Professional writing is writing for reward or as a profession, or writing to a standard and style demanded by a particular profession. It involves the use of clear language to convey information in a way that is easily understood by the intended audience, and may be focused on information, persuasion or to stimulate debate.
A professional writer may be freelance, or employed in an occupation where a professional writing standard is a prerequisite, such as journalism, marketing, advertising, public relations, the military, or technical writing. While not necessarily the practitioner's primary profession, professional writing skills are essential in many other fields such as law, medicine, business, engineering, and social work.
There is, particularly in business, a need for concise and unambiguous communication with colleagues, suppliers, clients and the general public. Professional writing forestalls inattentiveness and criticism.
Persuasive professional writing is connected to the concept of rhetoric, which focuses on informing or persuading and relies upon stimulating the interest of the audience through creating authoritative arguments.
Clear and concise professional writing is vital in many fields where misunderstanding could have serious consequences, such as in law, engineering, technical manuals and product labels.
Professional writing includes non-fiction or fiction for entertainment which may be in the form of essays, short stories, books, plays or screenplays across the whole range of writing genres.
- Law – case studies, briefs, client correspondence
- Marketing – advertising, market analysis, proposals
- Science and engineering – journals, technical data, manuals
- Retail – inventory reports, damage reports, data sheets, manuals, labels
- Entertainment – proposals, contracts, reviews, books
- Publishing – web content, proposals, contracts, book editing
- Military – operational reporting, orders production, policy or decision briefs, doctrine
The core skills required in professional writing are good communication, organized thought, a high standard of grammar and language, clarity and conciseness. Skills may be acquired through practise or formal learning. While many practitioners of professional writing do so as a vocation rather than as full-time employment, the element of "professionalism" is what defines professional writing. Such is the importance of professional writing in the modern world, many academic institutions offer courses up to degree level on the subject, with some tailored to specific professions such as social work.
- Professional Writing.Purdue University College of Liberal Arts. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
- Garay, Mary Sue, Bernhardt, Stephen. Expand Literacies: English teaching and the new workplace. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990. Print.
- Terk, Natasha (2010). Professional Writing Skills. Write it well. ISBN 978-0982447116.
- Tebeaux, Elizabeth (1985). Redesigning Professional Writing Courses to Meet the Communication Needs of Writers in Business and Industry. National Council of Teachers of English.
- "How to tell if you are a professional writer". Retrieved 13 December 2014.
- "Open University: Professional writing in social work". Retrieved 14 December 2014.