Textbook Policies

The Professional Writing Committee examines available textbooks for each of the three courses every two or three years to select a limited number for use in these courses. These limited lists of approved texts help provide some consistency in approach and coverage from section to section of the courses and serve as a quality check on the large number of diverse texts that are available.

The texts on the approved lists have been selected because they are compatible with our Course Goals. They also provide some diversity in pedagogical methods for meeting those goals, to accommodate teachers with different styles and preferences.

Teachers of 331, 332, and 333 should use one of the texts on the approved list. However, it is also helpful to have teachers try out promising new books as they are published. If you wish to use a book that is not on this list, please consult with the Director of Professional Writing about the book and your plans for testing it out. When you do field-test an alternate text, the Professional Writing Committee will request a report to use in considering subsequent revisions to the textbook list.

Copies of the approved textbooks and instructor’s manuals are available for examination in the Resource Library in Tompkins131-B; the program assistant in that office can help you get your own desk copies.

Remember, it is important to list information about your textbooks, including price, on the syllabus.


Approved Textbooks: ENG 331 (March 2017)

  • Anderson, Paul V. Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach, 9th ed.
    • Thompson/Wadsworth, 2017. 560 pages. Publisher’s Website.
      • Strong reader-centered approach includes practical attention to workplace contexts; instruction organized around guidelines and then applied to basic genres. Coverage of ethics, collaboration, international communication, computers, graphics. Includes discussion of computer and internet communication, website and screen design, and collaborative writing; annotated sample documents. Free web resources for instructors and students at the address above.
  • Markel, Mike. Technical Communication, 11th ed.
    • Macmillan, 2016. 729 pages.
      • The author covers the main issues that a teacher would need to cover: writing for your audience, preparing visuals, writing help, grammar guidelines, documentation guidelines, and typical project guidelines and samples. The sections on preparing visuals, grammar, documentation, and ESL help are strong. They are concise and hit the high spots writing teachers see most often. The other major strength is that it really seems to be a one-stop shop for everything a writing teacher would need. It has sample work to review, exercises for class (if you’re teaching face to face or hybrid), and interesting tutorials. Supplementation could be useful, but might not be necessary with this book.Overall Recommendation: This text would be very useful for new teachers starting out with technical communication classes, or for teachers who only want to use one book.
  • Zwickel, Steven and William Sanborn Pfeiffer. Pocket Guide to Technical Presentations & Professional Speaking.
    • Pearson, 2006. ISBN: 0131529625. 272 pages. Publisher’s catalog page.
      • It is a compact book that is beautifully designed and highly “readable.” Information is well organized and well presented. The authors provide excellent examples throughout. They provide examples of outlines, structures, graphics, slides, evaluation tools, and more. This book covers everything from how to do research for a presentation (using up-to-date resources), how to organize a presentation, how to prepare a presentation for a specific purpose, how to develop good PowerPoint presentations, and more.
      • It provides excellent advice. When I think back on all of the questions my students have ever asked about presentations – all the answers are there. It includes one of the best sections on handling anxiety that I have read. (Notes by Julia Helo).

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Approved Textbooks: ENG 332 (Feb 2009)

  • Alred, Gerald J, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. OliuThe Business Writer’s Handbook, 9th ed.
    • Bedford St. Martin’s, 2005.
      • Covers many topics in very concise way. Very accessible information: Alphabetically organized entries with color tabs, comprehensive index, contents by topic, checklist of writing process, model documents and figures by topic
      • Teaches MLA style based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition, 2003
      • Includes every business topic we cover: job search and application, presentations and meetings, correspondence including all kinds of letters and memos (bad news, reference, sales, complaint, collections, etc.), international correspondence, designs and visuals, business plans, proposals, reports, promotional writing, mission statements, policies and procedures, writing for the web, instant messaging, email, forms, research and documentation, methods of development and organization, ethics, blogs, collaborative writing, logic errors, outlining, and more. The model documents are very well designed and modern.
      • Digital tips includes sections on conducting meetings at a distance, creating an index, creating templates, track changes, ASCII resumes, user testing, and wikis for collaborative documents.
      • Includes a section on ESL trouble spots and tips. Also has 60 pages on style and language, usage, sentences and paragraphs, parts of speech and grammar, commonly misused words and phrases, and punctuation and mechanics. (Notes by Jamie Sue Teator).
  • Locker, Kitty O. Business and Administrative Communication, 6th ed.
    • McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2002. ISBN 0-07-25513-8. Cloth. Instructor’s Manual, CD-ROM, PowerPoint, and videos also available. See website. Also see publisher’s catalog description.
      • Thorough coverage of standard topics. Lots of teaching apparatus (examples, exercises, cases, transparencies, etc.) that actually works in class; good coverage of language issues relevant to gender, ethnicity, disability. Scenarios and quotations from business situations add realism. Good for new instructors. (notes by Carolyn Miller)
  • Locker, Kitty and Steve Kaczmarek. Business Communication: Building Critical Skills.
    • McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2003. ISBN: 0-07-286571-7. Paper. See website. Also see publisher’s catalog description.
      • A new textbook by the author of the popular Business and Administrative Communication, which is still on our list for those who prefer it. The Professional Writing Committee thought that this new book would be more flexible and easier to use, while retaining the audience-focused approach of the older book. Many supplements available: CD-Rom, website, videos, PowerPoint demonstrations. See the websites for details. (notes by Carolyn Miller)
  • Oliu, Walter E., Charles T. Brusaw, and Gerald J. Alred. Writing That Works, 8th ed.
    • St. Martin’s Press, 2003. ISBN 0-312-40853-6. Publisher’s catalog description.
      • Sound rhetorical approach and clear presentation of concepts; includes good examples and exercises for in-class activity, homework, and longer projects. New edition includes material on workplace technology, graphics, ethics, intercultural communication, “Voices from the Workplace” interviews, including entry-level employees. Might be especially good for summer sessions. (reviewed by Cindy Haller, updated by Carolyn Miller.)

