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June 9, 2010 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a good technical / business writing book?

I took a technical writing for engineers class in undergrad, and kept the book, which I find myself referring to when writing resumes, job applications and proposals. But sometimes I wonder how relevant it remains in an era where most writing happens in email. I also wonder if the resume writing and cover letter advice is well received by people making hiring decisions.

For those who prepare written documents regularly on the job: is there a better book people working in the field recommend for preparing and formatting reports, proposals, and other written communication?

Hiring managers: are there books with advice you like on the subject of resumes and cover letters?
posted by pwnguin to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds to me like you are asking 2 questions.
1. What is a good book for improving your business writing? "The Elements of Style" by Strunk. Very small. Very, very good. Makes a huge difference.
2. How does one write a good resume and cover letter? I suggest that you see if you can find somebody in HR (or even a job placement pro) who can critique your current cover letter and resume. There are lots of books out there but I have found the best feedback comes from an HR person's critique.
Good luck.
posted by PickeringPete at 5:27 AM on June 10, 2010

I think you might like Developing Quality Technical Information.

I like Elements of Style, but it will not help you to format specific business or technical documents.
posted by tastybrains at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: Good gravy, this all people are giving you? Alright then, here are some books used by other technical writing instructors:

This is a very handy reference -- Handbook of Technical Writing

For style and tips on being a better writer -- Williams' _Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity & Grace_ and Bremer's _Untechnical Writing_

If you do not want to spend money, here is a site for technical writing.

Now, regarding writing a better resume and cover letter. I agree upthread that you need other people to look at your material. You also need to keyword effectively and that means researching the job descriptions at the place in question. Also, do informational interviews and be sure to bring your material for review and have good questions ready such as, what skills would you recommend for someone like me to be a stellar candidate?

Further the green has been good on many occasions.

I am in a rush, so apologize for the disjointed writing.
posted by jadepearl at 1:30 PM on June 11, 2010

Response by poster: Indeed I was hoping someone could recommend me something other than Elements of Style, which I have already have inherited from my father. In case it clarifies, I'm not looking to be a Technical Writer of documentation, manuals or specifications, but an Engineer or Software Developer who writes. But looking at the books recommended, it seems I perhaps overestimate the difference. The Handbook jadepearl mentioned looks promising -- I recall my instructor claiming that ACM / IEEE had no discernible style and forced APA on us.

In my current position it seems I need to take effort to bring the entire group up to modern practice in a number of ways. More importantly, there's no internal process I can follow to do that, so I have no previously approved proposals to look at for reference on good ways to convince management to improve rather than rely upon the status quo.
posted by pwnguin at 4:27 PM on June 16, 2010

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