The immediate task facing every student of English is to be proficient in the language. Having taught English at secondary and higher education levels for years, I have been able to identify the basic challenges facing this set of learners in the writing of English and other related courses. Technical Report Writing is designed to guide students and other learners of English in the different approaches to writing. These other learners include: business people, entrepreneurs, technicians, civil servants, professionals and other individuals who thirst for competence in oral and written English.
Chapters 1 to 5 are centered on effective writing techniques: correspondence, reports, use of library, comprehension, précis and summary. The focus is shifted to interactive and citerary appreciation in chapter 6. This introduces the reader to different genres of Literature. It also discusses the relevance of literature in language and in communication.
Writing is an art. Written communication depends on it. When written communication was long hand, it was not an easy task and demanded apprenticeship. The effect of unskillful writing is either that one writes what he did not mean or meant what he did not write. Indeed, writing is an art with few masters when judged from the point of view of content, organisation, expression or mechanics.
The situation has grown worse with the advent of information and communication has turned the world into a global village. The computer has, witrh its robotic intelligence, made exerising one’s intelligence a tortuous exercise. Few have the patience to indulge in thinking inwardly, reducing it to writing and subjecting it to peer review. The result is that the children write in badly thought-out horrifying abbreviations, acronyms and neologisms that are obscure and incomprehensible. The after-effect is that they can neither learn to write well, write skillfully, nor present their thought in acceptable formal style.
A text on the rubrics of writing for different occasion is therefore needed to take the writer especially the candidate-wriiter preparing for examinations, applying for job or doing technical report on the job and teach the nuances of so doing. Technical Report Writing, I believe, could not have come at a better time than this. The topics are many and varied; the language is simple and readable; the technics aree vividly laid out and the differences between the styles of writing for occasions are skillfully outlined that they are obvious.
I therefore recommend it to the general reading public but most especially to the candidates preparing for examinations, on the job reports and who desire to imbibe the art of technical writing and escape from the alliteracy associated with the computer assisted intelligence.
B.M. Mbah, Ph.D, M.A., LL.B (Hons), B.A. (Hons.), B.A. (Hons.) [Nig],PGDE [Jos], B.L. (Kano)
University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of contents
Use of Library
Comprehension and Interpretation
Precis and Summary
Paragraph development is positive approach to essay writers, and in the other hand invaluable because, at one level at least, an essay is a collection of paragraphs. An essay therefore is more than this, of course it is the deliberate development in clear, well reasoned prose of one or more ideas through several paragraphs to achieve a desired effect upon a known audience, the effect being the reader’s understanding of and respect for the writer’s point of view on a given topic. Since an essay is longer and more complex than paragraph, then, an essay requires more planning, more sustained control of ideas and a greater knowledge of techniques for expressing and “flashing out” skeletal ideas.
Pre-writing is all the preparation which you the writer must make before you begin to write the first draft of your essay. Pre-writing is a series of interrelated steps which enables you not merely to organize your material in the most effective way to suit your topic but, more importantly, allows you to decide upon the direction your paper will take long before you write it. The pre-writing steps are:
1. Selecting a topic
2. Forming a point of view
3. Searching for fact
4. Analyzing and arranging the facts
5. Drawing up an outline
Selecting a Topic
Whether you are given a topic or asked to find one, you should remember the following.
a. Choose a topic that you know something about. May be you select “unemployment” above “crude oil theft” because you feel that there are countless instances of rising inflation around you and you have some suggestions for curbing it.
b. Make sure you choose a topic that you find interesting. Your interest is infectious and it will be readily communicated to your reader. If you don’t find the subject of “unemployment” or crude oil theft interesting, then try other ideas as possible.
c. You should choose a topic that you can handle adequately in the time and space allowed. What is appropriate for a term paper for which you are allowed several months and many hundreds of words is certainly not appropriate for a 500 words essay required in a week’s time. In the letter case, instead of “The role of Education in a developing nation” you would do better with topic such as:
· Corporal punishment in secondary schools
· Effect of adult education into Nigeria Education
· Important of Western education in our society today
Forming a Point of View
Here there are little technically involved. Whatever the topic you choose, you should form a point of view about it. In other words, you should decide what, in essence, you want to say about your topic. “Some Discipline Problem in Secondary Schools”. After some thought, some milling over of ideas relevant to the topic such as secondary schools, kinds of discipline problems, reasons for and effects of discipline problems, you might decide that in your essay you will show that:
1. Discipline problems in secondary schools stem from the home or
2. Indiscipline in secondary schools reflects indiscipline in society.
3. Discipline problems in secondary schools destroy the teacher pupil relationship, undermine respect and authority and above all, rob the students of a decent education.
There are potentially as many points of view as there are students in a class, though many points of view will be close to each other. The important thing is that you should think about your topic until you discover what you want to say about it. Your point of view will then become the heart of the essay, as it were, and all you write by way of reasons, illustrates and details will be directed to making the point of view clear. As soon as you have formed a point of view, you should write it down as simply as you can in one sentence. This sentence is called a thesis statement and the thesis statement will help you judge which ideas you should admit as relevant to your topic and which ideas you should exclude as irrelevant.
Searching for Facts
With topic and point of view fixed in your mind, you may search for supporting facts from two sources: the private source of your own direct experiences and the public source of books of your own direct experiences and the public source of books, magazines, articles and reports, oral or written. The private sources is nearly always enough to cope with most short essay assignment. That is, you have enough in your background and in your environment to draw ideas, illustrations and attitudes necessary for essay writing. Of course, wide reading increases your store of general information while lively awareness of your environment increases your stock of examples.
In searching for facts for the short essay, you should job down as quickly as possible on a blank sheet paper all your ideas about the topic and point of view. The jotting must be quick with on time spent in determining whether particular ideas are good relevant or correct. The more quickly you write the more ideas you will think of, for psychologist tell us that by association one idea will trigger another, if the flow of ideas is uninterrupted.
Another aid to generating ideas is to bombard the topic with questions, what, when, where, how, why. For example, the following are some of the questions you might ask if your topic and thesis statement are shown.
Analyzing and Arranging Facts
Since you cannot depend upon having listed your ideas in my order, you must now scrutinize your list and arrange your ideas into groups that will represent major ideas in your essay. Irrelevant ideas must go. Ideas that stand alone without much else to support them should either be developed more fully, if possible, incorporated into some other group entirely.
Drawing up an Outline
Arranging and ordering your ideas in groups in this way amounts to an outline. With the inclusion of the thesis statement and the headings, introduction and conclusion, this short outline would be sufficient of enable you to write a clear and coherent essay in which ideas, amply supported, are introduced in their proper places. For longer essays, you should draw up a fuller outline indicating major ideas, secondary ideas and details.
Writing is considered one of the fundamental processes of an educated and literate individual. It also give them an opportunity to showcase their individual proficiency in the art. Albeit, this is the generation of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), e-mail and many other forms of information, communication and technology, you still must master the art of letter writing. You write your parents/guardians, siblings, friend/well-wishers, relations; you write to schools/colleges, institutions, companies and other business organizations.
The letter is one of the most regular kinds of writings. Okenwa (2000) notes:
“Easily, the most popular form of writing is the letter. Surprisingly, this form is also easily the least understood and most abused of all the form of writing. Even literature and non-literate users of this form have been known to by claims to its matery by virtue of the fact that it is more commonly used means of communication.
You do not study the art of writing letters for test or examination purposes only; rather you write for many other reasons: to notify, to keep in touch, to convey greetings, wishes and regards. Thorough letter writings you could send congratulatory messages, invitations, complaints: you apply for jobs or scholarship awards, request. Permissions of all kinds: you order for goods, et cetera.
Many author, of one, Oh Teik Bin, observes that many people love to receive letters but not many have learnt to like letter-writing. It will be of your benefit if you develop the art of letter-writing. Write to your family members, friend and well-wishers, and other relations. Write to companies/firms, corporate bodies and the press to request for information or to express your views, opinions and suggestions. For so doing, you will learn how to write letters and will learn to love this art in future. For individuals that knows how to write, it is a complete joy to be able to express your thoughts and ideas in writing. A sense of satisfaction it will be seeing your letter in print.
Another choler, Bel-Molokwu (1997, p. 106) state:
“Letter constitute a very powerful means of communication and have become one very important means of record-keeping in business because the writer has an opportunity to organize properly his thoughts while writing a letter, the contents of letters are more reliable. But the beauty of the letter is that it makes for easy referencing. It also makes for more effective communication in business. Consider what business management, organization and control would be without letters.
ARE YOU WRITING TO WHOM
-An old relation/friend
-An old relation/friend
A person you do not know
You must understand that if the receiver is in any way displaced with your letter, it may not achieve any purpose. No parent (father or mother) will send money to daughter or son who letters offends him or her; an employer is hardly likely to offer an appointment to someone whose application is below the expected standard : a letter writing may cause very serious misunderstanding among friends, siblings or relations. When writing a letter, we must constantly keep in mind the person we are writing to. The more conscious we are of this, the more likely we are to make our letter just right for that person (Slitton 1981 p.3)
Some Vital Aspects of Letter Writing
i) Writing out the addresses and the date
ii) Ways of greeting
iii) Ways of opening and closing
In oral communication, from the tone of speakers voice, you could fathom whether he is addressing a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger or an elder. Just like a speech, a letter has tone and it is from this that one could identify the kind of relationship between the writer or transmitter (Tx) and the recipient or receiver (Rx) of the letter.
Tone therefore is largely a matter of words – its use and its arrangement in sentences. In a letter, it can be indicated by the amount of personal detail you include:
1. If the tone of a letter is informal or familiar, you would expect a lot of personal detail.
2. If the tone is formal or distant, you expect little or no personal detail.
Grieve and Pratt note that the tone of a letter:
a) Reflects the attitude of the transmitter the receiver
b) Reflects the relationship between the transmitter and recipient or receiver.
c) Reveals the transmitters’ awareness of the etiquette of written communication.
When you choose the wrong form of expression, it is very easy to make the tone quite different from what you had intended to write, a bad impression is possible created.
a. Avoid high-sounding and wordy expressions.
b. Be straightforward, precise and simple, because in letters you want to be understood quickly and easily. In English, people think that those who use pompous words and phrases in their writing or trying to show off their knowledge.
c. There are certain fixed rules of grammar, sentence structure and punctuation you must observe to avoid passing on a different meaning from the one you intended.
TYPES OF LETTER
There are three types of letter writing, they are:
i) Official or formal Business Letter
ii ) Semi-formal Personal letter
The personal letter is made up of the semi-formal and the informal letters respectively.
1. Business Letter
A business letter is the one you write to officials, business firms, institutions, corporate organizations.
Albeit some businesses can be done through other means of communication such as the telephone and direct personal contact, they still have to be backed up with a letter, to prevent misunderstanding.
When you write a business letter, you should note that:
i) Your letter is being sent to an official or a staff of an organization, not to a particular person or individual in his or her confined capacity. For example, the head of school, agency or institution, a manager, a director.
ii) The official your is addressed to is interested to know about the matter that caused you to write not about your personal life.
iii) The recipient is not bothered about your praises or concern over the state of his or her health or that of the family.
TYPES OF BUSINESS LETTER
Jame et al (2006, p. 86) identify some forms of business correspondence.
i) Information Letters
This type of letter enquires about information, collects or supplies it. Such letters include:
A company, through sales letters, announces or advertises the goods and services it offers.
By this, the letter projects the image of the products or people in the organization. Sales letters include those of:
2. Promotion of goods and services
ii) Problem Letters
Challenges and problems have always been part of business organizations, agencies, and other corporate bodies. Orders and consignments may be delayed and or not sent, payments may be delayed, goods may be damaged in transit, services may be unsatisfactory, “in most of these cases, equanimity is lost, tempers flare, mistakes are made and letters have to be written to redress the situation.
Problem letters include:
2. Collection of bills
Note: Whatever the level of grievance in a letter of complaint, avoid rudeness or sarcasm. It is believed that a good firm will put the matter right if the facts are laid before it fairly. Rudeness only makes the receiver defensive and incoperative.
iii) Goodwill Letters
Business and industry thrive on sustenance of goodwill and maintenance of mutual understanding between those businesses and their various publics. Goodwill letters achieve this purpose: they are used to create, build and maintain a favourable opinion of people who do business with the organization.
Examples of such letters:
1. Appreciation/thank-you letters
2. Congratulatory letters
3. Consolation/condolence letters
4. Invitation letters
The Reasons for Writing Business Letters
According to Bel-Molokwu:
i) It provides the most convenient and economic means of communication
ii) It is the most reliable means of seeking and receiving information about an organization and its businesses
iii) It serves as evidence of a transaction between an organization and those (people or organization) it does business with.
iv) It makes for easy future referencing
v) It helps to create and sustain goodwill for the organization
In writing a formal letter, the following points according to Peter Little must be noted.
i. Sustainability of register to subject matter and circumstances,
ii. Friendliness and warmth of tone
iii. Selection of material and choice of wording to suit the recipient or receivers (his probable vocabulary level knowledge of the subject and its technical jargon, the type of person he seems to be et cetera.
iv. Psychological factors (tact, courtesy, special care when conveying unwelcome information – which is liable to be misunderstood simply because the recipient wants to read it in a sense of different form that which you intend)
v. Freshness of language (freedom for clichés and commercial jargon.
The business letter should be expressed in clear and exact English and should contain no errors of syntax, spelling or punctuation.
The Form of a Business Letter
A business letter consists of the following
1. Letter heading
2. Name and address of addressee recipient (Rx)
3. Date of correspondence
6. Introductory paragraph
7. Body of the letter
8. Closing paragraph
9. Subscription and Signature
a) Letter Heading
A letter head is a pre-printed stationery with the company’s or organisation’s name, logo, address, phone number, among others.
Using letterhead stationery for the first page of a letter helps create a professional image.
Letterhead performs the following functions:
i) Tells the receipient/receiver Rx who the transmitter (Tx) is
ii) Gives the transmitters (Tx) address:
iii) Gives the local and international phone number, et cetera.
iv) Lists the names and titles of the transmitters (Txs) officers.
Pink and Thomas also advise that “limited” companies must be careful to add the word ‘limited’ to their names and to give the address of the registered office. Private firms must specify on their writing paper the names of the partners and if such names have been changed, any former names, limited companies must state particulars of the directors. Branch offices of a large firm usually specify the address of the principal or head office. A plain and currently punctuated address is adequate: consider these two address is adequate: consider these two addresses
Darlington Driving Services,
30th May, 2013
Darlington Driving Services
30th May, 2013
Address ‘A’ is punctuated (closed) but address ‘B’ is open (no punctuation at the end of the lines). These are two patterns of punctuating parts of letters: the open; the ‘closed’. You are free to choose any of the two, but must be consistent.
In address ‘B’ you will observe that there are no punctuation marks at the end of each line.
A Sample Letterhead
DARLINGTON MILLING COMPANY
13 Udemezua Street Tel: 042333017
Mile 50- Enugu 042-781460
Enugu State Fax: 042-499931
Our Ref:…………………………… Date:
When a letter runs two or more pages, use letterhead for the first page only.
If an individual is writing a letter in his personal capacity, his/her name should not be included in the address
A. Nneka Chukwunwike
171 Adelaja Street
4th November, 2013.
B. 171 Adelaja Street
4th November, 2013.
v Writers name should not form part of the address as in ‘A’
v Include the name of your country if the letter is going abroad
B) Name and address of addressee or receipient (Rx)
Note: This is written at the top left-hand side after the date, at the base of the writers address.
140 Ohaozara Street
4th May, 2013.
The Sales Representative
Josbag Rubber Manufacturer
Where the officer the letter is addressed to is known by the writer, his/her name could be included. The address could be written like this:
i) The Sale Representative
Josbag Rubber Manufacturer
Attention: Mr. Mike White
ii) Mr. Mike White
The Sale Representative
Josbag Rubber Manufacturer
However, there is a risk here-in a situation where the official had ceased to be a staff of the establishment before the arrival of the letter, the letter might not receive the prompt attention it required.
