ENGL 3040: Business Writing (Spring 2020)


ENGL 3040: Business Writing                                      Clemson University

Section# 007 Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11:00A-12:15PM, DAN 414                                                            Spring 2020



INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Jennifer Forsberg

EMAIL: jforsbe[at]clemson.edu

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays & Thursdays

12:15-1:15PM, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00PM,

and by appointment




Business Writing is intended to be an introduction to the concerns of audience, context, and purpose for texts common in professional business settings. This course focuses on writing strategies for varied rhetorical situations in common business forms such as: memoranda, letters, reports, and proposals. The goal is to provide practical writing strategies in an effort to make your business communications both effective and efficient.



After completing this course, students should be able to:

  • Recognize the importance of clear, concise communication in business communications.
  • Gain familiarity and apply audience-based compositional strategies that are appropriate in form, tone and style to the business world.
  • Utilize varied writing strategies and revision practices for effective communication across business formats, especially in digital compositions.
  • Construct arguments and take positions that are supported with evidence and consider the complexity of business ethics within communication practices.
  • Develop and apply precise and purposeful written communication in the pre-employment stage and as required by potential employers.
  • Anticipate the needs of a business environment and attend to them through precise language and documentation in routine messages, customer service, staff management, proposals or reports, and employment messages.



Master critical thinking skills and rhetorical concepts as they apply to professional environments and the ethical considerations within them (LO1)

  • Explore the dynamics of professional communities and the nuances of communicating within them.
  • Research and evaluate information from professional, academic, and governmental resources that are appropriate for workplace genres and rhetorical situations.
  • Analyze data from research and incorporate it into assigned writing to achieve clear, concise, and logical communication, properly cited.
  • Analyze and evaluate information for quality and validity that effectively responds to the purpose, audience, context, and genre.
  • Pinpointing the risks associated with different writing strategies and making deliberate writing decisions to compose effective texts.


Apply effective communications strategies to targeted readers (LO2)

  • Study and understand the ethical, international, social, and professional constraints of audience, style, and content for writing situations internal to the organization and external to it (i.e. other companies and/or the public).
  • Practice writing for targeted audiences and implementing the stylistic, mechanical, and organizational strategies that will effectively reach them.
  • Pinpoint and analyze the challenges that accompany writing in the workforce (addressing sensitive situations, targeting broad audiences, planning for the uncertainties associated with targeted readers, navigating the nuances of relational dynamics amongst various readers) and developing strategies for effective communication.


Compose effectively in a variety of forms and media appropriate to the discipline (LO3)

  • Practice writing specific genres of business communication appropriate to the contexts and audiences. These genres may include white papers, recommendations reports, analytical reports, proposals, memorandums, web pages, wikis, blogs, business letters, and promotional documents.
  • Produce documents in writing processes that include peer review, revision, and production of a variety of genres.
  • Practice editing professional documents for precision, clarity, professionalism, and heightened style.
  • Practice communicating effectively in staged performance contexts appropriate to the professional world, such as proposals, pitch presentations, client interactions, and progress reports.
  • Develop writing styles that are concise, clear, accurate, without ambiguity, or wordiness.




Writing that Works, 12th edition. by Walter E. Oliu, Charles T. Brusaw & Gerald J. Alred. ISBN: 9781319019488 (digital or paperback)

The Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing by Claire Meirowitz & Natalie Canavor. ISBN: 9780137015436


This course requires the use of computer technologies and digital materials both inside and outside of class. You should bring your laptop to class with batteries fully charged to participate in informal and formal activities and to take notes. You are expected to use your technology effectively and responsibly. When class tasks do not require a laptop it should be put aside.






Each day you attend class you are expected to participate in a series of tasks that help to facilitate your learning. You may miss up to 3 classes throughout the term and remain in good standing, however in-class activities or participation points cannot be “made up” with the exception of prearranged university sanctioned events or documented illness, per my discretion. Starting with the 4th absence, you will incur a 2% penalty from your final grade. Students who miss more than 10 classes may be dropped from the class.


If you miss important information regarding assignments or exams please check with your peers or look to Canvas for announcements or updates.


Course Disruptions

Any exam scheduled at a time that class is cancelled due to inclement weather will be given at the next class meeting. I will announce all extensions or postponements of assignments or exams via Canvas within 24 hours of the weather related cancellation.


