Business writing courses: how can you trust them?

I'm horrified at the antiquated business writing guides and manuals that are still being used today. How could students possibly take seriously an online text that looks like that? Yet Google delivered this Brief Guide to Business Writing as result #7 when I searched for a business writing guide. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a glimpse of the monster.)

I wish I could say this is unusual. But buried on many a university's web sites are such documents, presumably still in use. See it through the eyes of 18-year-old students who research and write electronically and are married to their smartphones. They use email and text messages as their default means of communication (and so do we, for heaven's sake).

For its target audience, a document so ugly has zero credibility. The appearance would be hideous even on paper. On the web, it is positively malicious and there's no excuse.

Far worse, this is a teaching document. Students should be learning how to structure documents correctly using styles, so that every document is accessible whether online or not. But look at the source code! It is a model of bad practice, with no structure. Here's a sample:

Not an h1 or h2 in sight. Headings are just bolded or underlined—don't get me started.


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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