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Course and Contact information

Mary Adams, Instructor
Office phone: x3929 (but email works better)
Office: Coulter 418

Use this email address to contact me: madams@wcu.edu
English 303 meets TR from 12:30-1:45 in Coulter 105.
Office hour: 11-12 on TR of by appointment

Course Description

This class focuses upon writing as a career choice. It will address opportunities and practices in professional writing, development of professional writing and editing skills, and preparation of manuscripts for publication. The course will teach editing and writing practices, various stylistic skills (predominantly those pertaining to various genres), and techniques for succeeding as a professional writer.


Professional Writing Program Goals:

Students will use primary and secondary sources to write at a professional level appropriate to the completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree; specifically, they will:

  • Write in a grammatically correct, error-free style.
  • Incorporate a writing style appropriate to the writing situation and audience.
  • Incorporate primary and secondary sources properly as needed in a writing situation.
  • Understand and use a range of discipline-specific style manuals (AP, MLA, Chicago, Microsoft, Web).
  • Demonstrate—in writing—knowledge of libel law.
  • Demonstrate—in writing—the ability to use proper professional formats (for example, business documents, reports, and other professional documents).
  • Gain prociency in a range of technologies needed to produce professional writing.
  • Learn to be good readers and editors of the work of others.
ENGL 303 Course Goals:

Students will:

  • Learn about the fields and opportunities available to professional writers
  • Learn and apply common proofreading techniques and technologies— particularly editing by hand using prooreading symbols and editing electronically using Word and Acrobat—effectively and correctly
  • Learn to select and use a range of industry style guides and to create a project style sheet
  • Conceive a group project, conduct interviews, write and edit pages, and edit the project for the Internet
  • Create and appropriately edit common professional and technical documents
  • Create professional and technical documents using
    • Appropriate style
    • Concise and clear language
    • Use appropriate editing technologies
    • Understand fundamental legal issues associated with professional document creation and editing
  • Gain a rudimintary knowledge of HTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
  • Begin a web portfolio of workplace writing, including a resume. This portfolio should be a starting place. Make sure to add to it throughout your writing career.

Required Texts

  • Rental: Oliu, Walter, et al. Writing that Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job. Tenth Edition (includes 2009 MLA & 2010 APA updates ISBN-13: 978-0-312-69217-9). New York: Bedford St Martin's 2010.
  • Purchase: Goldstein, Norm, editor. Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, most recent addition.
  • Purchase: Anderson, Laura. McGraw-Hill's proofreading handbook.


  • Editing assignments and proofreading assignments 20%
  • Exams and quizzes (common throughout the semester) 20%
  • Individual document creation (memos, letters, press releases, technical documents) 25%
  • Web and text version of resume 10%
  • Portfolio with all writings plus resume 10%
  • Attendance and Participation 10%


Attendance policy

This class meets twice a week, so I begin lowering your grade by one letter after four missed classes. That includes excused or unexcused absences; I don't care why you're absent. However, here are some good tips regarding attendance:

  • Don't schedule doctor's appointments during my class.
  • Don't schedule makeup classes or exams for other instructors during my class.
  • Don't shedule rehearsals, trips home, family reunions, or trips to see your significant other during my class.
  • Don't leave my class before it is over or arrive more than 10 minutes after it has begun. I count those as absences.
  • Frequent lateness equals an absence.
  • Try to save your absences for illness and emergencies.
  • Above all, find out what you missed and what's required for the next class. You are responsibe for all missed material. I don't like emails asking if you missed anything.

I do excuse university absences when I am required to do so (university sponsored trips, etc.) but I expect you to find out what you missed and do the work you missed.

Digital incivility

You may use an ebook reader in my class, but please don't use a computer, phone, or laptop for anything else. Turn your phones off and put them away (not in your lap or on your desk). If I discover that you're on Facebook, email, texting, browsing, or using any digital resources except for our textbook, I will mark you absent and ask you to leave.

If you need to use a computer to take notes or if you have a disability that requires the use of certain tools, please let me know in advance.

I reserve the right to check your computer's screen to make sure you're following my policy. If you put it away when I try to look at it, I will assume you are breaking my rules and will mark you absent and ask you to leave.

Academic integrity policy and process

This policy addresses academic integrity violations of undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students should read inside the parenthesis below to identify the appropriate entities in charge of that step of the process.

Students, faculty, staff, and administrators of Western Carolina University (WCU) strive to achieve the highest standards of scholarship and integrity. Any violation of the Academic Integrity Policy is a serious offense because it threatens the quality of scholarship and undermines the integrity of the community. While academic in scope, any violation of this policy is by nature, a violation of the Code of Student Conduct and will follow the same conduct process (see ArticleVII.B.1.a.). If the charge occurs close to the end of an academic semester or term or in the event of the reasonable need of either party for additional time to gather information timelines may be extended at the discretion of the Department of Student Community Ethics (DSCE).

Violations of the Academic Integrity Policy include:

  • Cheating - Using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise.
  • Fabrication – Creating and/or falsifying information or citation in any academic exercise.
  • Plagiarism - Representing the words or ideas of someone else as one’s own in any academic exercise.
  • Facilitation - Helping or attempting to help someone to commit a violation of the Academic Integrity Policy in any academic exercise (e.g. allowing another to copy information during an examination)

Any violation of the Academic Integrity Policy will result in no less than failure of the assignment and, if aggregious enough, failure of the course. I report all violations to Student Community Ethics. I am required to meet with you to discuss any violations,and will withold your grade until you have attended that meeting and signed all required forms.

WCU instructors reserve the right to use plagiarism prevention software (such as SafeAssignment.com), library resources, as well as Google, Yahoo, and/or other Internet search engines to determine whether or not student papers have been plagiarized. With plagiarism prevention software, instructors may upload student papers into a
searchable database or teach students how to upload their own work as part of the course requirements.

Disability statement 

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Western Carolina University is committed to providing equal educational opportunities for students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions.  Students who require reasonable accommodations must identify themselves as having a disability and/or medical condition and provide current diagnostic documentation to Disability Services.  All information is confidential.  Please contact the Office of Disability Services for more information at (828) 227-3886 or lalexis@wcu.edu  You may also visit the office’s website:  disability.wcu.edu 

Using the proofreading handbook

When assigned a chapter, you should

  • Read the chapter. (I suggest taking notes on material covered.)
  • Complete the Checkup exercises as you read. (While I will not grade these, they will help you remember and practice the material covered.)
  • Keep track of problems you have so that we can discuss in class
  • You may want to take the “Pretest” before (or even after) reading the chapter to practice.
  • You will be completing select Application Exercises and/or Electronic Modules either as in-class assignments or as homework.
  • In most classes, you will be assigned at least one of the Application Exercises to be turned in



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