Why this material is important to this audience (interpretations, costs, conclusions, other)

People in business and government write formal reports for many different purposes: proposing, problem solving, recommending, informing, explaining, describing, selling, analyzing, defending, protecting, reviewing. For this class, write a persuasive report for decision and implementation. That is, show that a problem exists and propose a solution to the problem; you might suggest a change in policy. Assume the audience to be a decision maker who is your immediate supervisor or one level higher. The workplace can be a fictional one, not your actual employer. Choose a topic that requires research: printed books and articles or articles from databases and websites, or possibly in-house documents (consult with me if you plan to use in-house documents).

The assignment gives you practice in gathering information, taking notes, planning and focusing a large formal report for an intended audience, writing and revising, and documenting sources.

This assignment also meets the objectives of several UMUC Core Learning Areas as well as all the objectives of WRTG 394.



Effective Communication

Demonstrate competence in effective writing:

  • Meet the needs of readers
  • Accomplish the writer’s purpose
  • Adequately cover the subject
  • Use expected conventions of format and organization
  • Demonstrate credible reasoning and evidence
  • Satisfy standards of style and grammatical correctness
After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • plan, organize, and write a variety of workplace documents, including business letters, memos, résumés, and reports
  • revise documents to produce a clear, concise style appropriate to audience, context, purpose, and writer’s role
  • demonstrate correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics, and apply the conventions of business writing
  • produce professional-looking business letters, memos, reports, and other documents, following standard formats
  • collect, select, analyze, interpret, and organize data, and use it appropriately in business communications, including a long formal report
  • integrate visuals, headings, and other graphics into business communications
Information Literacy/Research Competence

Demonstrate competence in information literacy standards:

  • Identify an information need
  • Articulate questions
  • Gain access to a variety of relevant resources
  • evaluate and organize the information found
  • integrate the information into an existing body of knowledge
  • use information effectively
Critical Thinking

Demonstrate the use of analytical skills and reflective processing of information

  • Determine the nature and extent of the information needed
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically
  • Incorporate information into one’s knowledge base
  • Support positions with credible reasoning and evidence
  • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
  • Use information ethically and legally

The assignment schedule guides your progress from the beginning of the semester and sets deadlines.

Your report should contain the following parts:

  • Memo or letter of transmittal (one page; can be single-spaced or double-spaced)
  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract (also called executive summary): one page; can be single-spaced or double-spaced. The length of an abstract varies in different workplaces; in this class I’m asking for a one-page mini-version of the entire report.
  • Body, with separate introduction and discussion; double-spaced. In most workplaces, the report is single-spaced; I’m asking that it be double-spaced because I have to read a lot of them in a short time.
  • List of references in APA style
  • Appendixes (if appropriate)

Minimum Requirements

  1. 2200-3000 words, inclusive of all sections of the report except appebdices; do not include the audience profile and rough draft review report in the word count.
  2. Use at least five published or Internet sources; at least one must be from a peer-reviewed journal (more is better); at least one found by the UMUC library database (one peer-reviewed source from the UMUC database can meet both of these minimum requirements).
  3. Quote sparingly; paraphrase and summarize frequently.
  4. Do not plagiarize–Cite in-text sources precisely and do not half-copy.

In addition, on a separate page of your report, complete the Audience Profile (below). (I’m sure no workplace requires an audience profile; this is a learning tool specific to this class. But if you ever write a workplace report, this is a good tool to keep in mind as you write.)

Please name the file LastnameWA4, using your own last name; for example, name the file ObamaWA4 if your name is Barak Obama.


INSTRUCTIONS: For the imagined audience of your researched persuasive report, write full explanations/commentary for each item. In addition to supplying the information for each item, consider the implications of your perceptions of your readers. Include as part of your commentary how you plan to use your perceptions of your readers in planning and writing the report. Your textbook author and the Purdue OWL sections on professional writing continually remind you of the need to tailor the content and tone of a document to the intended audience.

Turn in this completed profile form as part of Writing Assignment 4—not a separate file.

Your audience profile will be graded according to how thoroughly you respond to the following items.


Primary Reader(s) (name, title)

Secondary Reader(s) (name, title)

Relationship (client, employee, other)

Intended use/result of document

Barriers to understanding or acceptance?

Readers’ prior knowledge of topic (know/do not know background; experts, novices, other)

Additional information needed

Possible questions/objections reader(s) will have

Audience’s attitude toward topic (indifferent, skeptical, other)

Audience’s probable objections (cost, time, other)

Audience’s probable attitude toward this writer (intimidated, hostile, receptive, other)

Organizational climate (receptive, repressive, creative, other)

Persons most affected by this document

Audience temperament (cautious, impatient, other)

Probable reaction to the document (resistance, approval, anger, other)

Risk of alienating anyone


Reason document originated (audience request, legal requirement, other)

Acceptable length, amount of detail (comprehensive, concise, other)

Why this material is important to this audience (interpretations, costs, conclusions, other)

Most useful organization pattern (problem-solution, proposal, other)

Appropriate tone (businesslike, apologetic, enthusiastic, other)

Intended effect on this audience (win support, change behavior, other)

Source: Modified from John Lannon (1996), Technical Writing, 7th ed. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.



  1. Meets minimum requirements (see assignment instructions)
  2. Shows skillful application of persuasive strategies

Audience is appealed to appropriately

Argument is developed well; relevant evidence supports your claims

Image of credibility is established

Objections are anticipated and responded to


  1. Each component contains required (see instructions) and appropriate material; executive summary (one page) is a mini-version of the entire report
  2. Purpose of each section is clear and supported well
  3. Organization is clear

Follows problem-solution, proposal, or recommendation-support pattern, etc.

Separate ideas in separate paragraphs

Not organized serially by source

Contains useful headings

  1. There are helpful transitions between and within paragraphs


  1. Each paragraph has a clear topic sentence stating the main point and focusing the material
  2. Each paragraph fully supports its topic sentence with very specific material appropriate for your purpose and audience: details, examples, reasons and explanations, evidence


  1. Sentences are well-written: emphatic, condensed, varied in structure, fluent


  1. Words are specific, precise, concrete, accurate; voice is consistent and appropriate for audience


  1. Graphics (if used) are designed well; data are relevant to recommendations


  1. Sources are handled well:
  • good selection of reliable material to support recommendation
  • few direct quotes, accurate paraphrasing and summarizing, no plagiarizing
  • sources are correctly cited in APA style in the text of the report
  • correct bibliography format in APA style


  1. There are no errors


  1. Your audience profile will be graded according to how thoroughly you respond to the topics and how well your report reflects the audience analysis.
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