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ERIC Number: EJ916888
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-0047-2816
The Million Dollar Letter: Some Hints on How to Write One
Myers, Marshall
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, v34 n1-2 p133-143 2004
This article suggests ways of writing a truly effective cover letter, an extremely important document in the search for a job. First, features gleaned from 13 model letters in technical writing textbooks yield figures on the number of words, sentences, and paragraphs per letter, plus the average number of words per sentence and paragraph, information helpful to those with little or no knowledge of how to write a strong cover letter. Second, the article surveys what the textbook writers offer as advice about the rhetorical principles that should be employed in composing cover letters. One piece of advice given by almost all of the experts is that writers should try to exude an energetic attitude, yet these same authorities do not delineate just how to display such a posture in the letters themselves. Third, examination of the letters reveals that one way that experts insert verve into cover letters is to use verbals, particularly gerunds, participles, and infinitives. In fact, 92.58% of the sentences in the 13 model letters have some type of verbal in them. The advantage of employing verbals is that while they are used for other parts of speech, they still retain the residue of action in their meaning. Fourth, the article describes the results of a survey to determine the acceptance of such constructions in the minds of two sets of readers: first-year writing students and third-year technical writing students. In both groups, more than 75% of the students preferred a paragraph with verbals in it over a paragraph devoid of verbals. Finally, the article suggests "sentence combining" as a procedure for teaching technical writing students how to combine basic sentences into verbals to garner variety and economy, one of the hallmarks of technical writing.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A