writing skills

Questions 1–20: Select the one best answer to each question.

1. Which one of the following words is a verb?

A. Maintenance C. Cruel

B. Manufacture D. However


2. Of the following approaches to avoiding sexism in business and

technical writing, which one is likely to be most effective?

A. Avoid references to individuals.

B. Apologize for using he as a generic pronoun.

C. Use plural nouns and pronouns.

D. Use the neutral pronouns it or its.


3. What, if anything, should you do to correct the following sentence?

Our principal problem was that we had less people than necessary to obtain optimum

benefits from the program.

A. Nothing. The sentence is correct as it stands. C. Change less to fewer.

B. Change principal to principle. D. Change optimum to maximum.


4. In the sentence, “The report arrived too late to be of any value to me,” which word is a


A. report C. value

B. late D. me


5. Which one of the following sentences is most likely to engage a reader’s self-interest?

A. You’ll be happy to hear the news.

B. I have some good news to report.

C. There’s some good news to report.

D. My supervisor has told me some good news.


6. Consider the following sentence: “If you don’t file your travel report on time, you can’t

expect a timely reimbursement for expenses.” How does this sentence fail in terms of its


A. It fails to use a positive approach. C. It’s too pompous.

B. It’s too indirect. D. It fails to use inclusive language.


7. In general, on what stage of the writing process should you spend most of your time?

A. Writing your first draft C. Analyzing your audience

B. Revising your material D. Prewriting


8. In the sentence “Although the book was more than 50 years old, it still contained helpful

information,” the word Although is a(n)

A. verb.C. adjective.

B. preposition.D. conjunction.


9. Which one of the following pronouns correctly completes this sentence?

The class took _______ examinations in three separate rooms.

A. its C. his

B. their D. your




10. If you want to make your writing personal and direct, which one of the following pronouns

should you use?

A. He C. They

B. We D. You


11. Which one of the following subjects takes a plural verb?

A. Carol and Donald C. The children or the teacher

B. Either you or Denise D. Neither the top nor the bottom


12. The part of speech that answers the question “which one” is a(n)

A. preposition.C. adjective.

B. conjunction.D. adverb.


13. What is the best way to avoid misusing words in your business and technical writing?

A. Use only words you know.

B. Keep your sentences short.

C. Think in terms of your reader’s likely vocabulary.

D. Make frequent use of a dictionary.


14. In the sentence “Although Harry was concerned, the report that he wrote was overwhelmingly approved,” what word is the antecedent of the pronoun that?

A. Harry C. wrote

B. report D. approved


15. In the most general terms, your basic objective in writing a business or technical document

of any kind is to convey

A. a value.C. meaning.

B. an idea.D. understanding.


16. In the sentence “Do you know whose book is lying on the conference room table?” which

word is a preposition?

A. whose C. on

B. lying D. table


17. What type of language should you use if you’re writing to a group of Ph.D.’s?

A. Plain, clear language C. Formal language

B. Technical jargon D. Pompous language


18. One way to make your business or technical writing concrete is to use

A. words that evoke emotions.

B. facts and figures whenever you can.

C. as few words as possible.

D. vivid words to describe your subject.


19. What, if anything, should you do to correct the following sentence?

He has the ability to affect the outcome, but he’s not likely to take that chance.

A. Nothing. The sentence is correct as it stands.

B. Change ability to capacity.

C. Change affect to effect.

D. Change likely to liable.


20. Which one of the following words is an example of a first-person pronoun?

A. She C. We

B. You D. They





Questions 1–30: Select the one best answer to each question.