Date of Correspondence
Every correspondence, business or private should have a date, for easy filling and reference. The day. Month, and year appear beneath the transmitter’s Tx’s address or (if on a letterhead) at the space provided.
‘1st July, 2013 or July 1, 2013
Note: 1st, the ‘1’, and the ‘st’ appear on the same line. The ‘st’ is not placed above the ‘1’. There should be no shift of ‘st’.
The most widely used in business letters is – ‘Dear Sir’
‘Dear Madam’, (not dear ma)
‘Dear sir/Madam’ should be sparingly used in business letters. Where the transmitter (Tx) is unsure of the gender of the Receiver/Receipient (Rx), Use Dear Sir’. Where the Transmitter (Tx) has intimate or frequent business relations with the recipient/receiver (Rx)
Where the transmitter (Tx) wishes to create a personal touch, he could use:
‘Dear Mrs. Lagbaja’
‘Dear Chief Chukwukelu’
‘Dear Professor Nkem; as the case may be.
Pink and Thomas (1981, p. 297) however caution:
Great care is necessary … The phrase should not be used without a real reason, and it should be rigidly barred if the writer has slightest suspicion that it is unwelcome; for example, if replies from the Rx invariably begin with “Dear Sir’ then a retune to the more formal mode of address would appear desirable.
Note: that a comma comes at the end of the salutation. Some other authors may prefer the colon, however. But as a rule in English and other modern languages, a comma is used to separate the receipient/receivers (Rx) of the letter from the transmitter’s (Tx’s) address.
The salutation ‘Gentlemen is not widely used in ordinary business correspondence, but is specially adapted for letters and reports addressed by an employee to his board of directors and in letters or reports addressed to a committee, public body, or local authority. It is therefore a more dignified mode of salutation than the usual ‘Dear Sirs’, and should be used whenever the writer desires to show respect for the addressees: e.g., a branch manager to his general managers, or a secretary to his board of directors. The form ‘Gents’ should never be used.
There are special forms of address for people in high offices and people with ranks. Examples are given as follows:
The president (Head of State)
My dear Mr. President
The Vice President
Mr Vice President,
My dear Mr. Vice President
Very truly yours yours faithfully
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Sir, My Dear Mr Chief Justice, My Lord,
Very truly yours yours faithfully
Governor of a state
Dear Sir, My dear Governor, Your Excellency
Very truly yours
Deputy Governor of a state
Very truly yours
Most Holy father, Your Holiness
The Most Reverend, Your grace , My Lord, Archbishop
Your Excellency, My Lord Bishop.
The Right Reverend, (Revd), Dear Sir, The Lord Bishop.
Dear father - - -,
Very truly yours
Reverend Sir, Dear Reverend, (Revd)
Very truly yours
Local Government Chairman
Mr. Chairman, Dear Sir,
d) Title (Subject Heading Caption)
The business letters have tittles. The little presents the subject matter to the reader at a glance. The receiver (Rx), on opening the letter, knows what the letter is all about first before going through the details. It also makes for easy referencing. The titles should be in capital letters, or should be underlined, where the major words are started with capital letters. Example:
i) Supply Of One Hundred (100) Copies Of Dreams From My Father By Barrack Obama
ii) Supply of one hundred (100) copies of dreams from my father by Barrack Obama
Some opinions suggest that the subject be underlined whether they are written all block or otherwise.
The expression ‘Re’: Example
Re: Request for information on sports equipment
Some schools of thought note that ‘Re’ is frequently used with the subject heading when responding to an earlier correspondence while some advocate that ‘Re’ before the word of the subject matter, title or caption of your letter should be avoided. Pink and Thomas, Suggest that ‘re’ should be confirmed to legal matters and it is better avoided in an ordinary business letter.
This introduces the matter the letter will deal with. In the reply, this paragraph will contain a reference to previous correspondence to enable the receiver (Rx) to recall the matters dealth with and facilitate the work of looking up the earlier example:
‘with reference to your letter of 3rd February, 2013, reference number MKG/vol 1/2013/12. I wish to state that - - -
‘I am writing with reference to the advertisement in “The Guardian” newspaper of Thursday 4th march, 2013’.
g) The Body if the Letter
Pink and Thomas suggest the following:
Where the letter is short and deals with only one fact or item, one paragraph is usually sufficient. If several matters are mentioned, each should be dealt with in a separate paragraph or paragraphs according to the length of each discussion.
If the letter consists of several paragraphs, they must be arranged in a logical order, with a view to presenting the fact in the best possible way.
A well-paragraphed letter, other things being equal, is both more attractive in appearance and easier to read than a letter that is merely a solid mass of handwriting or typewriting.
Contain expression help create the right tone in formal letters, while some need to be avoided.
Grieve and Praft point out that in cases of
1) Explicit acknowledgement that your needs must wait on the addressee’s convenience you could write:
1. ‘I am sorry to bother you when you are busy but…’
2. ‘I know you are very busy but…’
3. ‘When you are less busy, could you…?
4. When you have time to write could you…?
5. ‘…Whenever it is convenient for you.’
6. ‘… at any tome to suit your convenience’
2) Polite Requests:
1. ‘I should be most grateful if you could (Find time to do this)’
2. ‘It would be very much appreciated if you could(let us know)
3) Request for Reply:
It would be much appreciated
I should be most grateful
If you could
Let me know
Let me have the information
As soon as
May be convenient
1. ‘I am very sorry that I did not come …’
2. ‘I am writing to apologize for my failure to come …’
3. ‘I regret that I was unable to come.’
4. ‘I regret that I failed to come.’
5. ‘I very much regret my failure to attend.’
6. ‘ I am indeed sorry
Avoid the following
1. ‘Arrange to meet me…’
2. ‘kindly arrange the mater…’
3. Kindly do this forthwith’
Note: kindly ‘when used in structure like this doesn’t mean ‘please’, it does not soften an order to a request: it sharpens it. It is most commonly used by senior official to their juniors, especially if their juniors have seemed relevant to carryout orders.
The following are also orders:
1. You are to be here at eight
2. You are expected to report to the secretary by 7pm
The following are not requests, but statements of, probably, unjustified assumption. Ault’s do not like being addressed in this way example:
1. ‘I need your help
2. ‘I want your help’
3. ‘I know you will help me’
4. ‘I demand to know’ (this is offensive)
Do not write in any kind of letter of apology
1. It was a pity that I did not come
2. It was unfortunate that I did not come
These are not apologies in English
They create an atmosphere of causal disregard for your correspondent.
Do not be profuse in your apologies: e.g.
‘I most humbly beg you to forgive
Certain Expressions to be Avoided:
i) Bad Beginings
a) ‘I/we beg to acknowledge’
b) ‘Re: your letter of …, etc.
They are old fashioned phrases some of which originated from the idea that the tradesman was somehow socially inferior to his customer and should address them as humbly as possible
c) ‘Thanking you for your letter of 5th April’
d) ‘Please find enclosed…’
A pointless picture. If the enclosure is inside the envelop, the recipient will find it.
ii) Bad endings
Avoid bad endings which include participial phrases
a) ‘Trusting that this matter is agreeable to your highly esteemed organization.’
b) ‘Believing that this is in the interest of your companys’
c) ‘Hoping this finds you as it leaves me,’
d) ‘Assuring you of our best service at all times.’
iii) Meaningless Courtesy
These courtesies are obsolete
a) ‘Your very obedient servant’
b) ‘I remain, your obedient servant’
c) ‘Yours obedient servant’
d) ‘I humbly request to inform…’
h) Closing paragraph
Many of the phrases below have become stereotyped. Avoid them. Example:
v ‘Assuring you of our best attention at all times’
v ‘Awaiting the favour of your esteemed commands’
v ‘Thanking you in anticipation of a favourable reply’.
v ‘Soliciting a continuance of past favours’ etc,
i) The subscription and signature
The subscription depends on
v The custom or house style of the firm where the letter comes from.
v The level of relationship existing between the transmitter (Tx) and the recipient/ receiver (Rx)
The rules guiding the solution equally applies to the subscription.
Salutation and subscription must agree. For example, If you begin with ‘Dear Sir’ you must end with ‘Yours faithfully: not ‘Yours sincerely: see below.
Dear Mr Nwizu
Dear Prof. Kalu
Dear Mrs Darlington
· Your obedient servant.
A job-seeker is not the obedient servant of the person or the organization he is applying to. The signature should be written by hand, whether the letter is typed or handwritten. The name of the writer usually appears under the .
‘Per Pro’ Signatures (for and on behalf)
In large organizations, it is usually impossible for the chief executive to deal with all the correspondence, certain employees are therefore authorized to sign on behalf of the boss or the firm; ‘they are then said to sign per procurationem or per pro. The authority may result from custom (as with a secretary to a limited company), or from the execution of a Proper Power of Attorney. Unless the authority exists in some form or another, the signature should be, for example, “Jeeves and Wooster, Per J. Bertie”. Jeeves and Wooster is a company J. Bertie signs “Per Pro”
Or “For Smith & Co, Gordon Craig”
The existence of the proper authorization should always be indicated by the signature. For example:
v Per Pro. Kenworthy Limited
John Green (Pink & Thomas, 1997, p. 301).
v Yours faithful,
pp. Darlington Ventures Ltd
Joy O. Ngele (Mrs)
v Yours faithfully,
For, Chief Medical Director
v Yours faithfully,
Nneka Nwali (Mrs)
PP: Collins Akuma
By this, (Proper authorization), the recipient (Rx) will have an idea of the exact scope of the powers and responsibilities of his transmitter(Tx).
Please note that in modern practice, ‘Per Pro’ is often omitted but the designation of the signatory is indicated for the recipient (Rx) to know the exact scope of powers and responsibilities of the Tx, consider the first example above, or better still,
J.O. Emmanuela (Mrs)
Secretary to Hon. Minister for environment
For Board of Trustees
It is advisable that your little (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Dr, Prof) be included to help your recipient (Rx) identify your gender and address you properly while replying. Enclose the title in brackets, as above
You should also note the following
1. Within an organization, letters move vertically and horizontally, there are certain laid down channels for communicating messengers within the organization.
‘Hierarchy is one factor that determines not only the content, but also the routing of such letters’
In an academic institution, a staff’s letter to the Chief executive usually passes through the head of department and Dean of Faculty as the case may be. Example – see next page
Department of Languages and Linguistics
Ebonyi State University
30th May, 2013
The Vice Chancellor
Ebonyi State University
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Ebonyi State University
Department of Language and Linguistics
Ebonyi State University
2. Letters may be written in either the first person singular ‘I’ or the first person plural ‘We’ firms have their different house styles. The first person singular is the better if the Tx is the owner of the business or is merely voicing his personal opinions or the opinions of his department, if the letter is expressing the views of the firm as a whole, according to Pink and Thomas, ‘We’ is weightier than ‘I’ and it is used when the transmitter (Tx) intends to give the opinion or decision of the firm.
3. Often formal letters are written in the third person they are usually brief and they deal with a single topic. The Tx’s address and the date come after the letter (contents) not before. The recipients (Rx’s) name and address are not indicate. Example Mr. Zainab Obinna wishes to inform the manager of Ceekay publishing company, Obollo, that she would be in Aba on 5th May. She would appreciate it if arrangements where made for the books and other stationery to reach her by 4pm that day.
Chuks Blessing (Mr).
12 Udude Street
2nd June, 2013.
Remember to maintain the third person all through.
It is advisable you write your signature to make the letter authentic.
4. Sometimes, You send copies of your letter to other people and you want the recipient (Rx) to be aware of it. You list such names on the last page.
CC (originally, it meant carbon copy; now it is computer copy’)
CC: The Vice Chancellor
The ASUU chapter Chairman
ASUU: Academic Staff Union of universities
5. In a situation where you are writing union members, you may close with ‘In Solidarity’, ‘Yours in solidarity: This complimentary close helps ‘Solidify the goodwill, unity and trust members must have towards each other;
A Typical Formal Letter
14 Nwachukwu street
7th June, 2013
Island Plastic Producing Company
200 Umuahia Road
Supply of Wrong Items
I wish to complain that in my letter of 24 June, 2013. I requested for a supply of the following: One hundred (100) copies of spoken and written communication be Collins Chisom, Five hundred (500) dozens of exercise books (eighty leaves); three hundred(300) dozens of exercise books (two hundred leaves and hard cover). The consignment came on 3rd July 2013, but astonishingly, the following were delivered.
v Three hundred (300) copies of elements of literature
v Fifty(50) dozens of 2010 calendars
v Four hundred (400) dozens of 60 leaves exercise books
I guess this delivery was meant for another customer. It will be appreciated if this error is corrected and the right consignment sent to me.
Brumo Construction Ltd
c/o N.Y.S.C. Secretariat,
12 Abakaliki Road
19th may, 1980.
The Personnel Manager,
Application for the Post of Chief Structural Engineer
I am writing in response to your advertisement in the Daily Times of 19th January, 1980 for a Structural Engineer. Born in 1950, I am a native of Ibagwa in Nsukka Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am married and I have three children.
I had my primary School Education at Central School Ibagwa, where I sat for and obtained the First School Leaving Certificate in 1964. The following year I entered Government College, Umuahia, where I passed the West African School Certificate Examination in Division one, in 1968. The same year I gained admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study Civil Engineer. This course ended in 1974 when I obtained my first degree with second class Honours (Upper Division). I then left for the United States of America where I finally took the master’s degree in structural Engineering at Massachustts institute of Technology in 1977.
Although comparatively young in the profession, I have some years of experience as an engineer. For instance, all through my first degree course, I gained practical experience during my attachment to Monior Construction Co. ltd, under the ITF programme.
In the United States of America, I also worked for Star Construction syndicate between 1977 and 1980. While there, I rose from Structural Engineer to Deputy Chief Structural engineer on a salary equivalent to N20,000 per annum.
However, I have now come home owing to the pressure from my people and the needs of my state to Bruno Construction Ltd; Enugu. I am very happy to be back home to contribute to the development of my state, knowing that my experience will be useful in the construction industry.
Furthermore, if you require more information about me, the following people has kindly agreed to serve as my referees:
1. Prof. O.B. Eze, PRODA, P.M.B. 255, Enugu
2. Prof. C.O. Obi, Dept. of Civil Engineering, university of Nigeria Nsukka
3. Dr. Bab Ama, Bruno Construction Ltd, Box 501, Enugu
I strongly hope you will invite me to an interview during which I shall be better disposed to give you more detail about myself. I enclose photosat photocopies of my certificates.
Department of Mass
University of Nigeria
26th August, 1980
Prof. O. Azim, Head
Department of Sociology
University of Nigeria
Petition Against the Loss of My Script in Soc. 101
I have just received my sessional examination result for the 1979/80 session and discovered that no mark was awarded to me in Soc. 101.
It is even indicated, surprisingly though, that I was absent from the examination.
To write to prove that I sat for the examination in Soc. 101. The sessional examination in this course was taken on 29th May, 1989 at 3:00PM in the arts thatre. The paper was invigilated by Drs. W.K.A. Uno and B.A. Adike. Besides, I signed the attendance register on handing in my script at the end of the examination. My fellow second-year students in Mass Communication Department, who took this course as an elective – John obi, Mercy Ike, Emeka ndu, and Ngozi Afam who sat next to me – can attest to the validity of my statement.
The fact that I was considered absent from an examination I actually took is not only embarrassing but also shocking. It is obvious that the examiners must have lost my script. I therefore, appeal to you to ensure that my script is traced and marked so that the Registry can correct the anomaly in my records.
Basic Layout For Business Letters
There are two formats – the blocked and the indented
i. The fully-blocked type
ii. The fully-indented type
iii. The semi- blocked type
2. 18 Isi-Uzo Street
3. Independents Layout
5. January 15, 2013.
18 Isi-Uzo Street
January 15, 2013.
18 Isi-Uzo Street
January 15, 2013.
The address is on a straight line. Most writers prefer this format
It maintains a slanting position. This format is out-dated
It is a mixture of the fully-blocked and fully indented.
