Does anyone have any solid recommendations on a resource I can use to assist my and my directs' writing skills?

I work for a software development company and lead a team of installation technicians with high technical ability but very poor writing skills.

2/3 of their correspondence makes me cringe... I've been giving tons of feedback on this matter to no avail.

The feedback and coaching time I have available just isn't enough to undo lifetimes of poor communication. I would like to strangle their parents and high school teachers!


DCochrane's picture
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Dear lefonquey1

You could try the Plain English Campaign website -

There are some free guides there -


stephenbooth_uk's picture

What sort of problems are we looking at here? Specific spelling, grammar and punctuation problems (e.g. effect vs affect, there/their/they're, not knowing when to use a comma or semicolon &c) or an inability to develop arguments and write cohesively?

The [url=]Grammar Girl[/url] podcast series is pretty good for hints and tips on grammar problems. It may be worth suggesting they listen to that. Maybe give them each a copy of "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White (I'm assuming you're in the US) and/or the "Chicago Manual of Style" (also available as an [url=]online subscription[/url]).

Maybe talk to your local community colleges and see if they have any suitable adult ed courses. Even a creative, short stories, writing course may help. My writing skills used to be awful (they're still not great now but they're a lot better than they were) and then I became interested in writing short stories, after a while (and having my stories picked to shreds by everyone I showed them to) I learned how to write. What I learned from improving my short stories has carried over into my writing at work, I still have issues but no where near as many as I had 10 years ago.


jhack's picture

The above are great resources.

Have you listened to the better writing podcasts? ( )

Practice brings them together. Treat every email and every spec as writing assignment. Hold a contest for best piece of writing each week?


rwwh's picture
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Talking about experience: I almost completely lost my abilities to write Dutch text (everything at work is in English) until I discovered Wikipedia in April 2003... writing and improving articles there provided me with exercise and brought back the joy of writing. If you write something, the other wikipedians will provide "instant feedback"...

WillDuke's picture
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I think JHack is my secret twin. All the resources mentioned above are great.

I want to second the idea of rewarding good writing rather than just penalizing poor writing. Make it fun. Get some friendly competition going in the group. Give some recognition to the person in the team who writes best, or improves most.

If it's the whole team, what about writing buddies? Before you send communication out to a customer you have to pass it to your writing buddy for review. That would get the whole team involved with each other. And, they'd be help up to standard by their peers rather than just people that might not mean so much to them.

lefonquey1's picture

Thanks, guys... I've gotten the approval to send them to a writing class at the local community college.

I hope this will help. I'll also think about the writing buddy thing... That's an interesting thought.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

If you'll give us more insight into what the issues are, we could probably help more specifically.

Typing is easy. Writing is hard. Good writing is harder than nuclear physics.

Unless you're William F. Buckley, RIP.


Sorry for the delay in responding. I regret my absence.

dlangley's picture

I think that you will find this website extremely useful. It provides creative writing prompts, topics,tips,tools,ideas,outlines and complete examples in an easy to use step-by-step format. Writers resources,journaling prompts,essay help, brainstorming techniques as well as the correct format for sending emails. Hope this helps!

TNoxtort's picture

I realize this is an old post, but I'll chime in with my writing tips. My wife is taking a writing class at the local community college, and not real pleased with it.

The best resource I found is a book called Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace by Joseph Williams. It has very simply rules, and exercises. Because those rules are so simple, the book is a slow read, but it'll change your writing forever.

I recently started reading The Minto Pyramid Principle. But this is about how to structure your logic, so it comes after the above.

I also like Grammar Girl's podcast and her two book on better writing and daily devotional better writing are great for the nuts and bolts questions that come up.

Being a good writer is a great skills to have. I have been successful in life writing complaint letters, writing papers for publication, and papers for work that have really influenced people. More recently, my wife's health has not been good and my writing has resulted in several successful appeals to our health insurer to get her needed tests. In fact, now when I escalate anything to the next level, it automatically gets approved because I think they are tired of having to respond to my appeals (which very consicely nitpick their policies, cite lots of literature, and detail every mistake they've made).