and qualifications)
Place of origin Date
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2. Table of contents

Number pages starting with the Introduction Abstract usually numbered with lower case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.)

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2. Table of contents
Table of Contents Table of Contents Abstract 1. Introduction 2. Discussion 2.1 Subjects 2.2 Apparatus 2.3 Procedures 3. Conclusion 4. Recommendations 5. Bibliography 5.1 Internet Sources 6. Attachments Exhibit A Exhibit B Exhibit C
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iii iv 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 6 7 8 9 9
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3. Abstract/Executive Summary

Concise summary of the essential elements of the report


Purpose Scope Achievements Main points Conclusions Recommendations

Independent (can be read on its own) Comprehensive (covers all the main points) Clear and concise Short, only 10-15% of the length of the report Written in full sentences and paragraphs
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4. Introduction

States purpose, assumptions, scope, approach, intended audience, possible benefits Defines special terms Explains why the report is necessary Gives motivation for writing the report

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5. Discussion

Main body of the report Headings clearly identify the content


E.g. WebServices in the Financial Sector Should NOT be entitled Discussion Theoretical basis of research Analysis of data and findings Charts and Graphs Evaluation of the methods used

May include:

Structure should reflect the analysis and objective


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5. Discussion

Presented in an order that leads logically towards the conclusions and recommendations.

Chronological based on your research Past, current, future technologies Problem, solution 1, solution 2, solution 3 Simple Complex

State how it is organized up front

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Any volunteers?

Tell me about your project and how it is structured

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6. Conclusions

Drawn from evidence, analysis, interpretation and evaluation presented in the discussion No new material introduced Follows logically from the Discussion Conclusions section should give:

Key points Main findings NOT another Executive Summary

Overview of the research, where you've reached, and where further investigation might be warranted
Tom Atkinson

Boaz University

7. Recommendations

Suggestions for possible actions based on the research Applications of your research in industry Recommendations to scientific or business community Possible improvements to your research Areas for further research

be definite (kesin) be perceptive (anlayl) be imaginative (yaratc) be rational (makul)


Tom Atkinson

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8. Bibliography

The bibliography lists all publications either cited or referred to in preparing the report Give full details of all publications and web pages either cited or used for background research while preparing the report. R. Resnick, D. Halliday and K.S. Krane, (1992), Physics 4th ed. (Wiley: New York) p. 55. J.P. Gordon, H.J. Zeiger and C.H. Townes, "The maser new type of microwave amplifier, frequency standard, and spectrometer", Phys. Rev. 18, 1264-1274 (1955). Sigma Pro Inc, http://www.sigmaprotraining.com/outsourcing.htm

e.g.
1. 2.

3.

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Attention Citation

Cite the work you have benefited from. Avoid plagiarism (intihal)

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Tom Atkinson

Recommended Reading (Turkish)


ntihal/arma tespit ve engelleme nerileri http://enisden.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/intihal asirma-tespit-ve-engelleme-onerileri/

Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Cite like ...

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. (Albert Einstein) [5] Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) [1], has provided interdomain routing services for the Internets disparate component networks since the late 1980s [2].
Tom Atkinson

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9. Attachments / Exhibits

Includes detailed data or information that would affect the coherent flow of the report For example

a long derivation of an equation a listing of a computer program written to assist in analysis of data Supporting, yet not essential, data: companies, addresses, pages of findings

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Tom Atkinson

Report Format (again)


1.

2.
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Title page Table of contents Abstract/Executive Summary Introduction Discussion Conclusions Recommendations Bibliography Attachments / Exhibits
Tom Atkinson

Boaz University

Part 2.c Style

Effective whitespace

Blank line between paragraphs Bullet points where appropriate Not right-justified

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Tom Atkinson

Effective whitespace
2. Method
Describes the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections: Subjects Apparatus Research Instruments/Tools Procedures. Method section continues on the same page after the end of the Introduction. Describes the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections:

2.1 Subjects
This sub-section is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections.

2.2 Apparatus
This sub-section is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section.

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Tom Atkinson

Ineffective whitespace
Describes the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections: Method section continues on the same page after the end of the Introduction. Describes the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections: This sub-section is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. This subsection is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section. ethod section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. This sub-section is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section. ethod section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. This sub-section is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section. detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section. ethod section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. This sub-section is optional. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section is often divided into three subsections. the study in enough detail to permit another investigator to replicate it. The Method section.

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Tom Atkinson

Easy to read

Clear, concise language Short sentences Correct grammar and spelling Pitch at appropriate level: not everyone knows what you know (seviyeyi ayarla) Concrete (somut) examples that support, not distract

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Tom Atkinson

Keep it simple

An example using impressive words:

An example using simple words:

Subsequent to the passage of the subject legislation, it is incumbent upon you to advise your organization to comply with it.
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After the law passes, you must tell your people to comply with it.

Tom Atkinson

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.


