August 2010  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Brand New!
Write for Business 2nd Edition

This new edition of our award-winning business-writing and communication resource contains

  • Over 50 concrete strategies to improve business writing.
  • An updated and expanded Proofreader’s Guide.
  • New chapters on social media, job searching, and creating management forms.
  • Extra help for English language learners.

Clear, helpful guidelines cover each form of business writing, with instructions for prewriting, drafting, revising, and refining.

Real-world models illustrate each document’s three-part structure, with side-note tips for quick reference.

End-of-chapter checklists review the details of each type of business writing.

As an eTips subscriber, you can receive a 10% discount on your entire purchase until 8/30/2010. Visit or call 1-800-261-0637 and use discount code acteuwp.

Writing the Letter of Reference

The letter of reference or recommendation plays an important role in obtaining a job or a promotion. Writing such a letter is not a task to be taken lightly. Here are a few tips for developing a positive, effective letter.

  • Create a clear opening paragraph. Explain your position and establish your relationship with the applicant, telling why you are qualified to comment on his or her qualifications. Tell how long and in what capacity you have known the applicant—whether you are a co-worker, supervisor, or personal friend. This will establish the strength and validity of your recommendation.
  • Use the body of the letter to clearly state your assessment points. Consider the job being applied for, and tailor your reference to those requirements. Give specific, relevant strengths you have observed in the applicant, and provide specific instances when those strengths were demonstrated.
  • Close on a positive, professional note. Restate your main points and provide your contact information for any necessary follow-up.

If you have any reservations about the applicant’s abilities, you can still provide a useful letter by coupling any noted weaknesses with positive observations. If you are confident the person can address the weaknesses, say so.

Perhaps most important, if you feel you cannot truthfully provide a positive recommendation, be honest with the person requesting it, and explain why you would not feel comfortable writing such a letter. A halfhearted letter would do the applicant no good, and it may even call your own judgment into question.

For solid help in writing letters and other business correspondence, check out the information in Business and Sales Correspondence, just one of the handy business-writing materials from UpWrite Press.

New Feature

Beginning this month, we are adding a "Teaching Tips" feature for those of you who—besides being business writers—are also business-writing instructors. If you have any particular requests or suggestions for "Teaching Tips," please e-mail us at And as always, if you have other questions, concerns, suggestions, or comments about eTips or any writing topics, we would love to hear from you. Don't be shy!

Teaching Tips

Studies of the brain indicate that information is best digested in bite-sized portions. This means that when you plan a training session, you should give your audience regular change-ups to assure their focused attention. Brain-based studies suggest keeping lectures to 20-minute segments, followed by a brief quiz, game, or related activity. Try to break up presentations with physical activities or mental exercises. Some effective techniques may include a writing exercise, a discussion, or a partner activity. After one of these, your audience will be ready for another lecture segment.

For example, let’s say you need to present some new safety rules to be implemented at work. You could start with a brief explanation of the changes, then provide a brief quiz, and end with a group activity to reinforce your information.

Of course, all activities should relate to the information presented. This will not only keep your audience focused but also re-set their brains for the information to come, assuring better concentration and retention.

That Little Extra

Have you gotten into the “swim” of social networking? Many professionals have discovered Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and even Twitter as powerful tools for marketing and professional advancement. If you haven’t joined the pool party yet, maybe it’s because the plethora of online networking seems overwhelming. Don’t be afraid. Just pick one to begin, and investigate how it might work for you and your business. The Web has plenty of how-to articles and “webinars” available for the beginner, and even your local library or community continuing-education department might have presentations on the subject. Sometimes classes are offered at a local high school or community college. Social networking is a phenomenon that is rapidly becoming a professional fast track. Find one by typing “social network” into any search engine, and jump right in.


August Writers' Forum Topic

Here's your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we'll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

More and more people are working at least part-time at a home-based business. If you are one of them, how do you keep your home office separate from everyday living, both physically and mentally? Share your best tip, or tell about a problem you encountered and how you solved it.

E-mail your response to Write "August Writers' Forum" in the subject line, and you could see your reply in The eTips Mid-Month Mini.

We Want to Hear from You

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or The Mid-Month Mini.

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Write for Business Blog

Entries for the month of July:

Staff Articles

Using the Right Word

Avoiding Sentence Errors

Understanding Grammar: Parts of Speech


Visit our blog for these and other great articles!

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Featured Product

Our newest book, Write for Work, is a practical guide to writing and communicating in the workplace. It's designed for students in 1- and 2-year degree programs or school-to-work programs. This flexible work-text provides extra support for students who've struggled with writing in the past.


eTips is like finding a writing coach in your inbox. It includes the best writing information, helpful tips and advice, plus updates on evolving communication practices. Sign up today!

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Coming in September

Using Reliable Thinking Methods

eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2010,
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