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Institute of Government

Institute of Government

Writing Program


Basic Writing & Grammar Skills That Get Results

Come learn the basics of business writing, including the application of grammar & punctuation rules to gain greater reader understanding. You will take an in-depth look at the importance of clear communications with business correspondence. You will learn up-to-date formats and current, latest trends of letters, memos, and e-mail. The course is designed for those who: (1) are new to the business world: (2) wish a refresher course in grammar and punctuation, or (3) have English as a second language. In-class “live” business-related exercises will ensure participants receive relevant training that will help them with their business writing.


  • Basics of business writing
  • Review of grammar and punctuation, with extensive business-oriented exercises
  • Format & construction of business letters, memos, & e-mail
  • Audience analysis
  • Writing in Plain Language
  • How to develop effective proof-reading skills
  • New techniques for quickly identifying errors

Business Writing  ... Plain and Simple

This seminar is for anyone who needs to communicate in writing and would like to do it as simply and effectively as possible. You will learn basics of business writing including: how to organize, how to effectively use words and different types of documents, and how to get your message through clearly and concisely. Beyond basics you¡¦ll learn how to convey the right tone, how to get what you need from your reader, and how to use visual tools in correspondence. You will leave this session with tools you can use immediately to improve your performance.


  • Organization - Learn three simple steps to help make your documents clear and concise.
  • Plain Language(.gov!) - Learn the value and the secrets of Plain Language (and the website that serves as a resource for all).
  • Using Words - Examine several types of words and how they are used – and abused.
  • Grammar and Punctuation - Learn how to avoid the most common errors.
  • Document Types - Match your writing purpose to the type of document you need. Review specific ways to improve e-mail, memos, reports, and other documents.
  • Software Tips - Learn how to use features of word processing software to help improve your writing.

Creating Quick Notes ... Writing at the Speed of Meetings

Would you like to learn how to write meeting minutes more quickly and not lose accuracy? If you said yes, then you will want to attend our Creating Quick Notes two day course.
The Creating Quick Notes course has been specifically designed to help you improve your note taking speed and accuracy through the use of 12 proven speed writing techniques. In addition to these techniques, topics covered also include:


  • Issues and solutions when note-taking responsibilities are shared
  • Proof–reading essentials
  • Time-saving computer tips
  • How to increase productivity and reduce errors


Email Etiquette Tips

E-mail is great; it’s vital to business communications. But it’s often misused, and readers complain about incomprehensible messages full of grammar mistakes. You’ll learn how to structure your e-mail for greater reader understanding and compliance. You’ll learn how to avoid the many pitfalls of improper use of e-mail that have sent many users to court, and even to jail. And you’ll learn the importance of following the rules of “Netiquette” on the Internet.


  • The importance of writing in plain language
  • Ten tips for writing top-notch e-mail
  • When to be cautious and when not to use e-mail
  • Learn when to use e-mail and when to use paper
  • Learn how three simple words can significantly improve your e-mail
  • How to ensure your reader can open your attachments

Ensuring Professionalism with Business Grammar Update

Most of us haven’t reviewed our English grammar since school days yet there have been many changes in acceptable usage since then. By taking this workshop, you can increase your self-confidence about current guidelines for correct punctuation, capitalization, usage, format, and spelling. You’ll learn how to avoid embarrassing mistakes, and project a credible, professional image.


  • Update your knowledge of what is considered to be correct usage of grammar
  • Learn the underlying logic of punctuation and sentence structure
  • Differentiate between active and passive voice
  • Construct clear, focused, complete sentences
  • Use your computer’s grammar checker to spot mistakes
  • Identify the errors that computers often miss

 Professional Business Writing

This seminar is designed to improve your business writing skills to better meet the needs of your customers, vendors, and internal clients. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, the seminar offers an up-to-date look at what’s happening in the world of business correspondence. You will get new ideas on improving the organization of your letters and memos and learn how to better tailor your correspondence to your reader


  • Develop your ideas into logical organization
  • Reduce the time it takes to write your opening paragraph
  • Overcome writers-block
  • Analyze your audience
  • Write successful letters and memos
  • Edit for clarity, brevity and understanding

Writing & Publishing Winning Newsletters

If you’re responsible for writing and publishing one or more newsletters for your organization, this seminar is for you. The course is designed to help you plan, write, edit, and publish newsletters, whether they’re formal or informal; printed hard-copy or distributed on the Internet. You’ll be using the same techniques newspaper reporters use to write both hard and soft news. You’ll receive tips on using photography in your articles, as well as ideas for making your newsletter attractive, readable, and understandable – the first time it’s read. [b]Note:[-b] This class will not cover the technical aspects of electronic newsletter publishing. We will take you to the point where you can send your newsletter to your printer or to the Internet/Intranet. It is assumed that participants are competent composing in MS Word.


  • Develop a plan for publishing a newsletter that can help meet your organization’s communication goals
  • Develop potential story ideas and identify primary news sources
  • Gather information and conduct effective interviews
  • Analyze your audience
  • Understand the strategy behind hard & soft news stories
  • Write hard & soft news articles
  • Edit news articles for clarity, brevity, and understanding
  • Design your newsletter using standard word-processing software
  • Incorporate photography and graphics in your newsletter to add reader interest

Writing Policies, Procedures and Manuals

If you’re responsible for preparing clear, concise instructions that your readers will follow, this seminar is for you. Whether you’re preparing a full-fledged policies and procedures manual, or simply a one-page sheet of directions, the material you prepare should be understood by your readers their first time through! The primary goal of this seminar is to show you how to plan, write, edit, and publish successful manuals, guidelines, directives, policies and procedures. You’ll receive a large resource manual with sample pages from manuals of many organizations. Class participation will center on real-life examples from your own organizations.


  • Analyze your audience
  • Recognize appropriate style, structure and sequence of information, tailored to your reader
  • Determine which of seven types of writing best matches your readers’ needs
  • Design a readable page layout
  • Maintain, revise, and purge documents efficiently

Writing Successful Meeting Minutes

Minutes are no longer designed to educate those who did not attend a meeting on nuances of discussions. The focus of minutes is to report who did what. The course starts by equipping participants with timesaving techniques for capturing the right type and amount of information at meetings. It then provides practical tools to produce minutes that are useful, high-impact, concise, and professional. Throughout the training, participants apply the tools and techniques to their own meeting minutes so they can see the transformation take place.


  • Improve the accuracy and quality of meeting minutes
  • Capture accurately the key points and details of discussions, no matter how rambling the meeting
  • Transcribe notes into a reader-friendly, usable form
  • Select the formats that are most appropriate for particular types of meetings
  • Write in Plain Language
  • Project an organized, competent, professional image