A new session of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or
more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two
All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons
are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have
to be present when lessons are released. You will have access to all lessons until
the course ends. However, the interactive discussion area that accompanies each
lesson will automatically close two weeks after the lesson is released. As such,
we strongly recommend that you complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final
exam has been released, you will have two weeks to complete all of your course work,
including the final exam.
Lesson 01 - Writing as Problem Solving
In this first lesson, you'll learn a brainstorming technique that will help make writing easier and more fun for you right away. You'll learn how to disentangle the efforts of your creative and critical sides, and you'll come to understand why both sides are important components of good writing. You'll also learn why writing is one of the best problem-solving tools around.
Lesson 02 - Why Write and Who is Your Reader?
Here's where you'll learn a helpful system for organizing your writing, whether it's an e-mail, a formal letter, or a companywide memo. You'll start by picking out a document you have to write anyway so you can begin to put your new writing knowledge to use right away. You may as well get some work done while you're learning, right? Next, you'll nail down why you're writing this particular document and who your reader is. A second brainstorming technique will help you have fun thinking through these two questions.
Lesson 03 - Benefits You Can Offer Your Reader
In this lesson, you'll learn to make your readers do what you want. Your readers will be happy, too, since they'll get what they want in this win/win system. You'll learn the seven basic benefits you can offer your reader and how to write the crucial first sentence of your document. You'll learn one more brainstorming technique that will help you capture good ideas, words, and phrases.
Lesson 04 - Sequencing Your Ideas and How to Write Your Ending
Master seven strategies for putting your ideas in order and learn how poor sequencing can sabotage your efforts. You'll also discover the best way to end any document. It's an idea that may surprise you!
Lesson 05 - Revising, Formatting, Editing, and Proofreading
Revising, formatting, editing, and proofreading may all sound similar, but they're four distinct activities. In this lesson, you'll learn how revision is a process of exploration and discovery. You'll learn formatting strategies that will invite your reader in. You'll also learn to be a ruthless editor and professional proofreader.
Lesson 06 - What Words to Take Out
In this lesson, you'll learn how to write clearly and concisely. You'll explore three mistaken notions that lead business writers to use lots of convoluted phrasing and needlessly long words. You'll examine the pitfalls of using business clichés, jammed modifiers, trendy words, jargon, foreign words, redundancies, and hedging adjectives.
Lesson 07 - What Words to Put In
In the last lesson you learned what words to remove from your document. In this lesson, you'll learn what words you should include to make your business writing more compelling. You'll learn the four parts of the written communication process. You'll find out why the verbs and nouns you choose make a major difference. You'll also learn more ways to make the task of writing more enjoyable for you.
Lesson 08 - Strategies for Good Spelling and Punctuation
Today, we'll look at strategies for good spelling and punctuation. Everyone needs this review! To keep it fun, you'll get to deal with the topics of spelling and punctuation by taking some easy quizzes. It's a chance to learn by doing. See how good your spelling and punctuation skills really are. You'll learn that punctuation is not a tyranny of rules, but an evolving protocol to help you communicate. Finally, you'll capture your weak areas on a Tips Card.
Lesson 09 - One Easy Grammar Lesson
Why do you have to bother with grammar? You'll find out why in this lesson. Take the Grammar Blitz Quiz to discover your grammar strengths and weaknesses. It will help you fill in the gaps that remain after years of boring grammar classes. You'll learn why using the active instead of the passive voice can be a demonstration of your integrity. You'll also explore the traps pronouns set for those of us sensitive to gender issues.
Lesson 10 - Getting the Tone Right
Getting the tone right in business writing can be tricky, especially in e-mail. In this lesson, you'll get to tackle your worst moods with one more brainstorming technique. You'll learn how to defuse any negative emotions that might get in the way of your problem solving. You'll also learn how your attitude toward your reader, your topic, and your own needs determines your tone. As you go through the lesson, you'll learn two easy ways to eliminate unintentional tone mistakes.
Lesson 11 - When You Have to Say No
In this lesson, you'll learn why being able to say “no” with grace is a crucial business skill. A five-part format will give you a solid strategy for writing documents that say “no” while retaining the goodwill of your reader. You'll learn how to keep bad news letters, memos, and e-mails positive and helpful.
Lesson 12 - On E-Mail
All about e-mail: Here's an up-to-date review of all the ways e-mail is different from other kinds of business writing. You'll learn tips on how to write e-mail that gets the job done. You'll find out some of pitfalls of using e-mail, including its legal status in court. You'll also discover how to manage the tone of your e-mail so that it doesn't accidentally offend your reader.