- Albert Einstein

Coherent (tutarl)

Obvious signposts guide your reader through the report Follow a logical sequence

Chronological based on your research Past, current, future technologies Problem, solution 1, solution 2, solution 3 Simple Complex

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Tom Atkinson

Cohesive (bal)

Every sentence supports your objective Topic sentences introduce a paragraphs main idea:

There are three main reasons why CORBA technology is used in web application development The advent of the Internet provided new ways for people to communicate which has caused a revolution in the fields of sociology and anthropology.
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Effective paragraphs
Place information where it will be seen: First and last paragraphs First and last sentences Keep paragraphs simple: Short paragraphs are more likely to be read Each paragraph should contain one main point
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Passive (edilgen) sentences

Rare occasion where passive style is preferred

Not good: "You cannot import those goods from Africa." Good : "Those goods cannot be imported from Africa."
We will discuss the economic consequences of the reunification of Germany. Solving this problem is difficult if you are renovating the office. People considered him one of the best designers.

Fix these sentences:

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Consistent, obvious headings


Use Microsoft Word Style function Automatically insert Table of Contents using TOC field - example

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Templates from the Web

In Microsoft Word

Select File, New Click on the templates under the title Templates on Microsoft office online

Title of Term Paper

Your Name Course Number Date

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Tom Atkinson

Templates from the Web

Take what is given and customize to match your style This IS NOT SUFFICIENT for your purposes. It must be customized.

Outline Title
Your name Date Table of Contents inserted by Tom Atkinson I. Create an outline numbered list ....................................................................................... 2 A. Definition: An outline numbered list is a list created to apply a hierarchical structure to any list or document..................................................................................... 2 1. A document can have up to nine levels. ............................................................. 2 2. Microsoft Word does not apply built-in heading styles to the items in the list. . 2 B. Procedure ................................................................................................................ 2 1. On the Format menu ........................................................................................... 2 a) click Bullets and Numbering .......................................................................... 2 b) click the Outline Numbered tab. ..................................................................... 2 2. Click a list format that does not contain the text "Heading",.............................. 2 3. Click OK. ............................................................................................................ 2 (a) The first number of the list is displayed in the document................... 2 4. Type the list text, pressing ENTER after each item............................................ 2 (a) Subsequent numbers are automatically inserted at the beginning of each line at the same numbering level. ........................................................... 2 II. Working with outline numbered text ............................................................................. 2 A. Move an outline numbered item to the appropriate numbering level ..................... 2 1. On the Formatting toolbar:.................................................................................. 2 a) To demote the item to a lower numbering level ............................................. 2 (1) click a list number................................................................................... 2 (2) click Increase Indent. .............................................................................. 2 b) To promote the item to a higher numbering level........................................... 3 (1) click a list number................................................................................... 3 (2) click Decrease Indent.............................................................................. 3 III. Other ways of working with outlines............................................................................ 3 A. Create a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation from a Word outline......................... 3 1. About creating a PowerPoint presentation from a Word Outline ....................... 3 a) PowerPoint uses the heading styles in your Word document ......................... 3 (1) Heading styles are applied when you use numbered outlines................. 3 (2) Heading styles are already turned on for you in this template................ 3 (3) For example, each paragraph formatted with the Heading 1 style becomes the title of a new slide, each Heading 2 becomes the first level of text, and so on. ............................................................................................................ 3 2. Procedure ............................................................................................................ 3 a) Open the document you want to use to create a PowerPoint presentation. .... 3 b) On the File menu, point to Send To, and then click Microsoft PowerPoint. .. 3

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Spread the load


Not all of your ideas will come at once Spend time noting initial ideas and set the document aside When you come back to it later, you will find that your ideas have gelled and that you can see the way ahead more clearly.

Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Repeat: your professor is the audience


I am suggesting that your professor grade as follows:

Coherent, cohesive organization 33 %


Use of standard report structure Ideas appropriately placed in each section

Clearly articulated ideas 33 %

Use of topic sentences Simple syntax and correct grammar Correct use of bullets, whitespace Charts and graphs
Thesis pushes boundaries of what was learned in classroom Research from a variety of sources (web, interviews, original ideas) Compelling arguments to support thesis

Quality and depth of research 33 %


Boaz University

Tom Atkinson

Recommended Reading (in Turkish)


neriler: Rapor Yazarken Dikkat Edilmesi Gerekenler http://enisden.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/onerile r-rapor-yazarken-dikkat-edilmesi-gerekenler/ Sunum Teknikleri Dikkat Edilmesi Gerekenler http://enisden.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/sunum -teknikleri-dikkat-edilmesi-gerekenler/

Boaz University
Tom Atkinson

Questions?

Feedback

Give an assessment of todays session What did you like most and least? Assess (deerlendir) the verbal presentation? Assess the slides? How useful do you think this topic will be for future classes and your life?

enis.karaarslan@mu.edu.tr
Boaz University
Tom Atkinson