'College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent' Eases The Transition From High School To University - And Beyon

The principles of good writing are the same at all levels, high school, college, and beyond. They differ in how they are applied. This book highlights these key principles and shows how to use them to go from "childish" writing to "adult" wri

Literate people are literate because they have been taught how to read and write. Right? Wrong. They have been taught how to read, but many (if not most) have never really been taught how to write.

"I know, because I used to be one of them," says Philip Yaffe, a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and long-time international marketing communication consultant. "When I was in high school, I thought I knew how to write, but when I went to college, I was shocked to discover that I didn't.

"Much secondary school writing is aimed at helping students perfect their mechanical skills such as grammar, vocabulary, rhythm, syntax, etc. In college, it is assumed that students already do these things well. The task now is to use these skills to clearly, concisely, and persuasively present or defend an argument or point of view. This is where I and many of my freshman colleagues fell down," he explains.

His new book College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent attempts to rectify the problem by focusing on the truly key ideas and techniques needed to achieve these objectives.

College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent displays, explains, and provides exercises to master fundamental writing principles and practices that can be adapted to all kinds of college-level writing formats, e.g. book reviews, term papers, theses, essay exams, etc.

"What it does not do is tell you how to fit your writing into any one of these particular formats because that would defeat its purpose. Good writing is good writing, regardless of a particular format that might be imposed," Mr. Yaffe asserts. "If you truly understand and master the principles and practices explained in this book, it really won't matter what format may be imposed on your writing. The format is like the cover of a book. The essential thing is what is inside."

Because they are fundamental, the principles and practices taught in this book are also adaptable to the business and professional worlds beyond graduation.

The book is the second in a projected series all under the rubric "The Essential Ten Percent." The first book was Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent. The third book of the series, The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent, is currently in preparation for release in February. They will all be structured according to the same guiding principle.

"Unless we are professionals, we really need to know only about 10 percent of the information presented to us; yet most books assume that we need to know virtually everything. Worse, their authors often assume that we already know more about the subject than we actually do; they therefore produce tomes that are more of a hindrance than a help," Mr. Yaffe says.

"The Essential Ten Percent" series zeros in on only what casual (non-professional) users really need to know rather than mixing essential material with interesting but distracting non-essential material. As a result, a book such as College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent should meet the needs of the vast majority of readers while laying a firm foundation for those who wish to deepen their knowledge elsewhere.

Biographical Information

Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA's daily student newspaper.

He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974.

Books in "The Essential Ten Percent" Series

(at January 2012)

College-level Writing: The Essential Ten Percent

Word for Windows: The Essential Ten Percent

The Human Body: The Essential Ten Percent
(to be published in February 2012)


Other Books by this Author

The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

The Gettysburg Collection:
A comprehensive companion to The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional

Actual English: English grammar as native speakers really use it

Gentle French: French grammar as native speakers really use it

What'd You Say? / Que Dites-Vous?
Fun with homophones, proverbs, expressions, false friends, and other linguistic oddities in English and French

The Little Book of BIG Mistakes

Science for the Concerned Citizen: What you don't know CAN hurt you

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Categories: Colleges and Universities

Tags: argumentation, clear writing, college writing, concise writing, journalism, persuasive writing


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