A formal letter, using letterhead
45 Olukpo Road
e-mail: Darlynton @yahoo.Ng.org
Your Ref:--------------------------- August 19, 2013
Mrs joyc Agbani
14 Agegunle Street
Dear Mrs Agbani,
Offer of Appointment as a Marketing Manager
On behalf of the manager of the above-named company, I wish to inform you that you have been offered appointment as a marketing manager. This is a consequence of the screening and interview of candidates conducted by the screening and interview of candidates conducted by the company from March 15, 2013.
You are expected to assume duties on 3rd November, 2013.
On arrival, you should report to the personnel manager
The following are required from you:
3. Acceptance letter
5. Original and photocopies of your credentials including the national Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate
6. 3 recently-taken passport photographs
Accept our congratulations
Letters of Application
You write applications for employment, interview, industrial training, visa, etc.
The following information is required in an application letter:
i) The subject of the letter (what job or position you are seeking and the source of information about the vacancy)
ii) Your age, educational background, qualifications, job experience (previous).
iii) Your interests or optitudes relevant to the job you are seeking
v) Documents enclosed
Application letters are written in two forms
a) The Tx states all the relevant information in the letter
b) The Tx writes a brief letter and attaches it to the curriculum vitae (CV), or biodata
A Typical Curriculum Vitae (CV)
1. Personal Data
i) Name: Nwogu Tricia Chioma
ii) Date of Birth: July 30, 1988
iii) Age: 25 Years
iv) Sex: Female
v) Local Government Area: Afikpo
vi) State of Origin: Ebonyi State
vii) Nationality: Nigeria
viii) Marital Status: Single
ix) No of children: Nil
x) Current Address: 27 Nwodo Street Abakaliki P.O. Box 2200
Abakaliki, Ebonyi State
xi) Permanent Address: Mr & Mrs A.A. Nwogu country home Ntolo-Afikpo, Afikpo L.G.A. Ebonyi State.
6. Educational institutions Attended (with dates)
a. Kings Nursery School Eha-Amufu 1991-1994
b. Unity Primary School Eha-Amufu 1994-2000
c. Holy ghost Foundation Secondary School Abakaliki 2000-2006
d. Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (NAU) 2010- 2011
e. International Computer College, Benin 2012.
7. Academic/professional Qualifications with Dates
a) First School Leaving Certificate 2000
b) West African School Certificate 2006
c) Bachelor of Science Degree in 2010
Computer Science Department at National
Youth Service Corps (NYSC) (2010-2011)
d) Certificate in Computer 2012
programming and application
e) Member: Nigeria Association of Engineers(NAE) 2012
4. Work Experience
a. Resource person: Country publishing company
incorporation, Abakaliki 2010-Date
b. Part-time teacher, Holy Ghost Secondary School
Abakaliki, Ebonyi State 2011.
5. Extra-Curriculum Activities
Prof. N.U. Nwamkpa
Department of Physic Astronomy
Department of Mass Communication
University of Nigeria
Hon. Kingsley Ibiam
Former Chairman Enugu North L.G.A
The more you know about the company or organization you are addressing the letter to, the easier it will be to write a good letter. You can get information on companies and others from libraries, annual reports, interviews, the internet, company literature, articles in newspapers, etc. make sure the title is correct. If you need to write the name before you write, call the receptionist to ask for the name, proper spelling, and preferred salutation. An application letter must be succinct, accurate and persuasive. Brevity and clarity create good visual impact and prompt the reader to read the letter.
Use bullet points to highlight skills which directly fulfill the requirements of the position
Be concise. Use specific terms to tell the reader exactly what you mean.
As a general rule, if you would be uncomfortable saying it, do not write it. Be simple and powerful: As Enrigue Jardiel Poncela says, when something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into writing.
Adapt the style to the company. For example, colourful, creative letters may be well suited for marketing or sales, but not for accounting or finance. Organization want to hire people who fit the corporate culture. If you research a company and a position, you can show that you are a good fit for the culture.
Proofread the letter carefully to avoid any errors. Proof for types, misspellings, and grammatical errors, check for proper business format. Inaccuracies undercut your ability to sell yourself. Remember, this is your first opportunity to make a good impression on the organisation (Welsh, 1997 p. 529).
Letters to the Press
The press mean newspapers, newsmagazines journals
Newspapers and magazines are read by the ordinary man on the street. Example: The sun; the ‘Punch’, (newspapers), ‘Newseek’, ‘Toll Magazine’, ‘The week’, Newswatch (magazines).
Some newspapers, magazines and journals are intended for a ‘narrower group who have certain interest in common. Eg: Sportslink, for lovers of sports; journal of arts and communication for scholars and academics, ‘Awake’ for a particular Christian denominational group and for researchers.
Most letters written in the press have been edited. The editor usually working to a very narrow limit of words per page or column of print Hegels rid of all irrelevant words and expressions without changing the meaning of the letter. Copyediting was formerly done on hard copies but technology has changed that. Most copy editing is now done on the computer and this enhances speed and accuracy of work (Ngwu and Ugwu, 2006)
A letter to the press must be concise and direct to ensure your letter is printed and to help the editor.
Adopt the formal letter style. Start with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’, as the case may be. The editor may not print your address, but he needs it for reference. No editor will accept a letter that doesn’t provide the means for future contact.
If you are referring to a previously-published article, refer to the title or subject, the date of publication and the author’s name, at the beginning of the letter.
Go straight to the points you wish to discuss.
Use simple language and arrange your points in orderly way.
Girls Technical Secondary School
Isi-elu Local Government Area
30th May, 2013
14 Ojologba street
Memorandum is derived from the Latin Macmillan English dictionary defines it as a short written statement containing information about a particular subject, passed between officials in a government or organization; it is also a written summary of the details of a legal document.
Memos omit the salutation and complimentary close.
As a note, a memo is written without too much formalities:
7. Language may not be very formal
8. Colloquials are allowed
9. Abbreviations are legitimate provided they are known by all parties concerned
10. Jargons and slangs are permitted as long as they are in vogue or are familiar in a particular linguistic environment which is often narrow, (Ezugu, 199, p.114).
Subject line are required in ‘memos, headings are optional. Each heading much cover all the information until the next heading.
Anthony Jr (1997, p. 591) points out the ‘memos are usually initially (with pen) by the ‘To/from’ block: this tells the reader that you have proofread the memo and it prevents someone sending out your name on a memo you did not in fact write’ see next page.
A Memo Format ‘1’
A Memo Format ‘2’
Memo Format ‘3’ (On plain paper)
February 10, 2013
To: Mrs Agbo Chioma
From: Engr. Maxwell Allu
Subject: how to reduce maternal/infant mortality in Mbaitolu Local Government Area of the State.
Engr. Maxwell Allu
The memorandum could be internal or external.
II. Personal Letters
1) Semi-formal letter
The semi-formal letter is a personal letter and it has the characteristics of both the formal letter and the informal letter.
The following kinds of letter come under this heading
The Semi-Formal Letter has its rules:
i) It is less formal than the business letter
ii) The rules are less rigid
iii) It must be courteous and polite in tone without being too formal or too familiar.
a. The heading: The address is written on the left hand side. There is no inside address
b. The Salutation: it is assumed that the recipient (Rx) of this letter is either much older or is a senior official
The following could be
Dear Lawal is a
Dear Mrs Nwankwo
Dear Prof. Lawson
My dear Chief Agu
In certain cases, especially in a predominantly illiterate or semi-literate setting, if you think the salutation may seem discourteous, write ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’, ‘Dear Mama Bola’ ‘Dear Pap John’,
c. The Body
d. The subscription and signature
Cenek Muka (Mrs)
A Typical Semi-Formal Letter
Department of Languages & Linguistics
Ebonyi State University
March 14, 2013.
Dear Uncle Mbanefo,
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to you and your family for all the assistance rendered to my younger siblings, Churchill and Ijeoma, during their stay with you last Christmas holiday.
When they came back, they could not hold their excitement. They were full praises for your family. The told stories of visits to various places including the Bar Beach, Festac, National theatre and international conference centre. Churchill and Ijeoma were raised in the hinterland, so they found the experience thrilling. Churchhill said he lost count of the number of fly-overs in Lagos he had actually wanted to know how many they were. Their trip to your fish ponds has made him pick up interest in fisheries; this he intends to study in future. Ifeoma said she was thankful to your children for exposing her to the workings of the computer and the internet. Part of the money you gave her has been used in registering in the British Council library in Enugu.
Uncle, you really influenced these children so much. I know mom must call your GSM phone number to say ‘thank you’. For me I felt there was great need to write and express my feelings about it all. We are deeply grateful.
Thank you very much. Greetings to auntie Chinwenu, your wife, and the Children.
2) The Formal (Friendly) Letter
The friendly letter include to –
11. A close relation in your age-group
12. Your parents, aunt, uncle etc.
13. A school mate
14. A peer
This depends on the person you are writing to and the degree of closeness. Use the name that you would normally use in conversation. Example: ‘Dear mother’, ‘mum’, ‘Monsie’, ‘Dear father’, ‘Dad’, ‘Popsy’, ‘My dear mother’, ‘My dear father’, ‘My dear sister’, ‘My dear brother’, ‘Dear John’, ‘My dear Sonny’.
All write, William Anthony, also suggests. In the salutation, I use the name I use in conversation. E.g. In a letter summarizing a recent conversation, I used ‘Dear Sue’. It would seem odd to say ‘Dear Mrs Smith if I called her ‘Sue’ during the conversation. If I’m attempting to build unity and encourage solidarity, I might use ‘Dear sister’ instead of ‘dear Sue’.
Your affectionate cousin,
The language is informal. The tone is conversational, but avoid excessive slang and loose, sentences. Use contracted forms like ‘I’d’, ‘I haven’t’, ‘I don’t’.
The Business Letter: Some Points to Note
The points to note include: Clearness, sincerity, precision, simplicity. You cannot acquire these writing skills easily unless you read widely and practice good writing.
‘You must first of all be sure of what you intend to convey before writing. Think thoroughly – nearly all vague or obscure writing is caused by lack of thought and planning. Even the most complicated subject can be set out if it is approached methodically. A clear letter enables the Rx to know immediately. A clear letter enables the Rx to know immediately what the Tx intends to convey in the letter, thus saving time and money.
The quality of a business letter should be such that the receiver (Rx) takes it seriously. The credibility of the source and the accuracy of the message must not be in doubt. Sincerity in business helps a firm achieve and maintain its credibility (James et al 2006 p. 86).
This means being exact, not vague, writing on the subject matter, not around it.
Question: How many of the students from your school were recommended for the British Council Scholarship award?
Answer: ‘About ten percent of them’. A precise and more informative answer is ‘Twenty six of them’
The Tx should always use plain language – there is need for this in the business letter more than in any other form of writing.
In business correspondence, the writer does not need to use devices of style which seek to amuse or create a mood for the recipient (Rx). The reader does not expect to be entertained or excited, but equally, he does not expect to find it difficult in getting the message.
There are some guidelines:
15. Prefer a short, simple, word or expression to a long or unusual one.
16. Avoid very ling sentences or paragraphs, foreign words expressions, slangs, commercial English which is outdated.
17. Use technical jargon only if you are sure the (Rx) recipient will understand it.
18. Abide by the rules of the business letter-writing.
Use simple straightforward and unambiguous expressions for easy understanding of your letter. Avoid obsolete phrases in the form of commercial English below.
-(Commercial English): Until quite recently most business letters were couched in a meaningless jargon known as ‘Business English’, inherited from the early Victorian period, Business English was a mass of conventions that were neither sensible nor convincing and merely served to leave in the mind of the reader an unpleasant feeling of insincere servility.
--- Thus, the third letter of a series would begin: “With reference to your esteemed favour of the 5th and our respects of the “7th inst.”
Courtesy is a quality that acknowledges the importance of customers and accords them utmost respect’. Politeness costs nothing. A courteously – worded complaint concerning shortage or non-delivery is far more likely to receive trough attention and willing investigation than one that accuses the sender of gross negligence or even worse faults.
At the same time, it is essential to guard against servility. A cringing attitude merely invites a blow, and excessive humility will merely lower the writer, and consequently his firm, in the estimation of the person who reads the letter. Excessive servility defeats its own object, by exciting an attitude of suspicion.
Attractive Wording and Appearance
As a composition, every business letter should be a pleasure to read. Even a refusal loses much of its sting if carefully-worded, and the Tx whose letters are pleasantly written in a valuable asset to any business organisation.
Often circulars are hurriedly glanced through and discarded. Now, they are carefully drafted, and every effort is made to render them so attractive in appearance and phrasing as to draw and hold the attention of the recipient (Rx).
Guidelines in Presenting a Business Letter
i) Use the right stationery
ii) Centre the letter on the page leaving equal margins on the sides, top and bottom
iii) Create adequate space between the different parts of the letter
iv) Write the letter in block from
v) Present a tidy writing
vi) Never write on the reversed side of a page, use a second sheet if need be.
vii) Complimentary close, name and signature should be on the same page with the body of the letter.
1. i) Define ‘Letter’
ii) Identify the different letter types and their characteristics
2. ‘There is no need for letters because you could communicate through the telephones, text messages (sms), e-mails, etc’ Do you agree? Discuss fully giving examples.
3. You were supplied with some textbooks by a reputable publishing company, but you observed that many of them had missing pages. Write a letter to the publisher complaining of this.
4. Chuks Communications placed an advertisement in a newspaper for the post of a sales representative. Write the application using the curriculum vitae method.
5. Write a letter to your mothers’ friend congratulating him on his appointment as a new minister of Education.
6. You have been away for the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. Write a letter to your friend studying abroad narrating your experiences.
7. Your customer are celebrating her birthday. On behalf of your company, write a letter congratulating her on the occasion.
The word ‘report’ is used in business circles to refer to a document providing an account of something witnessed or examined or of work carried out, or of an investigation together with conclusions arrived at as a result of the investigation.
You should note that a technical report is not a report on any aspect of technology. It is not a report that is presented by technicians as, Okenwa pointed out. It is a specilaised report on any issue, especially of a complicated one; specialized in the sense that each report has its peculiarities.
Like the business letter, a report sets out to conveyinformation needed to make plans and solve problems. For example:
v The Governor of a State may call for a technical report on the sharp decline in the number of male enrolment in the secondary schools in his state.
v The vice chancellor of an institution may ask for a report on the reducing number of students who used the institutions library.
v A state’s commissioner for information and youth development could call for investigation on the increasing number of un-employed youth in the state.
In modern times, reports are very important in every major decision-making process in firms and establishments. In fact, governments agencies, corportate bodies and others base most of their decisions and actions on reports of individuals and committees. Recommendations in report often provide good strategies for solving problems in organizations. Marketing research reports and sales reports expose business opportunities in commerce and industries while special or work reports serve as evidence of work done. Effective reporting enhances the progress and prestige of an organisation (gayi, 1999, p. 122)
In your academic and professional career, writing reports submitted to you are the bases upon which your career depends. Before embarking on major projects or taking major decisions, feasibility studies are carried out, reports written, and submitted.
Report writing is not creative writing; rather it calls for thorough research and objectivity.
VARIETIES OF REPORTS
An author, Kendra hatcher, notes that many kinds of documents are called reports. In some organizations, a report may be:
19. A long document
20. A document that contains numerical date,
21. A one-and two-page memos
Hatcher identifies two Kinds of Report.
Formal Reports: Which contain formal elements like
22. Title page
23. “a transmittal”
24. A table of content
25. A list of illustrations
A transmittal is a memo or letter explaining why something is being sent. When you send someone something in an organisation, attach a memo or letter of transmittal explaining what you’re sending.