In the event that I am late for class, please check Canvas for an update and wait 10 minutes before dismissing yourself.


Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty

The following is Clemson’s official statement on “Academic Integrity”: “As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson’s vision of this institution as a ‘high seminary of learning.’ Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.”

The instructor will deal with plagiarism on a case-by-case basis. The most serious offense within this category occurs when a student copies text from the Internet or from a collective file. This type of academic dishonesty is a serious offense that will result in a failing grade for the course as well as the filing of a formal report to the university. See the Clemson site below for information about Academic Integrity and procedures regarding the violation of Clemson policies on scholastic dishonesty: http://www.clemson.edu/academics/academic-integrity/




The Writing Center (307 Academic Success Center building)

The Writing Center is a free tutoring service available to the entire student body, regardless of major or academic standing. It provides students opportunities to discuss questions or problems related to academic writing—from generating a topic and thesis to organizing a draft and integrating appropriate citations. The Writing Center’s goal is to help Clemson students become confident and effective writers. You can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting the Writing Center’s website (http://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/writing/), by calling them at 864-656-3280, or by simply stopping in.


Students with Disabilities

It is university policy to provide, on a flexible and individualized basis, reasonable accommodations to students who have disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact Student Disability Services to discuss their individualized needs for accommodation. For more information visit http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/sds/index.html


Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This policy is located at http://www.clemson.edu/campus-life/campus-services/access/title-ix/. Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorrf Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).


Office Hours

I hold office hours on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12:30P-1:30P and on Wednesdays from 2:00-4:00PM in Strode 502. Please come by and utilize the help I am ready to offer. During busy times of the semester (near major assignments and the final weeks) I suggest that you contact me for a scheduled appointment so I can guarantee you time. I check my email Monday through Friday from 8AM-4PM. You should not expect to hear from me outside of those times and need to plan accordingly if you have questions about an upcoming deadline or reading.


While I am happy to help you brainstorm via email (no attachments please), I only review drafts in person during office hours. Please plan accordingly if you would like detailed feedback in advance of our deadlines.




Grading System:

Clemson University’s grading system is described in the 2019-2020 Undergraduate Announcements, p. 25-27.  Grades of A, B, C, D, F, I, P, NP and W may be given in accordance with academic regulations. For more information on this grading system, please see the Registrar’s web site at http://www.registrar.clemson.edu/html/finalGrades.htm.


Every point matters. I aim to provide you timely and detailed feedback and opportunities to improve your score throughout the term. For that reason I do not entertain requests to round your final grade at the end of the term, but do have a policy to award students who stand at 69.5, 79.5, 89.5 and above the next letter grade.


Grading Policy

Canvas Grade Book is a helpful tool for keeping watch on your overall grade in real time throughout the course. However, it is your responsibility to keep up with your grades and contact me if you believe there is has been an error in your earnings. Any concerns must be addressed within 2 weeks of that score’s release.


Due Dates and Late Work Policy

All assignments are due to Canvas the start of class on the due date (per your section) unless otherwise specified. If work is submitted after the deadline it will be considered late and will incur a 50% deduction for each 24-hour period. Assignments more than 48 hours late will earn no credit.


Written Assignments

Each assignment has a grading rubric to ensure that you are meeting the course objectives and the learning objectives across the chapters we are covering. These rubrics should serve as a checklist before you submit assignments in addition to a detailed explanation of how your work will be assessed.


Uploaded files should always be labeled with your LastNameFirstNameAssignmentName. Ex: SmithJ2_149. Please upload .DOC or .PDF files to Canvas for easy peer review and/or feedback. If using GoogleDocs, save as a PDF before uploading to secure your formatting.




In-Class Activities and Participation:

To earn credit under this heading you must not only attend class at the designated times and be prepared to discuss that day’s materials, but also engage with in-class tasks, including but not limited to: group activities, peer reviews, and/or group discussions. With very few exceptions, these points cannot be made up in the event of an absence because they rely upon your preparation, participation, and interaction in class. In-Class Activities and Participation are worth 30% of your grade


Grammar Tutorials:

For this task each student will be required to post one discussion thread with an assigned grammar issue. Your post should be a resource created in Adobe Spark Pages, Adobe Spark Video or other multimedia format for online posting. You should include: a brief explanation of rule/error with examples, 3 short practice exercises, and 3 recommendations for avoiding the error or addressing the issue. Be sure to cite any sources you consult, including the textbook appendix. Your assigned tutorial will be listed on Canvas for your reference.

