Business Writing: What Works, What Won't / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 89%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (35) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $10.38   
  • Used (26) from $1.99   


Do your business memos get the results you want? Do you panic when it's time to write the year-end sales report, or that deal-clinching letter to a potential client? If so, you're not alone. Like you, many people who write on the job feel unsure about their skills, and wish there were simple guidelines for getting started and expressing themselves in winning ways. This practical, fun, confidence-boosting guide offers exactly those guidelines. Author Wilma Davidson shares her fifteen years of experience as a corporate writing coach, delivering the essential information, motivation, and inspiration needed to write more effectively on the job. Using dozens of sample letters, memos, and other real-office documents, plus engaging exercises and copious illustrations, Davidson covers every aspect of business writing, from conquering writer's block, to revising first drafts, to finessing the finer points of structure, argument, and style.

In a straightforward style, this book shows how to: stop procrastinating, divide tough writing assignments into manageable parts, organize the message, choose a layout that enhances readability and how to write with confidence, power and clarity. 24 line illustations/charts throughout.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Business writing manuals tend to fall into two traps. One is dwelling on how much business people hate to write because of bad teachers in school (no one wants to admit that writing takes thinking). The other is inconsistency in tone-trying to use everyday business language but lapsing into quoting Shakespeare in Latin. This book avoids both traps. It has a good format for use in seminars and classes: Chapters are short and contain exercises and examples, humor, and illustrations to make their points clear and memorable. This book suggests some useful activities that don't often appear in similar manuals, such as clustering and writing dialog to get started, and wisely emphasizes getting the first draft done before doing any editing. Davidson is a 15-year veteran of teaching writing seminars in the corporate world for such companies as AT&T and Johnson & Johnson. Her manual is appropriate for public, academic, and corporate libraries.-Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312109486
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/1994
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 411,348
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.09 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

WILMA DAVIDSON, Ed.D., is a corporate writing coach with 20 years of experience. Her clients include M&M Mars, Anheuser-Busch, and many other corporations. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Business Writing

What Works, What Won't
By Wilma Davidson

St. Martin's Griffin

Copyright © 1994 Wilma Davidson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312109486

  Part 1What This Book Can Do for You
Scribendo disces scribere. “You learn to write by writing.”Samuel Johnson
1From Procrastination to Power: Writing Painlessly and WellGood writing is good business. Bad writing isn’t. To be successful in sales, marketing, finance, engineering, law, personnel, and in virtually every field, you need to write well. In fact, your business writing can serve as persuasive evidence of your competence, your personality, your management style. It’s as plain and simple—and frightening—as that.And, undoubtedly, that fright (those panicky waves in your brain that light out in all directions each time you have to write) has put this edition in your hands. I wrote it as I did the first edition, to do away with your discomfort, to demystify writing and editing, to help you write easily and well. While I can’t promise that you’ll finish the book loving to write, I do promise that you’ll hate writing less—and distribute a better memo, letter, or report as a result of using this practical guide. Whether you are writing an e-mail to a coworker or a proposal to an international client, this book will help.It offers up-to-date examples and answers, and because it’s arranged in units, you can pick it up, do a little work, put it down, and return to it later without having to start over. It doesn’t treat improving your written work as if it were a moral issue; nor does it assume that the fate of the world hinges upon your perfect prose. But, with wit and wisdom, it does encourage you and show you how to write better. It will sustain you from your first to your final draft.For more than twenty years, in one-on-one consultations, in seminars and talks, and in published articles, I’ve worked to help clients be competent in and feel confident about their writing. Clients who admit their negative attitude about the task. Clients who get stuck at the sight of a blank page or screen. Clients who are disorganized and fuzzy about what to write and what tone to take. Clients who are wordy because they don’t know how not to be. Clients who retreat behind a desk in embarrassment—and anger—after their manager has red-penned their grammatical and mechanical errors and, possibly, their career.If these clients and their writing sound familiar, you’ve found the book you need. Its advice, anecdotes, and exercises have proven successful in corporate classrooms across the globe and have improved the business writing of countless clients. And those results have encouraged me to encourage you in this newly updated edition.BUSINESS WRITING: WHAT WORKS, WHAT WON’T: REVISED EDITION. Copyright © 2001, 1994 by Wilma Davidson, Ed.D. Illustrations copyright © 1994 by Durell Godfrey. All rights reserved. Most of the illustrations in this book are based on sketches drawn by Tom Kish and copyright © Davidson & Associates. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.