They may be:
28. Computer printouts of production or sales figures.
Other Forms of Reports
i) Information Report: If such reports collects data for the researcher. Examples
29. Sales reports (sales figure for the week of month)
30. Quarter reports (for example, figures showing a plant’s productivity and profits for the quarterly).
ii) Analytical Reports
31. Annual reports (financial data and an Organisation’s accomplishments during the past year).
32. Audit reports (interpretations of the facts revealed during an audit).
33. Make good or payback reports (calculations of the point at which a new capital investment will pay for itself).
iii) Recommendation Reports
34. Feasibility reports: They evaluate two or more alternatives and recommend which the organisation should choose.
35. Justification Reports: Justify the need for a purchase, an investment, a new personnel line, or a chage in procedure.
36. Problem-Solving Reports: Identify the causes of an organisation’s problem and recommend a solution often, the name of a report is not enough to identify its purpose.
The following reports can be information analytical or recommendation reports:
37. Accident reports: Can simply list the nature and causes of accidents in a factory or office. These reports can also recommend changes to make conditions safer.
38. Credit reports: Summarises an applicants income and other credit obligations. These reports can also evaluate the applicants collateral and credit worthiness.
39. Progess and interim reports: record the work done so far and the work remaining on a preoject: These reports can also recommend that a project be stopped, continued, or restructured.
40. Trip reports: share what the author learned at a conference or during a visit to a customer or supplier. These reports can also recommend action based on that information.
41. Closure reports: document the causes of a failure or of research that is not economically or technically feasible for new products under current conditions. They can also recommend action to prevent such failures in the future.
More Classification of Reports
Reports can also be classified as a formal or informal
When you narrate or describe an even ti your friends, colleagues, relations, etc, you have given an information report. This report may be oral or written.
Some examples of informal report
(i) Your younger sobling was suspended from school owing to bad conduct; your father directed that you visit school to investigate and write him afterwards.
(ii) Your department invited a guest lecturer to teach your class a given topic. Later, your head of department invited you to brief him on the exercise.
(iii) You attended a traditional wedding ceremony in Kumasi, Ghana. Back home, your friends and colleagues want you to narrate your experiences.
(iv) Some students have just returned from an excursion to Ogbunike cave; they give you an account of their trip.
Characteristics of the written informal report
42. The style of presentation is conversational and relaxed.
43. The figures, opinions, events and experiences must be factual
44. The presentation must be in good English (queen’s English)
45. The language should be simple and clear.
A formal report is an official statement of results of an investigation or study carried out by a person or a committee and of which an information is required. It usually contains recommendations.
Formal Report: Other Points.
- It is strictly formal – all rules and conventions guiding formal writings apply to it.
- The tome is serious
- The language is purely formal, not causual.
- It is the result of an assignment or project that required investigation.
- It contains definite information and its findings must be facts, although the conclusions and recommendations ‘may be open to questions’.
- It is usually called for – the writer or the panel was requested to get it ready.
- It contains ‘material facts and conclusions’ which may not be known to the writer before he was asked to prepare it.
- It enable it’s reader to make a better decision.
Apart from the Informal Report and Formal Report Formals, there are other ways of classifying reports, according to Peter Little:
A. Classification by Content
Types of report depend on:
v The topic or subject matter
v The circumstances surrounding the requirement of the report.
i) Oral Reports
Oral reports are common in:
v Eye witness reports
v Work reports
v Reports made at meetings
ii) Routine Reports
They are reports that involve matters that are periodically reported on:
v Reports made at committee meetings to heads of firms
v Periodic reports made by heads of departments, or principal officers of a company to management,
v Reports made by sales representatives to managements
v Routine report made by students, on long field trip or excursion, to the school authorities,
v Monthly, quarterly annual reports a chairman pressets at shareholders meetings.
Some pf these reports centre on the progress of setbacks of the firm or establishment. Usually, there is not much problem in pressenting routine reports because some of them are submitted on special firms. This reduces language use to a minimum.
iii) Special Reports
They are special in the sense that they are called for under special circumstances. For example:
46. A superior officer, a customer, a collegue may request for a special report on certain issues,
47. An organisation, agency or club you belong to may want you to do a study on something.
48. An establishment or a body may set up a committee or panel to investigate a matter and write up a report.
Special Reports: Illustration
B. Classificaton of Reports by Length
Reports may be short or long depending on their functions. The short report requires a summary of the findings, conclusions and recommendations.
C. Classification by Form
1. The letter form
2. The systematic presentation
3. The mixed form
1) The Letter form
a) It is usually short
b) It is written in the form of a letter
c) The letter is usually a formal one. It can also be a semi-formal depending on the person who had requested for it.
For example: If the recipient is an official in a form business enterprise organisation, the letter is formal. If an elderly relation had requested you to investigate the circumstances that led to investigate the circumstances that led to his wards expulsion from school, the report takes the semi-formal shape.
d) The subject matter is simple and uncomplicated
e) Usually, one view point is involved
f) The order of presentation is usually chronological and narrative.
A great disadvantage of this letter, according to Peter Little, is that it must all be read in the order it was presented. It is frequently difficult for the reader to see the connection between the various ports of the report.’
The letter of a report could be report by a consultant to his or her clinet, an employee to the employer, a customer to a firm, etc. whichever one it is, it is advisable that the facts are logically arranged. For example, a head of department of a school may be required to report on the need for relocating a named class to another campus of the institution. If this knowledge and recommendations are properly arranged, his report will be brief, clear, convincing and acceptable.
An example of the letter form of report
The University Bookshop
Ebonyi State University
3rd May, 2013.
The Vice Chancellor
Ebonyi State University
The University Bookshop: A Report on the Drop in Sales
In accordance with your letter of 8th May, 2013, reference No EBSU/1/24/Vol/2/3, requesting me to comment on the sharp drop in sales in the University bookshop and provide recommendations, I wish to state that sales started declining since the relocation. CAS Campus of the institution has a large population of students but the access road to the bookshop is in a bad state. When it rains, the presence of water-logged poth=oles and marshes makes the toad become impossible. Students have often complained of muddy water-splashes from motorist and cyclists.
In the dry season, the situation is worsened because the book on display become enveloped in dust and nobody would want to buy a dirty book.
Although, an effort was made to lure buyers to the bookshop by reducing prices, the result has not been encouraging.
I am therefore recommend that the road that link the bookshop should be repaired to make for free movement of a man and machinery. There is a need for air conditioners in the bookshops to ensure that books remain clean and intact before sale.
More efforts should be made to encourage students and the public to buy from the University bookshop.
2) Schematic Pressentation
The reports of committees and sub-committees are presented in the schematic form. A schematic report has its peculiarities:
49. The subject matter is not simple but complicated
50. It is used where letter and mixed forms are considered inadequate
51. The complexity necessitates its being investigated by many people in conference
52. The schematic arrangement makes it easy for the reader to classify, analyse and label the material.
53. The use of appropriate language is importat because the report is assumed to be expressing the opinion of all members.
54. The subject matter is divided into sections and subsections each division has suitable headings for easy referencing.
55. Many subject matters could be handled within a report
56. The final report embodies some of the following:
- Object of the panels investivgations (terms of reference)
- Investigatyions made
- Witness interviewec
v When handing in such a report, a letter of transmittal (covering letter) usually accompanies it.
v It is typed, printed and band before submission.
DRAFTING THE REPORT
All reports – letter, mixed, schematic forms – have a pattern. They include:
i) Term of reference
ii) Procedure, that is, methods adopted in data collection, interviews, investigations, etc.
v) Recommendations (if required
vii) Name and signature of the writer or writers
The Long and detailed report is designed schematically. This is to:
- Enable the receiver get through it easily;
- Enable the reader to glance through it so as to have a general picture of what it covers;
- Allow the reader pick what particularly interest him in the report.
Parts of a Shematic Report
On the cover of is the following information:
· Title of the report
· The name of the panel or committee that did the work
· Date of the handing in.
ii) Title Page
· The title of the report
· The name of the authotity that appointed the members and to whom the report is to be handed into
· The name of the panel submitting the report
· Date of handing in of the report. In writing the title, eliminate all unnecessary words.
iii) Table of Contents
This page contains the headings, sub-headings, chapters, titles etc. the illustrations, pictures, appendices are also included here. All this is provided with the page numbers.
The introiduction states the circumstances leading to the constitution of the panel, that is the background to the problem. Example: ‘In compliance with the directive by the Honourable minister of Roads to investigate the rising rate of road traffic accidents (RTA) along the Enugu/Onitsha expressway, and make recommenadations: This statement has given answers to ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘why’ of the report.
‘What’ – a directive to investigate
(By) ‘who?’ the Honourable minister of roads ‘why’ – because of the rising rate of RTA.
The reader ought to know this before reading the report.
v) Terms of reference
This determines the scope and limitations of the exercise. For instance:
a) To investigate the rising rate of RTA along the Enugu/Onitsha expressway
b) To identify the causes.
c) To propose strategies for controlling the trend and make recommendations to government
d) To submit fifty copies of the report to government within three months from the date of inauguration of the panel.
The panel should abide by the issues that are within the scope of terms of reference. For instance, if the papel is limited to investigation, it has no mandate to make recommendations to government.
This is also the method of investigation. The ways and means used for data collection, tests carried out interviews conducted, other information gathered. Did it involve calling for memoranda from the public, undertaking tours locally, nationally, and internationally, the use of libraries, archives, the internet, etc? were some foreign security agencies like the INTEROOL involved?
The procedure reveals
- How thorough the committee had been in gathering relevant material that assisted in the exercise
- Whether any vital aspect of the investigation had been left uncovered.
This section contains the results of the investigation it forms the main body of the report.
After going through all the investigations, the panel therefore should be able to collect important facts and figures. However,
- Findings should be presented objectively without bias
- Every issue must be critically analysed
- The panel must distinguish between facts and fancies, causes and effects’.
- The panel must be dispassionate
- Findings that do not advance the objectives of the report should be discarded.
- Facts that could even hurt the best of our friends and interests should not be suppressed or glossed over.
It is advisable you go through the terms of reference again to ensure that no item is left out.
Finding are usually divided into sections and sub-sections
The most important sub-section should be presented first
a. Exctent of Unrest
b. Causes of Unrest
(i) Remote causes
ii) Immediate causes
After analyzing and interpreting the data collected, the panel draws up the conclusion. The conclusions is the writers pr Panels’ opinion on the findings or subject matter.
If ‘recommendations’ falls within the terms of reference, the writers are expected to recommend a course of action based on the findings and conclusions’
Recommendations should be numbered with the most important coming first.
The authors must be impartial. ‘Recommendations should be concise, clear and accurate’ to avoid ambiguity. They should not contain items that are not in the terms of reference
Example of ‘Recommendations’
i/we recommend the following
1. That alcoholic drinks be banned in all park park all over the federation.
2. That the national union of road transport workers (NURTW) be educated on the need to prevail on their members tp comply with road safety rules.
3. That enlightment campaigns on road safety be carried out in the entire federation.
4. All vehicles used for transportation must have atleast one conductor
5. That another commission be appointed to review and report on aspects that are not covered by the present report, etc.
They include charts, tables of figures, sub-reports, maps, computer-print-outs, pictures, definition of terms, video clips, interviews, tapes that accompany the report.
- Provide supplementary information to the findings, conclusions and recommendations.
- Are too large or too detailed to be included in the body of the report
- If included in th body may disturb the coontonuous flow of ideas’ in the report
- Should be numbered. Eg
Appendix ‘A’ Appendix ‘I’
Appendix ‘B’ Appendix ‘II’
Appendix ‘C’ Appendix ‘III’
Xi) List of References and Bibliography
This is applicable to academic reports where the author refers to newspapers, magazines, journals, textbooks, among others.
Xii) Letter of Transmittal
A letter of transmittal is not in the body of the report. It is a letter that introduces the report at have-over, both the report and the letter are handed over to the authority that requested for the report. It is a formal letter.
The Content of the Letter
- The writers or committee’s address
- Reference number
- Address of the authority initiating the report
- Title (title of the report)
- Body of the letter
The letter begins with a reference to the letter of authority that empowers the panel to embark on the worl. A copy of the document may be inserted
Another part of the body of the letter may express the ‘acknowledgements’. For example, the committee expresses its gratitude to the authority for finding it worthy to undertake such an assignment, and for the opportunity given it to serve the establishments. The writers also express appreciation to all that contributed in the progress and accomplishment of the exercise.
This is relevant, as in all official letters
The chairmansigns first, then lother members; the secretary’s signatures comes last. Example:
Chaiman Prof. D.C. Nwosu 5/10/08
Member Dr(Mrs) SS Ali 5/10/08
Member Dr. A.I. Ezekwesili 5/10/08
Member Dr(Mrs) Nwanchor 5/10/08
Member Mr. K.M/ Okoh 5/10/08
A Sample Schematic Report
A REPORT ON THE DECLINE IN MALE ENROLMENT IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN JURY STATE OF NIMINA
An eight-man panel was constituted and sworn in by the jury state commissioner for education, Dr. D.D. Onwukwe, on 15th February, 2013 to investigate the causes of the decline in male enrolment in secondary schools in Jurry State and make recommendation to government
ii. Terms of Refereence
1. To determine the causes
2. To recommend measures for solution
3. To submit fifteen copies of the report within three months of the inauguration of the panel to the commissioner of education Jurry State
1. The committee called for memoranda from the following
c. Teachers, civil servants, business organizations,
d. Other members of the public
2. Those who submitted memoranda were interviewed.
Other people interviewed were
a. The unemployed
c. business executives and apprentices
d. The physically-challenged
i. Civil Servants
j. Other members of the public and volunteers
3. Video clips and pictures of schools were taken
Most peopleinterviewed agreed that there is a reduction in the number of males in the states’ secondary school.
a) Delay in the payment of teachers salaries, benefits and other entitlements, resulting in teacherss embarking on strike actions;
b) Governments insensititvity to the welfare of teachers and students;
c) High cost of school fees
d) Inadequate teaching and learning facilities
e) Decay of infrastructures in many secondary school, especially those in the rural areas;
f) Lack of employment, youth empowernment after graduation
g) Corruption on the part of some school administrators, officials of ministry of education
h) Inadequate inspection of schools
i) Inadequate number of teachers
a) Misplaced societal values which de-emphasis formal education
b) Lack of motivation from relations and governments
c) Lack of determination and focus
d) Material acquisition acquisition in preference for sefcondary education
e) Lack of role model for inspiration
f) Lack of sporting facilities to re-awaken students interest in sports and motivate them.
a) Dillusionment caused by government’s insensitivity to the plight of students and teachers
b) Poverty caused by the economic downturn
a) Unfavourable teaching and working environment resulting in lettergyand unwillingness to perform maximally;
b) Lack of teaching aids
c) Lack of adequate training and re-training;
d) Division to other means of livelihood owing to delays in salary payment
a) The near paralysis of the educational sector caused by the state’s eighteen-month teachers strike f march 2012 to September 2013 and resulting in the diversion of students’ interest to trading and other yuth empowernment skills.
b) The exodus of many students’ to schools in the neighbouring states.
There is recduction in the number of male enrolment in secondary schools in Ebonyi state. Government takes the bulk of the blame partly because of the long strike-embarked by teachers in the past and partly because of its failure to motivate teachers and inspire the students.
To increase the number of males in secondary schools in jurry State, the panel recommends that:
i) Government should intensify its campaign on thje benefits acquiring the basic secondary education before veering into trading or other empowernment ventures. All the available media should be used to achieve this
ii) A reduction in school-fees or free education up to secondary school level will cause a rise in the number of male children seeking secondary education.
iii) All secondary schools be renovated and properly equipped with the necessary teaching and learning materials.
iv) Teachers’ salaries and other benefits be paid on time
v) The issue of training and re-training of teacchers and other school administrators should not be neglected.
vi) A scholareship scheme to assist brillant but poor students should be instituted.
vii) A scheme whereby secondary school leaves unable to acquire higher education are drafted into skill acquisition training programmes will be of paramount importance
viii) The secondary school curriculum should be restructured to accomodate arts, crafts, agro-based skills and other skills, including information and communication technoogy(ICT).
ix) Sports should be re-introduced in secondary schools for the benefit of talented students
x) The annual state and inter-states secondary schools sports competitions should be revived.
