Professional Writing Features and Purposes: What Universities Teach

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What do online providers of all those custom writing services mean when they add the adjective “professional” to the titles of their websites? What do employers mean when they search for a specialist with professional writing skills? We are going to answer these and many other questions below to let you see a clearer picture of such intellectual activity.

Professional Writing: What, When, Why

As the name suggests, it is connected with a certain profession or sphere of human activity. So, such type of writing can and must fulfill particular professional requests or requirements.

Also, it can be divided into two subtypes. I would not like to coin special terms for them. Let’s just consider them as writing for reward and as creative authorship. The first subtype implies that a specialist is engaged in a certain sphere of activity and that the texts he or she produces have very particular, even given, purposes and are oriented to achieving particular results. Are you thinking about some business or advertising now? Well, yes, you are right.

The second subtype, or creative authorship, is what Den Brown and Joanne Rowling are famous for nowadays. Simply put, it is when you are making money by selling your own (or ghostwritten) fiction, poetry, and so on.

In this article we are going to consider the first subtype in more detail. And here is the list of its main features as an introduction:

  • encouraging actions: ads are probably the best examples of how this feature of professional writing works in practice – they do encourage consumers to buy, order, invest, and the like;
  • informing: a description of a new Apple smartphone you are reading on the official website is aimed at informing you about its advantages; either is a college report on the latest conference;
  • instructing: find the manual for your laptop and you will see the bright example of professional and technical writing;
  • persuading: an advertisement or a business report for clients, as well as some other types of papers, are written to convince the addressee in validity of particular message or opinion;
  • affirming shared values or goals: although it refers rather to documents from the sphere of corporate ethics, it is a very important feature of any type of writing, as it helps materialize great yet abstract ideas by putting them on paper.

Professional Writing vs. Other Types of Writing

No doubt, these differences are quite obvious. Still, after we graduate from colleges and face real-world documents (I mean all those contracts, reports, business plans, and so on), it may appear a little difficult to consider these differences in our work.

So, what we are taught as academic writing aims to reveal and develop our analytical, critical, and research skills, as well as our ability to work with large amounts of very different information, shape personal opinions and support them with rational arguments, adapt to different genres or styles, etc.

Actually, we do need all these skills when we face the very narrow subject of professional writing. However, now you are writing a paper not to master them, but to use them with one or several of the purposes mentioned above. Now you have particular audience, area of research, requirements for composition and genre. The quality of your work is going to be assessed not with some abstract grades, but with, well, money. Sounds more motivating, doesn’t it?

Sometimes professional writing can also be confused with technical writing. The latter can be rightfully considered one of the varieties of professional writing in general. However, it is obvious that this variety refers to technical communication and hence strictly to technical fields, such as electronics, chemistry, or engineering.

Professional Writing at the Best Universities

Let’s check the list of the most prominent universities and colleges where you can study such course. Please note that this list is not full, so you can easily find many other HEIs that offer it. Besides, it would be a good idea to look for online professional writing courses provided by them.

  • University of California, the US, offers specialized program, covering various particularities of effective professional written communication.
  • Miami University, the US, also allows students to choose from many other courses, like Journalism or Linguistics, and includes the study of rhetorical theories.
  • Western Kentucky University, the US, teaches to write, edit, and publish professional papers, encouraging students to enroll in different internship programs and get real-life experience in local publishing houses or non-profit organizations.
  • Algonquin College, Canada, adds business practices and creative writing exercises to its course. By the way, it was launched in response to official demand that came from the Canadian government, media, and private industry.

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