Posted in Announcements, Assignments, Resources

You know you’re done with Intro to PW when:

This week is about wrapping up loose ends and finishing projects.

Monday and Wednesday are studio days. I will be available to read drafts, comment on processes, answer questions, and help you clarify deliverables. I highly recommend you take advantage of this time to get feedback and work alongside your peers.

If you will not be in class, please send me an email letting me know why and how your work is progressing outside of class. Remember our discussion about rhetorical choices and email. Learn how to talk to professors, managers and colleagues about how you’re balancing multiple demands without communicating that too common “I have something more important to do” vibe. It’s an important skill and one worth cultivating. Important note: This isn’t about lying to professors, managers, etc. It’s about being clear, ethical, and rhetorically effective. Tough, but doable, and the hallmark of a good professional writer.

Friday is our last day of class. It is important that you are in class. We will do some brief discussion of what your projects are, what you’ve learned, and what’s next for you. You will complete your participation self-evaluations in class. I’ll bring treats. 

Your professional profiles and your final portfolio projects are due no later than Wednesday, May 3rd at 5PM. Electronic copies in your google drive folder and an email letting me know the work is complete is sufficient. If you would prefer to hand in hard copies, please email me to make an appointment.

All the required elements of each project are listed on the End of Semester Assignment Sheet (which I have updated to include the letter of transmittal for your professional profiles. Consult these guidelines for a letter of transmittal to help you complete this element of the assignment.

Final Grading reminders:

These two final projects represent a significant portion of your grade. They should represent the culmination of what you have learned this semester, and they should show your serious engagement with the assignments and with your own professional development. While there isn’t a rubric I think my expectations have been clear.

Your work should have a specific audience and a specific use case for final deliverables. You can return to my comments on your proposal drafts to clarify what my expectations are for your professional profiles. If you’re still not sure, we should talk during studio time or office hours this week.

For your final portfolio pieces: The work you’re doing here varies widely. I’m happy with the project you’ve chosen and know there will value for you in following through with them. Some of you have chosen projects where my feedback will be valuable in moving work forward if you need or want specific feedback from me on this work, please be clear about what you’re looking for in your reflections. 

Remember with your portfolio projects, there are two pieces: 

  1. The thing you are making
  2. Your reflection on the process, the rhetorical choices you made, and the professional writing skills you are drawing upon to complete the work. The reflection is as important to me as the thing you are making. Take it seriously. If you’re not sure what to include or how to approach the reflective work, let’s talk about it in studio this week.

When everything is handed in, you’re done. Please don’t forget to fill out your instructor evaluations for this class. They are important to me. 

Posted in Resources

Transcription Help

I’ve talked to some of you one-on-one about transcription strategies, but I wanted to put some of what we’ll talk about today in a resources you can access later. Here’s a few tips and instructions.

First, a resource: This is a transcription program with a text editor tht you can use directly in Crome. It has a free 7 day trial period before it will ask you to buy a license. There are other apps, services, and players out there you can use. Find one that will help you slow down and replay audio easily.

Now some advice:

  • Think about the purpose of the interview you are transcribing as you make editorial decisions about, for example, editing out speech patterns, or excluding part of an answer that wasn’t useful to you (or that the participant asked you to exclude.) You will want to communicate these decisions as part of your research data.
  • Think about format. I’ve talked to several of you about using a two column approach to transcription that is similar to one I recommended for observations: One column for the data, and one for questions, impressions, comments, and thoughts you may want to return to. Given the exploratory nature of your interviews, this might be an effective strategy (It is not a required strategy.)
  • Please include with your interview transcript a header that communicates the meta-data about the interview (participants, time, date, transcription date, etc). Along with the identifying data listed above you should also include a short description of the purpose of the interview and any editorial choices you made. For example: “this transcription focused on the substance of the participant’s responses, rather than speech patterns and dialect. Text may be edited for clarity in the following ways:….”


Posted in Uncategorized

Document design resources

For those of you who need to think about document design as part of your final projects (and really, this is all of you) Here are a couple of quick resources. I’ll be happy to have further discussion about these issues with you, either one on one or in small groups in studio over the next couple of weeks.

This is a web article I like about visual hierarchy. It focuses on screen design, but it’s discussion of how we read in in the Western world (from top to bottom, left to right) and how those reading patterns effect how we should design documents is useful. It describes some design layouts that break up text and help you to think about how to use headings, alignment, typography and whitespace effectively to increase readability.