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Approved Textbooks: ENG 333 (April 1996)

  • Gastel, Barbara and Robert A. Day, How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. 8th ed. Greenwood Press, 2016.
    • ISBN: 978-1440842801
      • Focus on the research report and includes short but not very helpful chapters on the oral presentation and the poster. Chapters on tables, graphs, and figures are the most helpful for students; they offer truly good advice. May be useful the first time through the course, but discussions are abbreviated and presented in an annoying, off-hand, good-ol’-boy style. (reviewed by Mike Carter based on 4th edition)
  • Hofman, Angelika. Scientific Writing and Communication: Papers, Proposals, and Presentations. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2014.
    • ISBN: 978-0199947560
      • “It is an excellent book with tons of good examples and exercises. The content is well suited for an undergraduate audience. The only shortcomings are in the lack of material on writing for general audiences and in the minimal attention to plagiarism/ethics […] I would recommend the book for new teachers because of the clarity with which it is written and the many helpful exercises on scientific style, writing research reports and other documents, etc. It is short on substantial examples of the longer professional documents (and it doesn’t have casebooks), but it does include the examples of important sections of these documents” (Review by Daun Daemon)
  • Katz, Michael J. Elements of the Scientific Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students and Professionals. Yale University Press, 1985.
    • ISBN: 0-300-03532-2.
      • A quick guide to the basic IMRAD format of the research report. Based on a single extended example, but discussion surrounding this example is very brief. Focus is on life sciences, specifically neurobiology. If supplemented with examples from other fields, this text could be used in the unit on research reports. (reviewed by Nancy Penrose.)
  • National Academy of Sciences. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research. National Academy Press, 1995.
    • ISBN 0-309-05196-7.
      • Excellent introduction to science as a social and rhetorical enterprise, from a source with high credibility for students. Several of us regularly begin the course with a discussion of this 25-pagebooklet. Focus on ethical issues such as the allocation of credit, conflicts of interest, error and negligence, avoiding bias in the interpretation of data. Highly recommended. (reviewed by Nancy Penrose.)
  • Penrose, Ann M. and Steven B. Katz. Writing in the Sciences: Exploring Conventions of Scientific Discourse. Pearson Custom Publishing 2001 (previously published by Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998).
    • ISBN 0-536-63016-X.
    • Second Edition. AB Longman, 2004. ISBN 0321-11204-0. Available 12/29/03 for spring classes.
      • Explains science as a social enterprise, with ethical implications. Instruction in major genres (research reports, conference papers and posters, proposals, public communication) is based on comparative discourse features. Involves students in discovering the specific discourse conventions and expectations of their own disciplines. Includes four sample research cases in physical, biological, and geological-interdisciplinary sciences. New chapter covers procedure writing in laboratory and QA contexts. (reviewed by Carolyn Miller.)

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Possible Supplements

Some teachers find these book useful as substitutes or supplements for a comprehensive textbook.

  • Alred, Gerald J., Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu. The Technical Writer’s Handbook. 6th edition.
    • St. Martin’s Press, 2000. ISBN 0-312-19804-3. Spiral-bound. Instructor’s Manual ISBN 0-312-20846-4. No website or supplements. See the publisher’s catalog description.
      • A reference manual with over 500 alphabetical entries plus topical key, index, and writer’s checklist. Includes models of reports, proposals, correspondence, visuals etc. New edition features expanded coverage of workplace technology, electronic texts, and online research, For experienced instructors who can supply their own course design, exercises, and instruction.
      • Also available in a shorter edition that might be more appropriate as a supplementary text, The Technical Writer’s Companion, 2nd ed (1999); see publisher’s description. (notes by Carolyn Miller)
  • Lanham, Richard. Revising Business Prose, 4th ed.
    • Allyn & Bacon, 2000. ISBN 0-205- 30944-5. Paper. See publisher’s catalog description.
      • A guide to sentence revision using the “paramedic method.” Lots of examples, sound rationale. Video and exercises available. (reviewed by Judi Gaitens)

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Textbook Orders

Each semester, you will receive a personalized ordering link from the NCSU bookstore. Textbook orders are usually needed by March 15 for summer sessions, April 5 for fall, and October 15 for spring semester. If you cannot meet these deadlines or wish to change an order, you should contact the NCSU Bookstore.

You will need the following information when ordering or changing an order: course and section numbers, titles and authors, ISBNs, whether cloth or paper is acceptable, whether the text is required or options, and anticipated course enrollment.

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