The panel wishes to use this medium to thank the government of Jurry state, the commissioner for education, Jurry State, Dr. T.F. Endork, all those whho got involved through intervies and other personal contacts, electronic contacts, memoranda and other sources for their contributions toward the success of this exercise.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve the state, the country and the entire humanity.
It is hoped that the implementation of the recommendations will go a long way in projecting Jyrry State not only educationally but also in all other spheres.
Chairman Prof. M.C. Ette 16/3/13
Member Dr. K.K. Onah 16/3/13
Member Mrs. N. Eke 16/3/13
Member Mrs P.O. Butu 16/3/13
Member Mr. J.J. Aku 16/3/13
Member Chief M.O. Mbakwe 16/3/13
Member Dr. S.S. Eze 16/3/13
Secretary Mrs B.T. Fuwa 16/3/13
3) Mixed Form
The mixed report has the characteristics of the letter form and the echematic form. It starts like a letter, changes to the schematic pressentation and close like a letter.
The mixed form is duitable where;
- The subject matter is too complex to be handled as a letter form of report
- The content is too brief to assume the schematic format.
Mixed Form of Report
Department of Languages and Linguistics
Ebonyi State Univeristy
March 13, 2013.
The Head of Department,
Department of Languages and Linguistics
Ebonyi State Univeristy
The need to relocate the 300 level languages and Linguistics Class to the Main Campus
In your memo of 16th March, 2013. Ref. No. EBSU/13/4/VOL3/31, you directed that i state why my class , 300 level language and linguistics, should be moved to the main campus of the University. In compliance with that instruction, i give the following reasons
The Pressent Classroom
1. 300 level Languages and Linguistic class has the highest student population of 230.
2. The pressent classroom is smaller, with 130 sitting accomodation only.
3. About 80 students receive their lectures standing
4. The classroom lacks proper ventilation
5. There is no public address system to enhance teaching and learning
6. The noise pollution arising from the nearby business centres and residences is increasingly becoming unbearable.
The Main Campus
1. Classroom in the main campus are large-each has at least 250 sitting capacity
2. Ventilation is adequate
3. Public address system is available
4. There are no distractions from noise. The environment is serene
5. The language and linguistics auditory workshop and the departmental library are located on this campus.
6. Other classes will benefit a lot from the movement
We will appreciate it if you are instrumental to this relocation.
Chioma C. Anyim (Miss)
(300 Level language and Linguistic)
Presenting Information Effectively in Reports
Dayton Semerjian (from business and administrative communication, 1997)
1. Use a fairly formal style without contractions or slangs
2. Avoid the word ‘you’. In a document with multiple audiences, it will not be clear who ‘you’ is. Instead use the company name
3. Include in the report all the definition and documents needed to understand the recommendations. The multiple audiences for reports include readers who may consult the document monthe or yearss from now; they will not share your special knowledge. Explain acronyms and abbreviations the first time they appear. Explain the history or background of the problem Add as appendices previous documents on which you are building.
The following points apply to any kind of writing, but they are particularly important in reports.
1. Say what you mean
Note-quite-right word choices are particularly damaging in reports, which may be skimmed by readers who know very little about the subject. Occasionally, you can simply substitute a word
Incorrect: With these Recommendations, we can overcome the solutions to our problem
Correct: With these Recommendations, we can overcome our problem
Correct: With these Recommendations, we can solve our problem
2. Tighten Your Writing
Eliminate unecessary words. Use gerunds and infinitives, combine sentences and rewward sentences to cut the number of words.
Wordy: Campus Jewelers’ main objective is to increase sales, specifically the objective is to double sales in the next five years by becoming a more succesful business.
Better: Campus Jewelers’ objective is to double sales in the next five years.
Wordiness in reports may arise from two sources that are less likely to affect shorter messages: writers may deliberately put in extra words to create a longer documents and repetition may occur in different sections that are written at different times.
No reader wants lenght for the sake of length.
3. Introduce Sources and Visuals Gracefully
Use active rather than passive verbs. The verb you use indicates your attitude toward the source.
Says and writes are neutral
Points out, shows, suggests, discovered and notes suggest that you agree with the source. Words such as claim, argues, contends that, believes, and alleges distance you from the source ---Use active verbs to refer to visuals too.
4. Use Blueprints, Transitions, Topic Sentences Headings
a) Blueprints are overviews of forecasts that tell the reader what you will discuss in a section or in the entire report. Make your blueprint easy to read telling the reader how many points there are and numbering them (either with words, or figures). In the following example, the first sentence in the revised paragraph tells the reader to look for four points; the numbers separate the four points clearly; the numbers separate the four points clearly. This overview paragraph also makes a contract with readers, who now expect to read about tax benefits first and employee benefits last:
Paragraph without employee stock ownership number
Programs (ESOPS) have several advantages. They provide tax benefits for the company. ESOPS also create tax benefits for employees and for leaders. They provide a defence against takeovers in some organisation productivity increases because workers now have a financial stake in the companys’ profits. ESOPS are an attractive employee benefit and help the company hire and retain good employees.
Revised Paragraph Employee Stock Ownership with Numbers
Programs (ESOPS) provide four benefits. First, ESOPS provide tax benefits for the company, its employees, and lenders to the plan. Second, ESOPs help create a defense against takeovers. Third, ESOPS may increase productivity by giving workers a financial stake in the company’s profits. Fourth, as an attractive employee benefit, ESOPs help the company hire and retain good employee.
b) Transitions are words, phrases, or sentences that tell the reader whether the discussion is continuing on the same point or shifting points.
There are economic advantages, too.
(Tells the reader that we are still discussing advantages but that we have now moved to economic advantages)
An alternative to this plan is...
(Tell reader that a second option follows)
The second factor...
(Tells reader that the discussion of the first factor is finished)
These advantages, however, are found only in A, not B or C. Prepares reader for a shift from A to B and C)
C) A topic sentence introduces or summarises the idea of a sentence. Readers who skim reports can follow yoour ideas more easily if each paragraph begins with a topic sentence, eg.
Hard to reade (no topic another main use of ice is to sentence
Keep the fish fresh. Each of the seven kinds of fish served at the restaurant requires one gallon twice a day, for a total of 14 gallons an additional 6 gallons a day are required for the salad bar.
Better (begins with twenty gallons of ice a day are needed to keep food fresh.
Of this, the biggest portion (14 galons) is use to keep the fish. Each of the seven kinds of fish served at the restaurant requires one gallon twice a day (7x2=14). An additional 6 galons a day are required for the salad bar.
d) Headings are single words, short phrasees, or complete sentences that indicate the topic in each section. A heading must cover all of the material under it untill the next heading. For example, cost of tuition cannot include the cost of books or of room and board. You can have just one paragraph under a heading or several pages. If you do have several pages between headings; you may want to consider using subheadings. Use subheadings only when you have two or more divisions within a main heading.
Topic headings focus on the structure of the reports. As you can see from the following example, topic headings gives very little information. Eg:
Causes of the Problem
Information or talking heads, in contrast tell the reader what to exect. Informative heads provide an overview of each section and of the entire report. Eg: Recommended Reformation for Miki Bleach problems in maintaining Miki Ganular Structure solidifying during storage and transportation customer complaint about “Blocks” of Miki in Boxes why Miki Bleach ‘Cakes’
The manufacturing process
The chemical process of solidification
Modifications needed to
Keep miki Bleach flowing frely
Headings must be parralel, that is they must use thesame gramatical structure. Subheads must be parallel to each other but do not necessarily have to be parrallel to subheads under other headings.
Not Parallel Are students aware of VIP?
Current awareness among undergraduates students. Graduate students. Ways to incease volunteer commitment and motivation we must improve training and supervision can we make volunteers’ hours more flexible? Providing emotional support to volunteers provide more information about community needs and VIP services
Parallel: Campus Awareness of VIP
Current awareness among undergraruates students current awareness among graduate stuudents
Ways to increase volunteer commitment and motivation improving trainig and flexibility of volunteers hours providing emotional support to volunteers providing more information about community needs VIP services.
1. More Notes from Semerjian
The final piece of the process in writing reports is editing and revising. Most people don’t leave enough time at the end of a research-intensive project to edit and revise. This step is necessary to “polish” your report and refine your thinking. How well you perform this step is often difference between a good report and a great report.
2. To prove that you could report your way to a better job.
Semerjian cites Janie Lahoiche’s ‘I’m stuck in a dead end job,’ family circle, March 24, 1987, 121. See below.
Joan was hired by a computer company to find references to computer industry in current publications.
To expand her job description, joa n wrote reports summarizing the data instead of just sending files of clippings. The receivers were delighted because she was clippings. The receivers were delighted because she was saving them time.
Her second step was to meet with the people who get her report to ask theem what sort of information they needed. Now she was able to target her reports to her readers’ needs. People in each unit began to invite her to meetings discussing the project she was researching.
As a member of the various groups within the company, Joan now had the information she needed to take a third step: drafting the report for decision makers. For example, if the sales department wanted information for a proposal to a client, she presents her information in a sales proposal. If the president wanted material for a speech, she arrange her information in a sppech outline. When the director of business communication resigned, Joan was the obvious choice for the book.
MAKING YOUR WRITING EASY TO READ
Tight writing is important since working papers and memos go to busy people. Wordy sentences waste time and paper. Using an easy-to-read style makes the reader respond more positively to your ideas.
Two ways to make your writing easier to read
- Make each sentence and paragraph easy to read so that skimming the first paragraph or reading the whole document takes a little work as possible.
- Make the document look inviting. Use signposts to guide the reader through the document.
Holf-Truths about Style
Many generalizations about style are half-truths
Apply selectively if at all.
1. Write as you talk
But unless your speech is exceptionally fluent, writing as you talk can create awkward, repetitive and badly organized prose. Rather, read your draft loud to someone siting about three feet away from you. If it sounds stiff and too formal or even rude to the reader, don’t write it.
2. Never Use (“I”)
Using ‘I’ too often can make your writing sound self-centered. Using it unnecessarily will make your ideas seem uncertain. However, when you write about things you did, said or seen, using ‘I’ is both appropriate and smoother than resorting to awkward passives or phrases like “this writer”
2=3. Never Begin a Sentence with (and) or (but)
Beginning a sentence with and or also makes the idea that follows seem like an afterthought. That’s Ok when you want the effect of spona=taneous speech in a written document, as you may in a sales letter. If you want to sound as though you have thought about what you are saying, put the also in the middle of the sentences or use another transition: moreover, furthermore. But tells the reader that you are shifting gee=ars and that the point which follows not only contracts with but also is more important than the preceeding ideas. Presenting such verbal signposts to your reader is important. Beginning a sentec=nce with but is fine if doing so makes your paragraph read smoothly.
4. Never end a sentence with a Preposition
The prohibition against ending sentence with a prepositing is probably based on two facts:
1) The beginning and the end of a sentence are usually emphasized. Example:
a) Please, think about it
b) What he told you was untrue
c) The lecture is on tree planting
A preposition may not worth emphasizing, however
ii) A reader seeing a preposition would expect a word or words to follow.
In formal writings, avoid ending sentences with preposition. Eg:
a) Safely is what I am thinking of
b) That was what we sought for
To achieve the best result, however, you had better analyse your audience and situation before deciding on the right language.
5. Big Words Impress People
Much of the time, big words just distance you from your audience and increase the risk of miscommunication. When people misuse big words, they look foolish. If you’re going to use big words, make sure you use them correctly.
Castner also gives guidelines for building a better style
- Get a clean page or screen so that you aren’t locked into old sentence structure
- Try WIRMI: what I really mean is. Then write the words.
- Try reading your draft out loud to someone siting about three feet away. If the sound stiff, they’ll seem stiff to a reader too.
- Ask someone else to read your draft out loud. Readers stumble because the words on the page aren’t what they expect to see. The places where that person stumble are places where your writing can be better.
Ten ways to make your writing easier to read
a. As you choose words
b. Use words that are accurate, appropriate and familiar
To be accurate, a word’s denotation must march the meaning the writer wishes to convey
Denotation is the ordinary, literal or dictionary meaning of a word. Eg.
a) The matter has been settled (resolved)
b) They’ve decided to settle in Nigeria (live permanently)
Commutation means the additional idea or emotion that a word suggests. It is not the usual meaning. In some environments, settlement may connote bribery. Eg. Chief kia talked like someone that had been settled (bribed)
Words are appropriate when their connotations convey desired attitude.
A great many words carry connotations of approval or disapproval, disgust or delight.
Words suggestion approval (positive)
Words suggesting disapproval (negative)
In assessing an employee’s performance, a boss could be positive or negative, based on the connotations of the words in the appraisal. Example:
Positive: Terry is a meticulous team member who takes care of details that others sometimes ignore
Negative: Terry is hung up on trivial details
Advertisers carefully choose words with positive connotations. Expensive cars are never used; instead, they’re pre-owned, or even preloved. An executive for rolls-Royce once said, a Rolls never, never breaks doen. Of course, he added, with a twinkle in his eye, there have been occasions when a car has failed to proceed
Words may also connote status. Eg:
Sales person – sounds like a clerk in a store
Sales representative – suggest someone selling important items to corporate customers
Consider the following
- Trader and business person
- Business person and business executives
The associations a word evokes will be consistent in any one culture but may differ among cultures. One scholar reports that while the term discussion is connotatively neutral for North Americans who view it as an attempt to change someone else’s mind.
We have the right to package our ideas attractively, but we have the responsibility to give the public of our superiors all the information they need to make decisions.
- Use familiar or everyday words
- Use shorter more common words
- Use specific, concrt=ete words, they are easier to understand and remember.
A few examples are provided
Formal and Stuffy
Short and Simple
Castner provides four exceptions to the general rule that ‘shorter is better’
a) Use a long word if it is the only word that expresses your meaning exactly.
b) Use a long word if more familiar than a short word. Send out is better than emit.
c) Use a long word if its connotations are more appropriate. Exfoliate is better than scrape dead skin cells.
d) Use a long word if the discourse community prefers it.
3. Use Technical Jargon Sparingly: Eliminate Business Jargon
Use technical jargon only when the term is essential and known to the reader. If however, it has a ‘plain English’ equivalent, use the simpler term.
B. As you write amd revise sentences
3. Use Active Verbs most of the time
Who does what sentences with active verbs make your wrting more forceful.
A verb is active if the subject performs the action
A verb is passive if the object does the action. The subject suffers the action of the verb.
(i)The company manufactures cars
Cars are manufactured by the company
(ii)The secretary is drafting the letter now
The letter is being drafted by the secretary now
iii)The radio station broke the news last night
The news was broken by the radio station last night
iv)Government should have drafted military personnel to the scene
Military personnel should have been drafted to the scene by government.
Some Disadvantages of Passive Verbs
v Sentence is longer
v More time is needed to understand it.
v If used with many big words, writing could be boring and pompous.
When to Use Passive Verbs
v To emphasise the object receiving the action, not the subject
‘Management has been informed’
‘The Union has informed management’
The writer is bothered more about management and the information, not the subject.
To provide coherence within a paragraph. A sentence is easier to read if “old” information comes at the beginning of a sentence. When you have been discussing a topic, use the word again as your subject even if that requires a passive verb Eg.
The people made donations last year to support the scheme
Those donations are still being held up by the militants
- To avoid assigning blame’ E.g.
The document has been misplaced
- To be impersonal. Example
The result has been tampered with
4. Use Strong Verbs – Not Nouns – to carry the weight of your sentence
Put the weight of your sentence in the verb. Strong verbs make sentences more forceful and up to 25% easier to read. When the verb is a form of the verb ‘to be’ revive the sentence to use a more forceful verb Eg.
Weak: The advantages of moving into the apartment instead of remaining in a hotel are enormous
Better: Moving into the apartment, instead of remaining in a hotel, is more advantageous.
Nouns ending in ‘-ment’ ‘-ion’ and ‘-al’ often hide verbs. E.g.
