Welcome to your new Business Communications textbook!  When you take a communications course in college, it’s all about preparing you for the real, everyday tasks of writing and speaking in your chosen profession rather than reading literature and writing essays. Ask any professional in your field, and they’ll set you straight on the enormous importance of practical communication in the work they do. In fact, they’ll assure you that you won’t get far without workplace communication skills enabling you to apply the technical skills you’re learning in your other courses. Trust those professionals—they know what they’re talking about. You may not fully appreciate it yet, but you really need this guide to help develop those vital communication skills now and in the years ahead as you grow professionally.

This guide is free to you thanks to the people of Ontario via eCampusOntario, an initiative of the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Does this mean it’s worse than the expensive communications textbooks available? Not at all. Research shows that, compared with no-cost open textbooks, traditional commercial textbooks offer no inherent advantages that lead to greater academic success (Rockinson-Szapkiw, Courduff, Carter, & Bennett, 2013). Indeed, if an open textbook is robust and comprehensive enough, serves students’ learning needs better, and doesn’t set them back $130, then it can be better for students in every way.

A Note on Style
Whereas most commercial textbooks on communications maintain a high level of formality, this open textbook relaxes that a little to include contractions, colourful expressions, liberal use of “they” (rather than “he or she”) as a singular pronoun, and other characteristics of semi-formal or casual business writing. The idea is to model the style of a common email between work colleagues, which imitates a conversational business style of writing while still being grammatically correct. Notice in the previous sentence and section, for instance, that “email” and “internet” appear instead of the more formal, old-fashioned “e-mail” and “Internet” often used in other textbooks.

This textbook is divided into nine parts and each of the corresponding units will explore a full range of topics associated with professional communications and the workplace.

Part I: Professional Communications

  • Unit 1: Communication Skills Desired by Employers
  • Unit 2: A Diverse Skillset Featuring Communications Is Key to Survival
  • Unit 3: Communication Represents You and Your Employer
Part II: The Writing Process 1 — Preparing
  • Unit 4: Knowing Your Purpose for Writing
  • Unit 5: Analyzing your Audience
  • Unit 6: Selecting Appropriate Channels
Part III: The Writing Process 2 — Researching
  • Unit 7: Choosing a Research Methodology
  • Unit 8: Locating Credible Sources
  • Unit 9: Using Source Text: Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing
  • Unit 10: Documenting Sources using APA style
Part IV: The Writing Process 3 — Drafting
  • Unit 11: Choosing an Organizational Pattern
  •  Unit 12: Outlining Your Message
  • Unit 13: Standard Business Style
  • Unit 14: Effective Document Design
Part V: The Writing Process 4 — Editing
  • Unit 15: Substantial Revisions
  • Unit 16: Proofreading for Mechanics

Part VI: Electronic Written Communication

  • Unit 17: Emailing
  • Unit 18: Netiquette and Social Media
  • Unit 19: Texting and Instant Messaging
Part VII: Traditional Written Communication
  • Unit 20: Letters
  • Unit 21: Memos
  • Unit 22: Reports
Part VIII: Routine Messages
  • Unit 23: Information Shares, Action Requests, and Replies
  • Unit 24: Complaints and Claims
  • Unit 25: Negative Messages
  • Unit 26: Persuasive Messages
  • Unit 27: Goodwill Messages and Recommendations
Part IX: Job Applications
  • Unit 28: The Job Search
  • Unit 29: Resumes and Online Applications
  • Unit 30: Cover Letters


Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., Courduff, J., Carter, K., & Bennett, D. (2013). Electronic versus traditional print textbooks: A comparison study on the influence of university students’ learning. Computers & Education. Retrieved from



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