1. A covering memorandum should be attached to formal reports

that are sent to

A. customers.

B. the federal government.

C. shareholders.

D. someone within the company.


2. One advantage of topic outlines is that they provide

A. topic sentences for your paragraphs.

B. new ideas for your outline.

C. internal headings for your document.

D. more precise ideas.


3. The following four statements tell something about written descriptions. Which one of the statements is incorrect?

A. There is a complete paragraph for each part listed in the introduction.

B. The paragraphs in the body describe each part in greater detail than the introduction.

C. One paragraph describes several different parts.

D. Transitional clues such as first and next guide the reader.


4. Business and technical writers use abbreviations for

A. days of the week and months of the year.

B. the title of a person if it appears before the person’s name.

C. any sign and symbol used in the body of a report.

D. technical words used only occasionally in a report.


5. Reports that are very large in both size and scope usually take the form of a/an

A. formal report.C. interoffice memorandum.

B. letter.D. feasibility report.


6. Unlike memos, letters include

A. a signature above the sender’s typewritten name.

B. a general subject line.

C. indented paragraphs.

D. the sender’s name in the heading.


7. Among the various kinds of visual aids, tables are

A. the most difficult to construct.

B. the most common aid used in reports.

C. helpful for showing the relationships between two sets of data.

D. generally used to show trends in business performance.


8. When documenting your research, you should cite the sources for everything except

A. paraphrased material. C. common knowledge.

B. surveys and interviews. D. statistics from a reference book.


9. Which one of the following sentences contains a misplaced or dangling modifier?

A. Assemble the product in a well-lighted place.

B. With three children, a job, and school, my wife has little spare time.

C. When prepared correctly, the garden spot should need no further fertilizing.

D. Walking down Main Street, the cramp in my foot got worse.


10. Progress reports usually report on work that is

A. about to begin but not yet started.

B. currently being done but not yet completed.

C. finished and completed in the previous year.

D. recently finished and completed.


11. Technical instructions are almost always written for

A. technicians and line workers.

B. middle managers and supervisors.

C. people who purchase the machinery.

D. people who need to evaluate the machinery’s efficiency.


12. Jargon, or specialized words, should be used only when you

A. don’t know who your reader is. C. are writing for your CEO.

B. are writing to someone familiar with it. D. have a dictionary nearby.

13. Which one of the following items is included in almost all types of informal reports?

A. Final recommendations C. Summary of work completed

B. Description of the investigation D. Statement of the problem


14. A summary or abstract enables your readers to

A. get a quick overview of your report.

B. test the accuracy of your findings.

C. assess the cost effectiveness of your recommendations.

D. test your writing ability.


15. What is the main advantage of sentence outlines?

A. They are easier to write than topic outlines.

B. They supply you with internal headings.

C. They can be used in your table of contents.

D. They supply you with topic sentences for your paragraphs.


16. The table of contents in a formal report is composed of

A. first-level headings only.

B. those headings you deem most useful.

C. all internal headings.

D. whatever information you think is important.


17. The main difference between technical descriptions and literary descriptions is that

technical descriptions lack

A. details.C. irrelevant information.

B. emotional appeal.D. interest.


18. The major information sources you use in a report may include any of the following except

A. tests and experiments you’ve performed.

B. published material you’ve consulted.

C. your own personal experiences and observations.

D. the opinions of your coworkers.


19. Status reports are distinguished from progress reports primarily by their focus on the

A. absenteeism of personnel.C. solution to a problem.

B. description of an investigation.D. present conditions.


20. Unlike most reports, informal and formal proposals must

A. be logical.

B. clearly organize all information.

C. persuade readers toward the writer’s point of view.

D. present a solution to a problem.


21. Which one of the following statements shows appropriate netiquette?


B. “Don’t know when you’ll get around to this since you never seem to be in the office.”

C. Including a specific subject line

D. Sending an e-mail of five monitor screens

22. Suppose you’re writing a description of an object or a process. How many pararaphs

should you include in your introduction?

A. One C.Three

B. Two D.As many as you choose


23. To make your writing concrete and specific, you should use

A. words that encompass many meanings.

B. facts and figures wherever possible.

C. words that are emotional and therefore “real.”

D. as few words as possible.


24. When you’re writing instructions, it’s almost always helpful to

A. include a table of contents.

B. include an illustration.

C. explain why one method is better than another one.

D. show how much time and money the process will save the company.


25. When writing a technical article, it’s usually best to pick a topic that is

A. profitable.C. interesting to you.

B. appealing to firms who may hire you.D. minimally time consuming.


26. When composing technical or procedural manuals, always use

A. medium-sized sentences and paragraphs.

B. medium-sized sentences and short paragraphs.

C. sentences and paragraphs whose sizes vary for interest and readability.

D. consistently short sentences and paragraphs.


27. An effectively written sentence usually

A. starts with it is or there are to keep the beginnings similar.

B. includes passive construction that makes sentences direct.

C. ends with a direct object to provide readers with closure.

D. uses active voice with a clear subject and verb.


28. The best way to ensure that you use words correctly is to

A. use only simple words that you understand completely.

B. look up unfamiliar or difficult words every time you’re in doubt.

C. invest in a pocket dictionary.

D. hire a secretary.


29. In a paragraph, where does the controlling idea usually appear?

A. In the first sentence C. In the middle of the paragraph

B. In the second sentence D. In the last sentence


30. What can you do to increase the chances your technical article will be considered for publication?

A. Include in your cover letter how much time it took you to write the article.

B. Offer the editor a commentary on what you found helpful in the publication.

C. Include borders and artwork on your manuscript.

D. Review recent issues of the publication.