Grammar Tutorial is worth 5% of your grade


Truth About the New Rules of Business Writing Facilitations:

At your designated time in the schedule, you will be responsible for facilitating the class through the content of your assigned truths pairing in 2-3 minutes. This should not be a summary of your sections, but rather a reflection that prompts a 4-5 minute class discussion related to the content, approach, or practicality of the rule. To expedite grading, please post a bullet-point outline of your discussion plans and how you plan to spark conversation to Canvas in advance of your facilitation. Your assigned rule pairing will be listed on Canvas for your reference. New Truths Facilitations are worth 5% of your grade


Writing Practice:

Chapter assignments provide you the opportunity to practice skills and apply techniques related to chapter content. Some descriptions are purposefully ambiguous to require thoughtful strategies of developing both form and content. Many of these tasks will be drafted components that you will revise for formal assessment in a portfolio, so these submissions should be approached formally and with consideration of organizational method and format structure (model examples in the book). Your work should be uploaded to Canvas as a .doc or .pdf for easier peer review in class and/or instructor feedback. Missing or late submissions can earn no more than 50% credit in the assessment portfolio.

Writing Practice is collectively worth 15% of your grade


Assessment Portfolios:

You will compile formal portfolios for assessment four times throughout the term. These portfolios should showcase your work and exemplify your ability to write in a variety of professional formats. The four portfolios include and should contain revised versions of the following practice assignments:

  • Process Portfolio: #2 (p. 28), # 4 (p. 93), #6, (123)
  • Career and Design Portfolio: # 5 (p. 572), #2 (260), #4 (pp. 421-2)
  • Routine Message Portfolio: #1 (p. 295), #9 (p. 332), #1 (pp. 145-6)
  • Report and Formal Message Portfolio: #6 (p. 208), #3 (p. 359), #3 (394), #7 (pp. 471-2), #4 (pp. 511-2)

Portfolios should be formatted according to the expectations of each document type and be on its own page without assignment notations (make them look official). Combine all parts into a single PDF for submission. Missing or late draft versions of these assignments can earn no more than 50% credit in the assessment portfolio. Assessment Portfolios are collectively worth 45% of your grade





Course Schedule

This schedule is subject to change. I will notify you in advance via Canvas if it does.


Important Dates to Note:

  • Jan 14, Tue: Last day to register or add a class
  • Jan 22, Wed: Last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University without a W grade
  • Mar 13, Fri: Last day to drop a class or withdraw from the University without a final grade
  • Mar 16, Mon- Mar 20, Fri: Spring Break


Date Reading To Complete Before Class Assignments and Tasks

Due At Start of Class

Thursday, 1/9


Ch 1: The Writing Process pp. 3-13







Tuesday, 1/14



Chapter 1 pp. 14-27 Chapter 2 pp. 31-39

Today is the last day to add a class


#2 (p.28)


Thursday, 1/16



Chapter 2: Planning pp. 40-64


Truths #3+4



Select items from #2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 (pp. 64-65) and create 3 total outlines (different organizations)


Truths #3+4


Grammar Tutorial: Sentence faults



Tuesday, 1/21



Chapter 3: Drafting



Truths #5 + 6


Tomorrow is the last day to drop a class without a W

# 1+2 (p. 93), select 2 audiences/purposes and draft


Truths #5 + 6


Grammar Tutorial: Nouns



Thursday, 1/23



Chapter 3: Drafting

pp. 79-93


Truths #11 + 12


#4 (pp. 93-4)


Truths #11 + 12


Grammar Tutorial: Pronouns




Tuesday, 1/28




Chapter 4: Revision

pp. 96-107


Truths# 20 + 7


#3 (p. 126) Hospital Human Resources


Truths# 20 + 5


Grammar Tutorial: Adjectives and Adverbs




Thursday, 1/30




Chapter 4: Revision

pp. 107-122


Truths # 52 + 17


#6 (p. 123): Outline and Draft Letter from Intro/Conclusion activity 1/21


Truths # 52 + 17


Grammar Tutorial: Verbs


Tuesday, 2/4



Chapter 15: Career Development

pp. 513-539


Truths #28 + 43


Job Ad Analysis


Truths #28 + 43


Grammar Tutorial: Commas



Thursday, 2/6



Chapter 15: Career Development

pp. 540-566


Truths # 36 + 37


#5 (p. 572)


