Technical Communications Toolbox
Interested in teaching yourself or your students how to improve their professional writing skills? The Technical Communications Toolbox is intended to help students write clearly and concisely, regardless of their specialty, for a variety of audiences. Regardless of the audience, being clear, accurate and complete is key, and these tips and tricks will help any engineer meet that standard.
Remember, all written documents (paper and digital) are a permanent record. They may become a legal record as well. Always be clear, accurate and complete in your writing.
You are not just writing to be understood, you are writing to be not misunderstood.Professor Jack Breen,University of Texas at Austin, July 2000
- Use complete sentences and punctuation.
- Professional, formal language (not overly familiar or casual; no slang).
- Include a subject.
- Include a salutation or greeting.
- Include time and location when discussing meetings.
- Include your contact information.
Professional Email Example
Unprofessional Email Example
- Tailor your resume to fit a specific position: use keywords, prioritize relevant experience, and highlight transferable skills
- Always put the most important and relevant information first on your resume. If you think that your related work experience is more impressive than the degree you are pursuing, then list that first. This pertains to your bullet points as well: make sure your descriptions are in order of importance and relevance.
- Avoid resume templates as they limit creativity, are easily spotted by employers, and often are rejected or corrupted by company websites.
- A one page document is preferred for a new college graduate. If your experience warrants it, two pages may be acceptable, but please utilize the full two pages.
- Proofread your resume, carefully checking for grammar and spelling errors
- Be consistent with format, style, font, spacing, and punctuation
- Fill the entire page and avoid white space
- Revise your resume and have others edit it
- Typos and grammatical errors: THESE ARE VERY BAD! You must review your document thoroughly.
- Inconsistent formatting: make your style, punctuation and verb tenses the same throughout.
- Abbreviations: spell out acronyms (MSA, iCOMM, etc) and other abbreviations (St. to Street, etc).
- Hobbies or interests: keep your document focused on experience and academics.
- “I”, “me”, “we” statements: start each phrase with an action verb.
- Large amounts of white space: résumés should be 1 full page (preferred), 2 full pages if necessary.
- Templates: these limit creativity, are easily spotted, and often are rejected by company websites.
- Personal info: date or place of birth, gender, marital status, race or religion (for U.S. resumes).
MU Career Center