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Welcome to Intro to Professional Writing

This course will introduce you to the kinds of jobs that writers do, the most common document genres, and the concepts and conventions that apply to the widest variety of professional writing situations. 

Moody Hall 306




Contact Information


Office: please note that I will be moving this semester from Andre 302 to Sorin Hall 208. The details are unclear at this point, but I will keep you informed. The best way to schedule a meeting with me is by email. 

Office hours: (see above). I will usually be in my office or on campus somewhere from 9-noon TR and 9-11 MWF. I am also available MWF after 2. 


There is no textbook for this course, but I will regularly post readings on my website and on Canvas that you will be responsible for reading. 

Canvas: You will submit assignments on Canvas, almost always as PDFs, doc files or docx files. I respond to assignments on Canvas. Please make sure that you know how to access my comments. 

A note about this website: While Canvas is great for turning in and grading assignments, let's face it, it's ugly. It can be hard to locate documents, too. So, I mostly use this website and then cut-and-paste the content into Canvas just to cover all the bases. So. When in doubt, use this website for information. Bookmark it; I've got it hidden from search engines. 

Course Overview

This course will be divided into units organized around concepts and documents that are broadly applicable to a wide variety of professional writing situations. The course will begin by looking into what professional writing is and how it differs from other types of writing that most college students have done (academic, journalism, creative). Students will research different careers in professional writing and present their findings to the class in oral presentations and informational handouts. Students will then work on documents that correspond with four concept areas and one from a genre that each student will choose individually that is specific to her or his choice of career areas. Students will create electronic portfolios to showcase their professional writing samples. 

Because professional writing often includes editing and reader-centered design, the class will also spend time on peer editing and document design principles. 


Grades for this course will come from four areas: Assignments, Portfolios, Homework and Daily Work (including peer editing), and a Final Exam. Each will be worth 25% of the overall final grade. 

Assignments (5) will be graded as Complete or Incomplete with the percentage of complete as the cumulative average. To be complete, they must be on time and address all of the requirements described in the assignment.They will also receive an evaluative commentary that will tell the student roughly what the grade range would be if this document was for a numeric grade. See below for further explanation of "spec." An assignment that is submitted incomplete or after the deadline may receive up to half credit.

The portfolio will receive a numeric grade of 1-100. 

Homework and Daily Work (number to be determined as needed and as schedule allows) will be graded as Complete or Incomplete, with the percentage of complete as the cumulative average.  To be complete, work must be on time and address all of the requirements described in the assignment. This category will also receive an evaluative comment that will tell the student roughly what the grade range would be if this document were for a numeric grade. See below for further explanation of "spec." Note: Homework and Daily Work cannot be made up. 

A midterm and final exam will receive a numeric grade of 1-100. The average of these two grades (100 points each) is worth the 25% of the final grade. Exams are over reading, definitions, and concepts. 

"Spec": This is a term that people in professional organizations use to describe whether something is up to standards or specifications. "Spec" can be applied to both products (cars, soap containers, buildings) and services (writing, editing, consulting). For this course, it means that an assignment meets, does not meet, or exceeds the requirements for description and specifications for the assignment. While assignments are only counted as complete or incomplete, it is important to know where this assignment stands according to spec so that you can revise it for your final portfolio. 

Spec: This means your project is somewhere in the B-C range. It has met all of the requirements of the assignment and demonstrates a basic mastery of the concepts. 

Below spec: This means that your project is in the below-C range. It does not meet all of the requirements of the assignment and/or fails to demonstrate mastery of the concepts. 

Above spec: This means that your project is in the B+ to A range. It meets all of the requirements, demonstrates mastery, and demonstrates excellence and/or innovation. 

Attendance Policy

A large majority of the coursework for this class will be done in class, so your attendance is very important. Be on time and prepared. If you get the flu (and apparently it's a banner flu year) or strep or some other dreadful disease that causes you to miss a lot of class, you must get documentation from a healthcare professional. The health center on campus is accessible and can take care of this easily on a walk-in basis. Do NOT come to class if you are running a fever. You do not have to tell me about your symptoms, just get to the health center and get me documentation after you return and we can discuss a catch-up plan. 

Perfect attendance adds 2 points to your final grade. Up to three absences will not directly affect your grade. Every absence after three will deduct up to a letter grade from your final grade. Note: Homework and Daily Work cannot be made up, which means that absences may also affect your grade indirectly.

Academic Integrity

Don't cheat. Don't present other people's work as your own. The university takes this quite seriously and it's not worth the consequences. See your handbook if you have questions about what constitutes academic dishonesty. 


Your student fees pay for outstanding campus resources such as the health center, the counseling center, the writing center, campus ministries, your academic counselor, reference librarians, RAs, and many more. I am also a resource. Take advantage of these support systems. Let me know if I can help you find the right support or assistance. I am happy to help. 

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