Make an adjustment
Make a payment
Make a decision
Reach a conclusion
Take into consideration
Make a referral
Make a withdrawal
Make an amendment
Reach an agreement
Perform an investigation
Bring about a reduction
5. Tighten Your Writing
Writing is wordy if the same idea can be expressed in few words. Unnecessary words increase typing time, bore your reader, and make your meaning more difficult to follow, since the reader must hold all extra w oords in mind whle trying to understand your meaning.
Good writing is light
Bstratagies for Tightening Your Writing
· Remove words that say nothing
· Use gerunds and infinities to make sentences shorter and smoother
· Combine sentences to eliminate unnecessary words
· Put the meaning of your sentence into the subject and verb to cut the number of words.
The following words can usually be cut
Cut redundant words E.G.
A period of three months
During the course of the negotiations
During the year of 2007
Plan in advance
The colour blue
Substitute a single word for a wordy phrase E.g.
At the present time
Due to the fact
In the event that
In the near future
Soon (or give that date
Prior to the start of
On a regular basis
Combine sentences to eliminate unnecessary words combining sentences.
a) Focuse the readers attention on the key points
b) Make your writing sound more sophisticated,
c) Sharpen the relationship between ideas, thus making your writing more coherent.
Weak: We cannot say for sure whether Dede was in school today. In the mean time, let us base our fact on what the orange seller by the roadside told us that she saw him in the morning hours.
Better: Uncertain of Dede’s presence in the school today, we shall rely on the information from the roadside orange sellerthat she saw him in the morning.
6. Vary Sentence Length and Sentence Structure
Readable prose mixes sentence lengths and varies sentence structure. A really short sentence (under 10 words) can add punch to your prose.
Really, long sentences (over 30 or 40 words) are danger signs.
How to Vary Sentence Length and Sentence Structure
(i) Mix simple, complex and compound sentences
A simple sentence has one main clause
a) The examination will start on Monday
b) There is reward for hardwork
A complex sentence has one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.
a) The examination will start next month, although students have not been informed.
b) From what management discussed last week, the examination will start next month although students have not been informed.
(ii) You can create variety by beginning the sentence with other parts of the sentene (see ‘b’ above)
It has two or more main clauses joined by a conjunction or relevant punctuation mark. Example:
a) The hospital is a very bad shape. It has been neglected by previous governments
b) The meeting will hold but the guests will arrive late.
Guidelines for Sentence Length and Structure
· Always edit sentences for tightness
· When yourt subject matter is complicated or full of numbers, make a special effort to keep sentences short
· Use long sentences
a) To show how ideas are linked to each other
b) To avoid a series of short, choppy sentences
c) To reduce repetition
· Group the words in long and medium-length sentences into chunks that the reader can process quickly
· When you use a long sentence, keep the subject and the verb close together.
7. Use Parallel Structure
Words or ideas that share the same logical role in your sentence must also be in the sae grammatical form. Example:
Faculty: The school is large, famous, has acclaimed lecturers.
The school is large
The school is famous,
The school has acclaimed lecturers
Parallel: The school is karge, famous, endowed with acclaimed lecturers.
Is endowed with acclaimed
Faculty: Some of the reasons include: our inability to supervise the project, late arrival of building materials, the site was located in a swampy area.
Parallel: Some of the reasons include: our inability to supervise the project, late arrival of building material, the location of the site in a swampy area.
8. Put your Readers in Your sentences
Use second-person pronouns (You) instead of the third-person (he,she,one) to give your writing more impact
Third Person: It is advisable a person drives carefully and obeys all traffic regulations on the very busy Enugu/Abakaliki expressway.
Second Person It is advisable you drive carefully and obey all traffic regulations along the very busy Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway.
C. As you write and Revise Paragraphs
9. Begin Most Paragraphs With Topic Sentences
A good paragraph has unity, has only one idea. The topic sentences state the main idea.
The paragraph is woven around the topic sentence. Your writing will be easier to read if the topic sentence is explicit and placed at the beginning of the paragraph.
The topic sentence introduces the paragraph and summarises it. When the first sentence of a paragraph is not the topic sentence, readers who skim may miss the main point.
10. Usw Transitions to Link ideas
Transitions signal connections between ideas to the reader. They tell whether the next sentence continues the previous thought or starts a new idea; they can can tell wheather the idea that comes next is more or less important than the previous thoughts.
And, also in addition, similarly, for example, on the other hand, however, consequently, as a result, because, for this reason, etc.
1. What is technical report?
2. Differentiate between report and technical report.
3. Identify the differences between the letter form of report and the schematic presentation
4. Your firm assigned a project to you. Write a report to your boss on the progress you have made.
5. The federal government appointed your committee to investigate the upsurge in road traffic accident (RTA) in your country and make recommendations. Write your report
6. Write a report to the head of your institution recommending ways your institution can generate fund to plough back into the system.
7. Educate a class of junior students on how to make your writing easier to read’.
8. Write a report to the management of your firm on the poor sanitary state of the premises.
Use of Library
Any student/scholar who is serious about excelling in his/her scholarstic career must know how to use the library. This is because the library provides the easiest source of research material offers a wealth of historical and current information which can greatly enhance the student’s and lecturer’s classroom experiences, their general understanding and intellectual development. For the user to be able to use library often and effectively, he/she know what library means, the types of libraries and their functions. He/she should know how library resources materials, particularly – are organized and arranged for efficient and easy use, not only his/her institution but anywhere else. This chapter is meant to help students and other library users acquire this capacity – to effectively use the library.
A library may be defined as a collection of written, printed, or other graphic materials (including films, slides, phonograph records and tapes) housed, organized and made available to people for information, knowledge, recreation and aesthetic enjoyment (Obasikene, Eze and Inyiama, 2002:219) metonymically, too, the room or building housing such as collection is also called a library.
The term ‘library’ is derived from liber, a Latin word meaning book. Originally, a library simply means a collection of books and other written or printed materials. This is quite evident from the etymology of the term/word. It is by extension of meaning and function that other non-printed materials came to be included in library became part of modern libraries, for space economy, accuracy and speed. Computers have capacity for accurate storage of huge amount of information and so conserve space. They also facilitate quick data processing and retrieval of information, they save time.
To say that libraries are important is to state the obvious, in fact “the level of development of any country can be judged from the development of its library and information resources because knowledge is power and ignorance is poverty and impotence” (Nwali , 2005:121). May we also add that the level of an individual’s offence such information resources as the library provides.
Library is important in any research, it is a place where you et your material. So the question is? What is library? It is a store house that is systematic, it is a place where information are guarded and gained from printed materials and non-printed material for the purpose of research for entertainment. Examples of printed materials are: book, dictionary, newspapers, magazine, head-out whereas non-printed materials includes audio-tapes, films, C.D’s, electronic book.
There are two important aimds of library
i) The library Staff
ii) Classification system
These are the functions of library
1. Reading place
2. Reading material
3. Inter-library borrowing
4. Intra-library borrowing
5. Photocopies of books
6. Binding of books
7. References services such as, year book, big book, heads book, dictionary.
8. They provided researched services ie book that are very hard to fine, in that case, it is for you to make proper use.
9. In library we have past examination question stored in the library
10. They provide audio visually service, projections such as sound system, P.A. macro films.
11. Newspaper are provided in the library, every day newspapers are being analysed and catalogue for an important information.
12. There are publications that comes in serials, section in the library.
13. Government publications are kept in the library ie white paper and green paper.
14. Staff services are returned in the library for you to find what you are looking for.
15. Virtue library or internet library.
Types of Libraries
Libraries are of different types, classified according to the host/maintaining organisation or institution, purpose, content and the general pattern of their services. Therefore, we have six types of libraries which include the national, public, special, private school and academic libraries.
1. National Libraries
National libraries are owned and maintained by the central government of their host countries. They are established to serve the needs government bodies and citizens of the nation as a whole. (nwali, 2005). National libraries are legal depositories of all copyrighted publications of their country. Their collections cover a whole spectrum of knowledge consisting of bulk of domestic publications and item gathered from all over the world. Examples of National libraries include the National Library of Nigeria, Abuja with branches in Lagos and some other states of the federation. The British library/Museum in London; library of Congress, Washington; Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, Lenin State Library, Moscow; etc.
Public libraries are those that offer their collections and services to all members of the community free of charge. They are maintained from public funds, in Nigeria, public libraries are state-owned and they are found in major towns and cities. The basic function of public libraries is to make informational resources available to the citizens in the community it serves. Examples of public libraries include: Chinua Achebe’s Library, Prof. Benson Oluikpe.
Otherwise known as college and university libraries. Academic libraries are those found in institutions of higher learning. They are normally part of a university, college or polytechnic and are often considered the most important resource of the institution. Academic libraries are meant for the students and staff of the institution. Students and/or staff may wish to conduct research within any conceivable academic discipline. Because of this, the collections of academic libraries especially in developed societies, usually reflect a vast range of interests and formats. However, courses or subjects offered in the mother institution are usually emphasized in the collection of academic libraries. According to Nwali (2005), the world largest academic library is Havard University Library with more than ten billion volumes. Examples of academic libraries in Nigeria include university of Nigeria, Nsukka; IMT library, Enugu; University of Ibadan Library, Ibadan, etc.
Academic libraries carryout the same functions and duties as all the categories discussed above but the main function is to provide materials for teaching and research. An academic library, like the public libraries, runs a loan service and displays exhibitions for the general public, but its prime obligation is to the members of the institution of which it forms a part. To emphasize the importance and contribution of academic libraries following Obasikene et al (2002) it is necessary to remark that:
a) The main function of academic library is to organize and develop the teaching and research material of the institution. The character, efficiency and reputation of an institution of higher education can be judged by the treatment of the library.
b) The library is the centre of higher learning particularly university education. Much educational breakthrough depend upon resources of the library and the degree of such advancement is proportional to the library. This is why universities strive to have well-equipped libraries.
c) The library is the great conservatory of learning. Every generation uses the library as a means of realizing its aims and objectives. A good library is a permanent investment, guaranteeing returns for centuries to come.
d) The academic library is necessary for proper exploitation of intellectual resources. A high quality becomes possible if a good library is available. Also, a good library attracts high quality staff and distinguished academics.
e) The library is essential to the maintenance of free access to ideas and current research finding.
School libraries are those attached to primary and secondary schools. Their main function is to support various educational programs and to develop pupils and students’ skills in locating and using information, above all, to promote reading skills and habits. Teachers use school libraries to access information needed to develop and support their classroom instruction. Students use the materials in school libraries to perform their class work and assignments. School libraries usually maintain collections in variety of media. In addition to book, magazine and newspaper, school libraries may contain photographs, films, sounds and video recordings, computers, CD-ROMS, games and maps. However, they normally lay emphasis on the school curriculum, the society and the world around children and adolescents. In Nigeria, only private libraries are somewhat adequately stocked. Generally, though libraries in Nigeria are poorly developed due to inadequate policies, staff and funding (whose root cause is corruption) the worst effected is the library system.
Many corporations, private business, government agencies, museums, religious institutions, hospitals, associations and other organizational maintain their own libraries to serve the specialized needs of their employer of members. These libraries are commonly called special libraries, but they may also be called information centres, research centres or technical libraries (Encarta). The needs of organizations they serve determines the collections of special libraries. Law firms, for example, maintain its own libraries or legal documents for use by their lawyers and staff, while hospital may operate libraries of materials in the health sciences to serve its doctors, nurses and other medical staff. Special libraries perform the same functions as other libraries. But in addition to this, they evaluate package and present information to users in ways designed to increase productivity and add to the efficiency of their parent oorganisation. They achieve these goals by reducing the time that employees spend searching for data and by providing pointed information that facilitate improved decision making. Example of organisation that maintain special libraries include Nigerian national Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Taxaco, the Rubber Research Institute, etc.
As the name implies, private libraries are those owned and maintained by individuals who are interested in the advancement of knowledge. Their collections are usually limited to the interest of the owners. Many libraries owe a great debt to private book collectors who donate their personal libraries to institution for wider use. A number of such collections formed foundation of respected independent research libraries. Most ended up in public or academic libraries. For example, the private library of American financier, John Pierpont Morgan was made into the Pierpont Morgan library, a public research library in New York. In 1983, the Lilly Library of Indiana University acquired the 10,000 volume children’s book collection of Elizabeth Ball, a daughter of a successful glass manufacturer in Munice, Indiana. In Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s 8,000 volumes formed the core collection of university of Nigeria Nsukka library, while Dr. henry Carr’s collection formed the foundation of university of Ibadan library.
Reference materials are those materials containing specialized knowledge. They are usually kept in special sections of the library and marked on the spine with ‘R’ or ‘Ref’. Most reference materials cannot be ‘checked out’- removed; they are for everyone’s use. In large libraries with reference sections, reference librarians are often available for users who need special help with reference to materials.
There are several types of reference books/materials. They include the following:
1) The dictionary (standard and special dictionaries)
5) Biographical Reference Books
6) Literature Reference Books
Let us take the above reference materials one after the other.
1. The Dictionary
The dictionary is most probably the commonest reference book you know and use most often. Dictionaries are of two types, broadly: the standard dictionaries and the special dictionaries.
Dictionaries provide some basic information about the word. Such information include all, but not limited to the basic piece of information we have of the words we claim to know (see ff) (pick up your dictionary to conform the following information).
1. The dictionary provides ‘guide words’ when you open your dictionary, there are words printed at the top of each page to show the first and last word on the page or adjacent pages.
2. Word entries are made in bold face type in alphabetical order.
3. Other forms of the word such as plural, pumped part of verbs, comparative forms of adjectives and adverbs, and possible derivatives are also given. This is morphological knowledge.
4. Dots are used to indicate syllables in word entries. These syllable markers show where words may be divided with systems at the end of a lien of writing. Example: dic.ta.tor.ship. phonological knowledge.
5. Pronunciation is shown with phonetic writing or simplified spellings. These are enclosed in parenthesis immediately after the word. This is phonetic knowledge.
6. Usage markers and information usually show whether or not the word is used in formal English; for some verbs, possible collocates and whether transitive or intransitive, etc. grammatical information.
7. The part of speech of the word is shown by an abbreviation such as ‘n’ for noun, ‘v’ for verb, ‘adj’ for adjective, ‘adv’ for adverb, etc. for noun, abbreviations are used to show whether countable or uncountable.
8. Homographs, word spelt identically but whose meanings differ are listed separately. Superscript raised numbers are used to distinguish them. For example. di.et1 …diet2 …diet3.
9. Phrases and compound words appear as entries
10. Synonyms (words that mean nearly the same) often appear after definitions, with ‘see’ suggesting you see the dictionary entry for the synonymous word.
11. Definition of the words are provided after the word entry, the pronunciati0oon and usage information. When a word has many definitions, they are member with Arabic numerals.
Note that some dictionaries also provide examples of how words are used in sentences. Note also that to make the most effective use of the dictionary, always check for meanings of abbreviations for usage labels usually provided in the front or preliminary pages of the dictionary. Other useful guide to using the dictionary are also found there.
Special dictionaries include unabridged dictionaries which are more extensive versions of the standard dictionaries – they give more information on word histories, usage, foreign and phrases commonly used in English, and new words and idiomatic expressions. Special dictionaries also detail greater distinctions between words with similar meanings. In addition, they often contain charts and tables on such subjects as constellations, crusade and standard time throughout the world.
When you need to find complete information about a word or when you need specialized information, use an unabridged dictionary. Other types of special dictionaries are dictionaries of synonymous (Thesarus), Dictionary of sciences, dictionaries of medicine etc. special dictionaries suh as thesaurus often do not provide definition of wrds; they are only useful for refreshment of your memory about words whose meaning you already know, or better used in conjunction with a dictionary. It helps to increase your vocabulary.
An encyclopedia is a book or set of books with collection of articles on wide variety of subjects in every branch of knowledge or in one particular branch, arranged alphabetically. Encyclopedias vary in size from one volume to up to thirty volumes. The multivolume sets usually have a separate volume, called an index, which refers the user to volumes and pages where subjects are covered. It is necessary to consult the index to be certain that you have found all the information the encyclopedia contains on your subject. This is because some subjects are treated in articles with different headings that are related. For example, the subject of “holography” might be treated in articles headed “Holography”, “Laser”, and Dr. Denis Gabor (credited as the inventor of holography). Only by checking the index can these be pointed out. Another important volume that is part of many encyclopedia is the yearbook. This year book, which is published annually, is a way of keeping information current that might otherwise become dated very quickly.
