Learn the basics and beyond
at the Business Writing Center

Dec 21, 2001
Beth Blakely
2002 TechRepublic, Inc.

There's an old joke about a doctor and a novelist making small talk at a party. The doctor says, "You know, I've always thought I'd like to write a book when I retire." The novelist responds, "Yes, and I'd like to try brain surgery."

The joke illustrates the attitude that some have that writing is something anyone can do. While that's certainly not the case, it is true that you can enhance your writing abilities through study and practice.

If you're looking for a place to brush up on your writing skills, you might try the Business Writing Center. We took a look at the site's offerings and spoke with Dr. Robert Craig Hogan, the Center's director, to find out about the benefits the Center can offer IT consultants.

What are consultants writing?

Consultants often have to present their skills and solutions on paper. A recent TechRepublic Quick Poll, for example, showed that 62 percent of the IT consultant audience handles documentation work for clients (Figure A).

Some consultants have also added technical writing to their list of contract work to further use the knowledge they already have and increase their income. Every company that creates a product needs some sort of documentation, whether internally or for end users. Consultants are particularly well suited for this task because of their practical knowledge but only if they have the writing know-how to do the job well.

The Business Writing Center can help consultants refresh their writing skills or learn business-writing basics. The Center, located in Normal, Illinois, offers online learning, on-site workshops, and individual evaluations for each student.

Training for the individual

The Center currently offers 23 courses that students can either complete online or at workshops held at the student’s company. Hogan said the following courses might interest IT consultants:

  • Writing Computer User Manuals and System Documentation
  • Business Writing Skills
  • Writing Effective Business Letters
  • Writing Effective Workplace E-mail
  • Writing Skills for Technical Support Center Representatives
  • Basic Writing Skills Tutorial
  • Individualized Writing Skills
The Individualized Writing Skills course is developed based on the students' needs and goals for their writing skills. The instructor can "diagnose" their writing and develop an individualized course of study to achieve those goals.

There are also several courses for people who speak English as a second language and want to learn to write it effectively.

Each course costs $295 plus a variable cost for texts that ranges from nothing to $50. Online students have up to six months to complete a course.

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