Excerpted from Business Writing by Wilma Davidson Copyright © 1994 by Wilma Davidson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents



INTRODUCTION: Why I Wrote This Book

PART 1: What This Book Can Do for You

1. From Procrastination to Power: Writing Painlessly and Well
2. Where to Begin to Improve
3. Qualities of Powerful Writing

PART 2: Getting the Writing Going

4. Overcoming Page Fright
5. Getting Started: Strategies that Work

PART 3: Showcasing Your Ideas and Information Through Organization, Format, and Sentence Structure

6. Organizing Your Message
Get to the Bottom Line!
How to Tell a Bottom-Line Statement from a Purpose Statement
Bottom-Lining Exercises
When Not to Bottom-Line
Organizing the Rest of the Document
7. Formatting Ideas to Clarify Your Message
Write Headlines That Help
Use "Chunking" to Organize Your Thoughts
Chunking Exercises
Use Tables, Graphs, and Other Visuals to Give the Big Picture Fast
Use PowerPoint Slides to Aid Your Oral Presentations
Summary of Techniques That Showcase Your Ideas and Reveal Your Knack for Organizing
8. Structuring Your Sentences—to Clarify Your Intent and Add Style
Combine Sentences to Create Emphasis and Eliminate Wordiness
Combine Sentences to Present Ideas of Parallel Importance
Focus on Emphasis
Focus on Eliminating Wordiness
Vary Sentence Length to Create Rhythm
Eight Ways to Add Emphasis and Elegance to Sentences

PART 4: Choosing Your Words Wisely for Conciseness and Consideration

9. Getting Rid of Sentence Clutter
Cutting Out Ten Forms of Clutter
10. Tempering Your Tone
Considering Your Reader, Yourself, and Tone
Avoiding the Negative by Accentuating the Positive
Delivering Unpopular Messages
Using Humor
Banishing Bias

PART 5: Getting It Right: The Basics of Grammar and Spelling

11. Grappling with Grammar
The Seven Deadly Sins of Grammar
Bungle Rules
Frequently Asked Questions About Grammar . . . And Their Answers
Formal Grammar Rules You Can Bend
12. Spelling
What if You're a Lousy Speller?
Easily Misspelled Words
Forming Plurals from Our Strange Language

PART 6: Writing Quickly and Well

13. Deadline Writing: A Process for Getting It Started, Keeping It Going, Getting It Right
Phase One: Helter-Skelter Writing—the Zero draft
Phase Two: Hocus-Pocus Organizing
Phase Three: Ruthless Editing

PART 7: Talking to Other Writers—and to Your Micro Recorder

14. An E-mail Quick Guide
15. Collaborating
Giving Feedback to Others
A Word to the Wise Manager: How to Encourage Employees to be Responsible for Their Writing
16. Dictating
Can I Convince You to Try It?

pardA Process for Productive Dictating

APPENDIX: Guidelines and Model Letters
Customer Follow-up/Recap/Thank you
Confirming/Directive Memos
Encouraging the Team/Team Update
Meeting Minutes
Providing/Requesting Information


Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 11, 2010

    Very Good Educational Book

    Was used for a college business class. It was very educational and non-threatening. Reading was easy and very full of information. Gave examples of what to do and what not to do. Gave good examples of what to say and how to say it. Gave examples of business letters and emails. Very good easy reading. Every student in the class gave this book good reviews. Each student spoke of the very funny quips that were in each chapter. Each chapter covered its topic very thoroughly and in depth. Gave examples of each teaching and was very informational. Very good book for all to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)