Some examples of encyclopedia found in the libraries include “Collier’s Encyclopedia” (24 volumes), “Encyclopedia Britrinica”(30 volumes), “Encyclopedia Americana” (30 volumes and “world Book Encyclopedia (22 volumes). Also, there are one and two volume encyclopedias best known among which are “The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia” (one volume), and “Lincoln Library of Essential Information” (2 volumes).
The “Encyclopedia Britrinca” has a relatively new approach to locating information. The first eleven volumes amount to an index with entries arranged in alphabetical order. By first looking up an article in these volumes called “Micropedia”, the user can learn not only the various places were the subject is treated in greater depth but also find basic reference data about the subject. The remaining nineteen volumes are called the Macropedia. They contain more detailed articles about many subjects and people.
Although encyclopedia are relatively detailed, they are limited in their treatment of most subjects and cannot be seen as conclusive. They are at best, used as springboards to further research. The encyclopedia simply give an overview of the subject which can help users identify question to answer and particular area to explore. Also, reference provided at the end of many encyclopedia articles often refer to books and materials with more specialized information.
Biographic Reference Books (Biographies)
Biographic reference books are books containing information about notable people in various fields of endeavour. Such information may be about historical figures, great religious leaders, statesmen and women inventors, writers and authors, artists, music composers, freedom fighters, etc. Examples of biographical dictionary which represents short biographies of famous people in one volume; who is who, an annually published Britishwork giving current information about famous Americans, others include universal Biographic Dictionary, National Biographic Dictionary (current and Retrospective), etc. In addition, there are also specialized biographies such as Who is who in American Law. The writers directory, Twentierth century Authors, etc.
Almanac (Yearbooks) Atlases and Gacetteers
Almanac is an annually published book of facts and figures on a wide range of subjects. It is useful in finding up-to-date information on current eevents, sports, politics, industry, arts, etc commonly used almanac include World Almanac and Book of Facts. The Official Associated Press Almanac, Nigerian Yearbook, commonwealth yearbook, etc.
An atlas is a book of maps, useful for identifying places and geopgraphic landmarks. Standard atlases contain geographic maps and information of all countries in the world. Examples: The encyclopedia Britannica Atlas, Hammond Contemporary World Atlas, etc. a Gazeiteer is a dictionary or index of places, usually with reproductive or statistical information. Example: Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the world, Gacetteer of Sokoto Emirate, etc.
Directories are list of persons or organisation, systematically arranged in alphabetical or classified order addresses, usually with information about what they do and how to contact them. Examples: telephone directory, and many other professional biographic directories such as medical directories etc.
Indexes and Abstracts
These reference materials help the researcher to locate journals in which some articles relevant to a particular topic can be located. An index to periodicals systematically arranges list of articles from various periodicals, giving enough information about each item to enable it to be traced. It is sort of a guide to contents of a number of listed periodicals. It must not be confused with indexes in books or journals which are list of item or topics dealt with in the publication with reference to the pages where the topic are treated. Indexes can be general – not confined to a specific subject, - such Readers Guide to periodical Index, or confined to a special subject such as Art Index. They can as well be specific to a particular periodicals.
An abstract is a summary of a p[ublication or article accompanied by details of the original to enable the publication or article to be traced. Abstracts can carry only a brief statement on the article published in a journal, in which case it is said to be indicative abstract, or contain enough summary of the article to gain information or knowledge in which case it is refered to as onformative abstract.
The major difference between abstracts and indexes is that whereas the former give summaries of the article or make statements about the articles, the latter do not; they merely guide the inquirer to periodical articles relevant to a particular topic. Examples of abstracts: British Medical Abstracts; Chemical abstracts; etc. abstracts assists students and researcher to determine which article to read and which to ignore and so save valuable time.
Concordances are books which index almost every word in a particular book. They arrange words in alphabetical order and often give information about the meanings and contexts of listed words. Examples: complete concordance to the old and new testaments, etc.
ORGANISATION OF LIBRARY RESOURCES
Because libraries usually contain a vast amount of materials, users might never find the information they need if the materials are not carefully organized. For instance, it will be very difficult, in short, time-wasting and often a matter of luck to pick a particular book from a heap of 500 or more books, mixed up of different subjects. It will be less difficult if you have to pick from a stack of the same number of books – ie the books are one-on-top of another according to similarity. It will be easy if the books are shelved and each compactment of the shelf labeled according to the type of books in it. You can see that the more orderly it is, the easier it is for one to locate materials and retrieve information needed. Now supposing you hhave a hall with about one hundred stacks, fifty piles, three hundred heaps of books and 10 shelfes to to pick one book form.
To provide library users with convincent and logical access to materials, librarians have developed systematic procedures to organize their collections. Libraries have ways of classifying and arranging their materials on the library shelves. Although different libraries organize their materials differently, all use some type of common system to catalogue or index their collections.
Classification and Cataloguing
Oftentimes, library users, especially in this part of the world, go to the library with sufficient collection to cover their need, yet come back without being able to find needed information. A student who does not have the basic understanding of the common systems of cataloging and classification will suffer and die of academic malnurishment in the midst of plenty.
Cataloguing refers to listing and description of the holdings or collections of library, usually arranged according to subject, title, or author. The records containing this information is called catalogue. In essence, catalogue is in index to the libraryls collections or holdings that enables users to locate materials. By searching through the catalogue, library users determine whether the library own the materials they need. In many cases, catalogue information enable the patron to make information informed decision as to whether the item listed suits his or her needs or not. He or she does not need to handle the material and glance through before manking such decision. Typically, catalogue records list the item’s author, its title, its subject data of publication, the name of its publisher and other information. The catalogue record also contain the item’s call number, a combination of letters and numbers used to classify the work. The call number also indicates the location of the item in the library. Basically and in most cases, library catalogue limit their listing to their holdings – the item the library own. However, library catalogue may include listings for the holding of other libraries as well library catalogues including listing for holdings of multiple libraries are called union catalogues.
There are many kinds of catalogue. They include book catalogue, card catalogues, microfiche catalogue, and computerized catalogs in either CD-ROM or online format. Majority of libraries and their patrons now use computerized catalogues
a) Book Catalogues
This is the fiest kind of catalogue introduced in the late 16th century and it remained popular till the 19th/20th century. Book catalogue list the holding of the library in a catalogue book form. The major advantage of this kind of catalogue is its probability. Again, it is inexpensive to produce in multiple copies. But its great disadvantage is that it is not easily updated; libraries need issue supplements to list new items acquired by the library. Some modern libraries though few, contive to publish book catalogue- to complement other kinds.
b) Card Catalogue
The catalogue are entries printed on cards in a big cabinet with a series of drawers arranged alphabetically according to labels on the drawes and the letters included in them. For example, the drawers may be labeled thus: A – Boc, Bod-Cas, Ma-Md and so on. There are three types of card catalogue: author entry/card in which the authors name or other persons of institutions that contributed to do the work written on the top; little entry card with with the stille of the book or other item on the top line. The subject heading is usually printed in all capital or in red for further emphasis. The catalogue’s advantage is that it could easily be expanded by filling new cards as the library added new materials. In addition, more than one person could use the card catalogue at any given time. These are the reasons why it largely replaced the book catalogue in the late 19th century. Today, though card catalogue is still widely used, its popularity has begun to decline due to the adoption of computerized catalogue by many libraries.
Computerized catalogues often refered to as online public access catalogues (OPACS) provide broader access to library collection by allowing more sophisticated searching of the catalogue both from locations within and outside the library building through the internet. Many modern libraries have turned to the OPACS because of its vast advantages. It has cause stofage capacity, speed and precision. However, libraries with small operating budgets have difficulty raising the needed fund to convert book catalogue or card catalogues into machine-readable formats that computers can use.
REGISTRATION FOR MEMBERSHIP OF LIBRARIES
Patrons become members of libraries on registration. In academic libraries, only registered staff and students can be allowed access to library resources and services. On registration, users are given borrower’s tickets which are not transferable and any loss of borroower’s tickers should be reported immediately for replacement.
BENEFITS OF LIBRARY MEMBERSHIP
i. Bonafide members of libraries are allowed access to library resources and services during opening hours.
ii. Users can borrow books for use outside the library. At Ebonyi State University Library Abakaliki, undergraduates get one borrower’s ticket on registration. This means that such a student can borrow two books for a maximum of one month. Borrowed books can be renewed if no other person wanted them.
iii. Benefits from inter-library co-operation. This is aimed at resource sharing as no library can be self-sufficient in resources. In this respect, registered members of libraries can be given letters of introduction to use other libraries. They can also borrow books from co-operating libraries for maximum utilization of available resources.
LIBRARY ETIQUETTE OR LIBRARY RULES AND REGULATION
Organizations whether big or small have rules and regulations governing them. The library is no exception in this regard. The rules and regulations apply to both library staff and users. This is because, library staff should practice what they preach.
Stealing in libraries is an anti-social activity. This is because the thief deprives present and future generations acess to stolen information.
Mutilation of books such as tearing of pages and marking on books and journals are not allowed in the libraries. Instead of tearing pages of books and journals , one can request to photocopy. What may be of interest to one one user to necessitate marking may not be of interest to another user. Hence marking is prohibited in library books and journals.
The library is for individual worl and not for group work which could result in noise making. Some users become lecturers in the Libraries and disturbing other users. Libraries staffs are sometimes quality of noise making in Libraries and disturbing serious users. By and large, the Library should be as noiseless as possible.
iv. Eating and Drinking in Libraries
It is a common observation to see users eating and dringking in Libraries, thereby disturbing other users. Libraries staffs are sometimes quality of noise making in Libraries and disturbing serious users. By and large, the Library should be as noiseless as possible.
v. Tidy Library
Dirty surroundings are not conducive to human books. Libraries whether rich or poor provide waste paper baskets for use by patrons. Library staff and users should keep the library tidy by making use of the waste paper baskets as and when necessary.
The danger of smoking in libraries cannot be over estimated. Smoking disturbs non-smokers and prevents them from concentration. Above all accidental fires from cigarette tips could born whole library collection to ashes.
vii. Reservation of Seats
A standard library should be able to accommodate 25% of all the users at one time. This implies that no library no matter how highly placed can provide sears for all users at any given time. It is a common knowledge to find users reserving seating spaces for their friends who are still at home. Therefore reserving of limited spaces are not allowed in libraries.
Fighting in libraries with staff and users are not allowed. Fighting is an anti-social activity which could prevent proper functioning of any library. Fighting could disturb staff and serious library users and could lead to the destruction of library resources.
Pets such as dogs and cats are not allowed in the library. This is because pets could turn nuisance in any library environment if they are allowed freely.
x. Sleeping in the Library
Sleeping is not allowed in the library. Users should learn to use their time properly by sleeping outside the library when necessary and reading in the library as and when due.
This implies using false name or address to register or get library resources. Some library patrons use the names of their friends and the library in a problem situation. Therefore impersonation in libraries is a criminal offence and should be avoided.
Comprehension and Interpretation
To comprehend means to understand an expression or a given passage. To interpret means to explain that is written in a passage – The meaning of words and ideas. When you understand that you have read, you can express it in your own words and can explain it to others correctly.
Comprehension and interpretation is important in all human endeavour. Ability to understand and interpret means the ability to communicate effectively to others what you understand and can interpret.
Therefore, comprehension is an academic exercise of testing your understanding of language in a given text. It also tests.
v How well you can read and pay attention to detail.
v How successfully you can pick the main ideas of a passage rather than the details.
Preparing for Exercises in Comprehension and Interpretation
Comprehension passages are usually taken from familiar texts. The students is alone in his effort to get out the necessary information from written material before him. The writer might have used difficult concepts to express his thought: again he might have added many irrelevant items of information or might have mixed up ideas in such a way that they are difficult to understand… Therefore, the reader needs to do a lot of thinking in order to get full comprehension of the points the author is making (Nduka, 1997, p. 18)
On the basis of this:
1) Read the passage through to determine its theme topic. In a few words, write down the theme. Read the questions again.
2) Read the passage again to determine the attitude of the author to his subject. Then write down the authors approach or attitude to the theme. Read through the questions again.
3) The final reading of the passage is to ensure an understanding of every detail of content and of style. In doing this you should note the relevant details.
4) Write out the answers to the questions. Use your own words, unless you were asked to quote from the passage. When you answer the questions, ensure you use the tense of the verb of the question.
i. Why did the children go to the river that morning?
i. The children always go to the river to fish that morning wrong
i.The children are going to the river to fish that morning wrong
i. The children went to the river to fish, that morning correct
5) If the passage contains figures of speech, note their significance and impact in the write-up.
Note: If you are practicing comprehension exercises you should always consult your dictionary, encyclopedia, the internet, and others to establish. The meaning of any unknown words or expressions.
Questions on Comprehension
1. Question on vocabulary
It is assumed that you have a vast knowledge of vocabulary. The examiner therefore, wants to ascertain the level of that knowledge.
What is …?
What is the meaning of …?
Give the denotative (or connotative) meaning of …
what does the author mean by…
Suggest another word or expression for…
You may be asked to deal with specific words, phrases or clauses.
2. Question on Interpretation
You may be required to explain or export certain points in the passage
3. Explanation of Content
You may be asked to
(a) Express the sentence in a simpler form, or show the significance of the sentence in the general argument.
(b)Summarise certain paragraphs in one or more sentences.
(c) Suggest a title for the passage
A thorough comprehension of the passage indicate that you may or may not agree with the opinion of the author. You may be tested on your ability commune or criticize certain ideas in the passage.
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
When Eze was invited to spend his easter holidays with uncle Chike in Lagos, he jumped for joy! He ahd alwas pictured Lagos as a wonderland of bright lights, paved roads, elegant people riding by in their expensive cars and beautiful residential quarters. This invitation was the wonderful opportunity for him to leave his small willage for the first time and experience first-hand, the good life of the city that he had imagined so much about!
The fateful day came and Eze, happy as a lark, bid an excited good-bye to his family. The first leg of this trip started modestly in the back of the rickety lorry that plied the dirt road linking his village to the rest of the world, but Eze was sure that he would later ride triumphantly into Lagos on one of those legendary luxury buses that he admired so much. This was also an experience to look forward to!
When he arrived in Lagos, it was almost dark. The first thing that struck him as he alighted from the bus were the teeming crowd with their desperate unsmiling faces, the deafening noise of the ceaseless traffic, the polluted air with its acrid smell of exhaustfumes and decay the endless rows of dirty and crumbling concrete buildings, and the filfth everywhere. What a sharp contrast with the city he had built up in his imagination! But surely there must still be much to look forward to back in the village, uncle Chike was regarded as a well-to-do trader so Eze was further surprised and disappointed to find out that he lived in a single room in a sleazy part of the city. At night, it got hot and stuffy, but they dared not open th4e windows as this would bring the invasion of mosquitoes.
Eze woke up the next morning feeling clammy, but he could still not have a bath. As this unce took him to a shack across the street for a hurried breakfast of thin tea and mouldy bread he explained that they usually bought water from a mobile tanker that had not come around for some time. Eze was still recovering from his surprise at his information when they rushed off for his first unpleasant ride in one of the notorious molue buses of the city.
As they struggled down from the bus shoving against the solid mass of desperate, bad tempered commuters, Eze thought of his village and the city suddenly lost whatever was left of its attraction for him. T4rue, the village was small; life there was monotonous, and it lacked some essential amenities. But it was peaceful; you drank clean water and ate what you wanted fresh, you moved about freely and breathed clean air, and everyone was friendly and helpful. Greatly disillusioned with the city, Eze longed to return to his beloved village!
(a) State two experiences that Eze looked forward to.
(b) Mention any two features of the city that Eze noticed at once
(c) What two discoveries surprised and dissappointed Eze when he arrived in the city?