Truths # 36 + 37


Grammar Tutorial: Colons


Process Portfolio Due



Tuesday, 2/11



Chapter 15: Career pp. 566-570

Chapter 7: Document Design

pp. 210-219


Truths # 49 + 9



#7 (p. 259) Select 5 options


Truths # 49 + 9


Grammar Tutorial: Quotation Marks



Thursday, 2/13



Chapter 7 Document Design

pp. 220-258


Truths # 13 + 8


#2 (p. 260)


Truths # 13 + 8


Grammar Tutorial: Apostrophes



Tuesday, 2/18



Chapter 12: Writing Instructions

pp. 395-411


Truths # 50 + 16



Truths # 50 + 16


Grammar Tutorial: Parentheses and Brackets


Thursday, 2/20



Chapter 12: Writing Instructions

pp. 412-419


Truths # 14 + 19


#4 (p. 421-2)


Truths # 14 + 19


Grammar Tutorial: Hyphens



Tuesday, 2/25



Chapter 8

email, memo, letters

pp. 265-283


Truths # 22+23


Truths # 22+23


Grammar Tutorial: Capitalization



Thursday, 2/27



Chapter 8

email, memo, letters

pp. 283-295


Truths # 26+27


Midterm Grades Posted Tomorrow



#1 (p. 295)


Truths # 26+27


Grammar Tutorial: Numbers



Tuesday, 3/3 Chapter 9: Routine Messages

pp. 299-322


Truths #: 15 + 45


#2 (p. 330)


Truths #: 15 + 45


Grammar Tutorial: Abbreviations


Career and Design Portfolio Due


Thursday, 3/5



Chapter 9: Routine Messages

pp. 322-330


Truths # 31 + 32



#9 (p. 332):


Truths # 31 + 32


Grammar Tutorial: Exclamation Marks


Tuesday, 3/10


Chapter 5: Collaborating

pp. 129-139


Truths # 48 + 51


Truths # 48 + 51


Grammar Tutorial: Semicolons



Thursday, 3/12


Chapter 5: Collaborating

pp. 139-143


Tomorrow is the last day to drop a class without a final grade


#1 (pp. 145-6) Collaborative Writing Team: Proposal





Tuesday, 3/24


Chapter 6: Conducting Research

pp. 148-171


Truths # 41 + 46



Truths # 41 + 46


Grammar Tutorial: Question Marks




Thursday, 3/26



Chapter 6: Conducting Research

pp. 172-206


Today is the last day to drop without a final grade


#6 (p. 208)


Grammar Tutorial: Periods



Tuesday, 3/31


Chapter 10: Internal Reports

pp. 335-345


Truths # 29 + 30



#2 (p. 356)


Truths # 29 + 30


Grammar Tutorial: Italics



Thursday, 4/2



Chapter 10: Internal Reports

pp. 345-355

#3 (p. 359)


Routine Message Portfolio Due


Tuesday, 4/7


Chapter 11: Formal Reports

pp. 360-376


Truths # 25 + 40


Truths # 25 + 40


Grammar Tutorial: Ellipses


Thursday, 4/9


Chapter 11: Formal Reports

pp. 377-391


#2 (p. 394)
Tuesday, 4/14


Chapter 13: Proposals

pp. 423-435


Truths # 10 + 18


#1 (p. 469) Internal Proposal for Tuition


Truths # 10 + 18


Thursday, 4/16


Chapter . 13: Proposals

pp. 436-469


#7 (pp. 471-2)


Tuesday, 4/21


Chapter 14: Presentations and Meetings pp. 474-494


Truths # 35 + 42


Truths # 35 + 42

Thursday, 4/23



Chapter 14: Presentations and Meetings pp. 495-509 #4 (pp. 511-2) Meeting Approach

Report and Formal Message Portfolio Due to Canvas by Monday, April 27th @ 11:59PM