RE: Business Writing Course - Any advice?

Subject: RE: Business Writing Course - Any advice?
From: Nicolette Srivastava <nicolette -dot- srivastava -at- htcinc -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 11:22:34 +0530

Mike McGuire is looking for advice regarding a business writing course.

I'm working in a US based company, but working in India. I run into this problem quite a bit with both the developers here as well as some of the technical writers.

Most professional Indians know English pretty well, but it's a mixture of British and Indian English. I would focus on a few things:

1. Spelling - if your company uses British spelling, there shouldn't be a problem. If it uses American spelling, you may need to address this.
2. Capitalization - as you pointed out, this is a relatively major issues. Indians tend to capitalize just about everything. The only way that I've been able to handle this with any success is to provide the correct rules of capitalization, and then go over LOTS of examples. Perhaps you can do some exercises and then go through them in the class.
3. Indian business writing has a distinct style and word usage of its own (i.e. use of phrases such as "thanking you" and "kindly do the needful"). I would give specific examples of how you want business letters, etc. written, pointing out clearly the differences between the Indian versions and what you use.

In my experience, I have found that just giving instructions on what to do doesn't work very well. What seems to be the clearest is to take actual writing and edit it (in front of the author) according to your standards, explaining along the way what the problems are and why. You might take several examples of each kind of writing you produce and do this.

Be sure to include plenty of reference/study materials that they can refer to after class.

Hope that helps. Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss this further.


Nicolette Srivastava
Manager, Technical Documentation
Hi Tech Consultants, Inc.
mailto:nicolette -dot- srivastava -at- htcinc -dot- com

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