Keep in mind the peer review exercise we did where I asked you to scan memos. Good document design takes seriously the 3 sec/30 sec/3 min rule.

The other resource that might be useful is a Powerpoint I borrowed from another instructor on effective resume design. All of the principles outlined in this presentation apply, not just to resume design, but to designing easily scannable professional documents across genres.

The CRAP design principles (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity) are useful for most kinds of visual design.

Finally, I’ll recommend a design book I like. It’s been a staple of graphic design teaching that is in its 4th edition. The Non-designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams is an inexpensive, useful primer. There’s a copy in the library, and I have one I’ll bring to studio time this week.

Posted in Assignments, Uncategorized

Topsight Activity Systems Worksheets

A reminder that you are reading chapters 19 and 20 for class on Monday.

Spinuzzi has made PDF versions of the worksheets available on his website . Using these worksheets may be helpful.

You can also adapt this very bare bones (but editable) version of the activity-system-diagram.

These chapters show how to think through the Macro view of and organization by looking at culture, history and long term goals. Some of this information may come from your interviews, and, if you’re involved in an organization, your experience, artifacts and maybe observations. You may also need to incorporate some secondary research, looking at company websites, press releases, or research about the industries your companies or organizations are engaged in.

Activity systems are analytical tools. They are expected to help you think through the data you are acquiring about a company or a problem. The goal is to identify the parts of a system and consider the relationships between those parts– both in terms of the connections and the contradictions or difficulties.

As you are working on your research proposals, you should be thinking about how you will incorporate the activity system analysis into your research. Think about what questions it can help you answer.


Posted in Opportunities

Class and Professional Development Opportunity

The business and professional writing consultants are hosting a callout on Monday 3/27 at 6:00 PM to talk about ENGL 390B, the practicum class students can take in order to work as writing center tutors.

Working in the writing center is valuable regardless of major– it teaches collaboration, negotiation, mentoring and invention in ways that no other space does. I think its an invaluable place to develop your professional tool box, and I think its an important resume-builder whether your plan is more school or working in the field. The Purdue Owl has cultivated both academic and industry awareness. It’s a tool everyone uses and understands, even if they don’t necessarily get why writing is important.

Working in the writing center is worth pursuing. If you’d like to talk about this more, go to the callout. I hear there will also be pizza.


Posted in Opportunities

Professional Writing Showcase– Design Opportunity

This contest is an excellent opportunity to develop design pieces for your portfolio, and win $50. Win-Win. You can find more information and examples on the professional writing website

The Professional Writing Program is holding a design contest! Submit original designs to be featured on the front and back pages of the 2017 Professional Writing Showcase program booklet and used on flyers and table tents. The winning designer will receive a $50 Visa gift card.

To be eligible, applicants must be an undergraduate Professional Writing major (or minor) or currently enrolled in a Professional Writing course (e.g., ENGL 420, 421, 422, 419, etc.). All template designs must be original or use content with a Creative Commons Attribution license.  Submission emails must contain the following:

  • Your name, year at Purdue, major, and current writing course/instructor
  • An 8.5 x 5.5 landscape front page design (saved as a .TIF file)
  • A 4.25 x 11 landscape “name tent” design (saved as a .TIF file)
  • An 8.5 x 11 portrait flyer design (saved as a .TIF file)
  • An 8.5 x 5.5 landscape back page design (saved as a .TIF file)

Submissions will be due by noon on Monday, April 3. Please send materials and direct any questions to Jeff Gerding, Assistant Director of Professional Writing, at Please use the subject line “PW Showcase Design Contest.”

Submissions will be judged by a committee of Professional Writing graduate instructors. The winning design will be announced by email and the winner will receive their gift card at PW Showcase on April 13.

Posted in Opportunities, Uncategorized

Writing Center Tutor positions Fall 2017

The Purdue writing lab is currently recruiting undergraduate tutors for Fall 2017. This is an excellent opportunity for both professional writers, and those of you from other disciplines who are interested in writing, and interested in diversifying your resume experience.

You can find more information about being a tutor here.

Applications are due FEb. 27th. Feel free to drop into the writing lab if you have questions. This is an excellent opportunity. Remember that Purdue OWL has name recognition far beyond the university.