(d) Mention any two experiences in the city that Eze found unpleasant.
(e) What conclusion did Eze draw from his experiences in the city?
(f) “……………happy as lark….. “What figure of speech is contained in this expression?
(g) “when he arrived in Lagos”
(gi) What grammatical name is given to this expression as it is used in the passage
(gii) What is its function?
(h) For each of the following words, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage.
(i)Pictured (ii)Stuffy (iii) invasion (iv) hurried (v) attraction
ANSWERS TO COMPREHENSION QUESTION
1(a) (i) A life of comfort in the city
ii) A ride into Lagos in a legendary luxury bus
b)(i) A teeming crowd
(ii) The pollution all over the environment
(iii)The deafening noise of ceaseless traffic
(c)(i) The city of Lagos was not as attractive as he thought.
(ii) His uncle lived in a single room.
(iii) His uncle lived in a leazy part of the city
(d) (i) He wasn’t able to take his bath
(ii)His uncle’s room was hot and stuffy at night.
(iii) He had a poor breakfast.
(e) Life in the village is better than life in Lagos
(g) (i) Adverbial clause 9of time)
(ii) Modifies the verb ‘was’
(h) (i) Pictured – thought of, imagined
(ii) Stuffy – without fresh air, airless
(iii) Invasion – Attack, influx
(iv) Hurried – hasty, quick
(v) Attraction – admiration, appeal, fascination
(vi) Monotous – dull, boring.
It is no longer news that the social and economic problems of African countries continue to worsen. What we experience daily are the cicious consequences of unemployment, inadequate health and educational facilities, urban squalor resulting from a population bursting at the seams and, most friughtening of all, the rate at which crime is rising.
It is also no longer news that many Africans now see “Checking out” of their countries for other supposedly better ones abroad as the only solution to the problems. In this regard, the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany and Italy are the hot favourites. Most of these Africans are usually so desperate to leave that they fall easy prey to all sorts of passport and visa fraud, and often end up smuggling themselves abroad at all costs. In such countries, they have to do all manner of menial jobs, sometimes resorting to criminal activities, and are often cut off completely from families and relations back home. Young girls who who have been enticed with assurances of a rosy future often end up in forced prostitution, with all its unpleasant consequences!
Is “checking out”, the ideal solution to africa’s social and economic problems? Of course not! What is baffling is why Africans cannot see abandoning their coutries as a step that holds out no solution at all. All that they achieve, in fact, is the substitution of one set of problems for another! What then should we do? We must develop the will to tackle our problems. Where there is a will, it is said, there is a way. If we abandon our problems instead of tackling them head on, we will simply be leaving an unpleasant legacy for future generations. Secondly, we must orient ourselves towards self-reliance and self-employment, instead of looking helplessly to our embattled governments for salaried employment. Finally, we must seek a long-ter5m solution by addressing the population question. It is obvious that africa’s outsize population is at the roof of the problems. The question we should ask ourselves is, if the average family size in America or Britain were to be as large as the average African family, would these countries still be as attractive to us as they are now? The big puzzle is that we have adopted the white man’s lifestyle in all other respects, but have made an exception of family size.
(a) Mention two consequences of the usual desperation of Africans to leave their countries.
(b) The writer argues that escaping abroad is not the ideal solution to africa’s problems. Quote one sentence from the passage that sums up the writer’s recommended solution.
(c) According to the writer, why should Africans solve their problems rather than avoid them?
(d) What does the writer consider the most serious cause of Africa’s problem?
(e) What does the writer imply by using the word “supposedly” in the second paragraph?
(f) “What we experience daily……”
(i) What grammatical name is given to this expression as it is used in the passage?
(ii) What is its function?
(g) “…..a population bursting at the seams…..”
What figure of speech is contained in this expression?
(h) For each of the following words or phrases, find another word or phrase which means the same and which can replace it as it is used in the passage.
(i) Prey (ii) enticed, (iii) ideal, (iv) holds out, (v) tackle, (vi) head-on
ANSWERS TO COMPREHENSION QUESTION
2)(a) (i) They easily fall prey to passport and visa fraud.
(ii) They smuggle themselves out at all cost, out of the country.
(b) ‘We must look inwards for a more realistic solution’.
(c) To avoid leaving an unpleasant legacy for our future generations.
(d) large family size
(e) It is only an imagination by Africans
(f) (i) noun clause
(ii) Subject of the verb ‘are’.
(h) (i) Prey – victim
(ii) enticed – persuaded, convinced, lured
(iii) Ideal – besr, actual, sincere, perfect
(iv) Hold out – offer, proffer, bring, produce
(v) Tackle – confront, handle, deal with, face
(vi) Head on – directly, seriously, squarely.
Précis and Summary
You listened to a speech or you read a passage and was later requested to report what you heard or read. Obviously, it is only the important points that you would render. This also applies in a situation where you stood in for your establishment in an official or informal engagement. Your presentation would be a summary of the event unless you deliberately included other extraneous details.
‘A précis is an abridgment or summary of the subject-matter either of a single document, or of a series of documents or letters on one topic. Its purpose is to present the gist of the document (or documents) in a clear and concise form, so that it may be easily understood and quickly associated” (Pink and Thomas, 1981, p. 216)
Writing good précis, some points to note:
i) Include all the important facts, omit irrelevant ones.
ii) The length should be about one-third of the original passage, unless where a word limit is specified. It should, normally be contained in one paragraph.
iii) Summaries of speeches and of dialogue should be in one third person (indirect speech) and the past tense. If it is a literary passage, the person and tense of the original may be retained. However, note the demands of your examiner.
iv) Write in a simple and clear language. Reduce figurative expressions to plain and straight forward English. If a phrase in the original expresses an idea in the best possible way, retain it.
v) If the facts in the passage are badly arranged, re-arrange it in logical sequence, provided it ideas does not distort the message.
vi) Keep ideas clearly connected if you must use connectives, use them wisely.
Methods to be used in writing précis
i) Read the passage well to determine the main topic
ii) Give it a title even if it is not asked for
iii) Read the passage again slowly and underline the important points
iv) Make brief notes of the points, using your own words.
v) Write the summary, using the notes you made before
vi) Count the words in your writing, increase or reduce, if need be, without omitting important ideas
vii) Read your work finally to ensure it is intelligible to a reader who had never seen the original, that it is in readable English, and that the grammar and punctuation are correct.
viii) At the base of your writing, indicate the number of words.
We said that précis writing involves reducing a passage to about one-third of its original length. Summary also involves reduction, but the candidate is limited to a given number of correct and complete sentences.
Summary is a complex and subtle form of comprehension where you may be given a single complex question or instruction to find two or more ideas that may be relevant to the passage and report them without wasting words.
This kind of practice helps students to extract from given passages relevant points, key facts and main ideas while avoiding extraneous materials such as extra examples, elaboration, illustrations, irrelevances, trivialities and so on. It forces students to understand, in a given passage, the fundamental line of thought and report of briefly and precisely (Omachonu, 2003 p. 81).
Guidelines for Summary Writing
i) First, read the instruction or question
ii) Ensure you know what the question requires
iii) Take note of the instruction that indicates the main ideas required
iv) Read the passage fairly quickly, looking for those specific ideas you had noted in (iii)
v) Read the relevant parts more slowly paying more attention to it.
vi) Decide on the parts that are relevant. Leave the remainder
vii) Then write the summary sticking to the required number of sentences
viii) Write in your own words except if asked to lift from the passage.
1. Read the following passage carefully and then answer the question on it.
Katsina has for years been famous in different reasons. Certain qualities have recommended the town as an inland “port of call” for travelers. Katsina has long had an enviable record of possessing strong and resourceful farmers. Many of these have almost perfected the art of growing grains side by side with raising animals like goats are sheep, cows, horses and donkeys. Horses and donkeys are raised for their traditional role of keeping man’s company and facilitating his movement from one point to the other. The other animals have been kept as sources of milk, meat and economic strength.
Katsina as a focal town has for long prided herself on the presence of good crop of artisans and craftmen. Their dept of originality has formed the theme of folkore and songs. Most of these artisans engage in such activities as blacksmitting, leatherwork and woodcarving. Their products easily provide some explanation for some of the queues of travelers who stream into Katsina. The elegance of these artisans’ output both ral and imagined provides an extra attraction for the undecided visitors. Many would probably have remained unimpressed even with the commonly heard lines. “Those who can see admire the beauty of katsina. Those who are blind simply inhale it”.
Stories about the artisans have for ages successfully swayed many reluctant passers-by to make a stope in katsina. Some of such calls have been brief and business like with callers simplers simply focusing on satisfying their curiosity. Other callers have stopped, mixed with people and forgetting to move on. This class of visitors would partly explain an interesting aspect of Katsina’s population. The town has witnessed moments of drought and famine but such have hardly keft their mark on the population.
Another segment of katsina’s population has always occupies itself with some unique form of wares. Most them merely engage in passing the word on the availability of this or that produce of item. Some go on to arrange contacts between sellers and their potential buyers. In certain instances these information carriers might choose the location of the meeting, the time of day or night and the individuals that would form the requirements for a particular trade contact. It is not uncommon to find a chance meeting opening up a temporary or enduring association between a young lady and a prospective suitor. The beauty of Katsina has not been limited to its geographical and tradition eminence. The different groups of inhabitants have also combined to give the town a character of its own.
· In six sentences, two for each group, summarise the major contributions by the following to the eminence of Katsina (a) farmers; (b) artisans; (c) traders.
ANSWERS TO SUMMARY QUESTIONS
(ai) Farmers grow grains such as rice, wheat etc.
(ii) Farmers rear animals such as goat, sheap, cows, horses and donkey
Marking: This attracts zero because of enumeration of crops and animals.
(bi) Artisans engage in black-smithing, leatherwork and woodcarving
(ii) Artisans make travelers to queue in Katsina
Marking: The candidate will score zero for mindless lifting from the passage.
(ci) Traders, bring buyers and sellers together.
Marking (i) The candidate will be penalized for grammatical error (i.e using comma to separate the subject from the sentence).
(ii) Traders give information
Marking – the candidate will be penalized because the sentence is incomplete.
(ai) Farmers grow crops
(ii) farmers rear domestic animals
(bi) Artisans product attracts vistors
(ii) Artisans produce beautiful wares
(ci) Traders bring buyers and sellers together
(ii) Traders give information about products for sale or traders advertise the available products.
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions on it.
For some, grass is just the green stuff outside the house that they have to mow. For farmers and football players, it is indispensible. For children, it is the ideal playground. And those who live in most urban areas assume they have very little to do with grass of any sort. However, almost all of us have daily contact with some type of grass of any sort. However, almost all of us have daily contact with some types of grass and the product made from it.
Grass makes up a major part of the vegetation that covers the earth. And no wonder, since it is one of the most adaptable plant groups on earth, growing in popular regions and deserts, in tropical rain forests, and on wind-swept mountain slopes. Entire vegetation areas are dominated by grass.
Unlike many other plants, grass grows, not at the tip, but in growth areas above the nodes. New shoots might start from stems, growuing horizontally on or under the ground. So when the lawn mower or the cow cuts away the tip, or fire rages through a field, grass keeps growing, whereas many other plants stop. Furthermore, with most grasses, if the stem is bent iver by the wind or trodden underfoot, it can raise itself erect by growing faster on the side facing the ground. For these reasons, grass usually recovers quickly after being damaged, which gives it an edge over other plants in the fight for sunlight.
Grass is not only the most abundant but also the most important flowering plant family on earth. A botanist once described grass as the foundation of our food. It is “like a dam protecting mankind from famine”. Try to remember what you ate today. Did you start with a bowl of cereal made with millet, rice, oats or sorghum? Well, then you ate grass seeds. Or perhaps you had a roll or other kinds of bread. The flour used was made from grass kernels-wheat, rice, barley and other grains are all grasses. Cornflakes and other corn products are no exception, as corn or maize is a grass too. You had sugar in your tea or coffee? More than half of all sugar is made from sugarcane, a grass. Grass is not only good for food, however, if your house has walls made of clay and straw; it is grass that gives them the necessary strength. In different parts of the world, roofs are thatch with grass. One of the advantages of such roofs is that they keep the inferior of the buildings cool regardless of the external temperature.
Grass covers and adorns much of the earh. Apart from the beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing sight of a green meadow or a well-kept lawn, grass is a major oxygen supplier, because of the sheer mass of the green vegetation that it produces.
Finally, its fine roots perform the all-important function of protecting the soil from erosion. Keeping its versatility in mind, we are not surprised to learn that the usage and cultivation of grass has a long history. The next time you see a waving cornfield,a lush green meadow, or just humble blades of grass growing between stones in a sidewalk, you might stop and think of this marvelous and most versatile plant family!
a) In two sentences, one for each, summarise the two reasons why grass forms a major part of the earth’s vegetation.
b) In four sentences, one for each, summarise the four ways in which grass is useful to humans.
(a) (i) Grass is one of the most adaptable plant groups on earth.
(ii) Grass recovers quickly after being damaged
Marking: The candidate will be awarded zero for mindless lifting from the passage.
(b) (i)Grass beautify the environment
Marking: The candidate’s answer is not a sentence. Also, if taken with the preamble, does not make a sentence.
(iii) Grass supplied oxygen.
Marking: The candidate will be penalized for using past simple tense in place of present tense.
(iv) Grass serves as food for man, woman, children and animals.
Marking: The last part of the sentence is irrelevant and will affect the candidate’s score.
(a) (i) Grass adapts to harsh conditions
(ii) Grass survives easily
(b) (i) Grass beautifies the environment.
ii) Grass checks (soil) erosion
iii) Grass supplies oxygen (to the environment)
iv) Grass serves as food for humankind.
v) Grass is used for building houses.
Any incursion into literature as one of the great art forms of mankind can be looked upon as a visit to another country. But unlike the multifarious and often frustrating preparations necessitated by a visit to another real country, all that we have need for another real country, all that we need for access to this world of the inauguration is what is already stored in our own hearts and minds. No visas are called for, no vists to the Central Bank for foreign currency, no health cards or excess baggage. We can be poor, sick, impecuous… and yet enter freely and happily into this country of great art. When we visit this country, we can also leave behind worries and strains; we can also leave behind worries and strains; we can travel with the artist into new exciting and strange modes of fueling and thought; we can be disturbed out of our petty conventions, our inadequate assumptions, we can be given visions differing in truth and authenticity of love and beauty, of ugliness and hatred, of perversion or holiness. And one important thing to remember while we are receiving all this is that literature and art generally are images of life, not life itself. They are a distancing of dynamic of life itself. They are a distancing of the dynamic of life in masks.
In other words, literature and art can help us to attain a new vision of reality, of the human condition in which we are all immersed. It provides a vicarious experience of life-gentle, harsh, tragic, satric or comic as the case may be. (Sweeney, 1973, p.3).
Definition of Literature
A scholar, Charles Nnolim sees literatures as a writing which is more emotional moving than intellectually instructive
- A writing that primarily deals with a make-believe world.
- A writing whose language is highly connotative rather than denotative, symbolic rather than literal figurative rather than plain
- A writing in which the aesthetic function is dominant – works where the ultimate aim of the author is to produce an object of beauty, a work of art.
Therefore, literature is defined as a wo rk of art that centres on the realities of life of man in the society. In otherwords, literature as a subject has its main focus on man and his experiences in the society he lives in.
Literature can also mean printed matter like pamphlets, leaflets, articles, booklets, books that deal with information about a particular subject or discipline. They are designed primarily to convey information or to move the reader to a specific action.
Functions of Literature
Literature should be regarded as a personal experience for it exists to open up for us the inner life of at least one other human being.
i) Literature educate. It is through literature we learn how to read novels, through literature we acquire more knowledge
ii) Literature informs. It enlightens us on some of the resources of the human spirit, of its ability to love, hate, scheme, of its triumphs and frustrations, complexities and perversities.
iii) Literature entertains. It enriches our leisure hours thereby enriching our lives. Through its entertainment powers, literature offers us pleasure.
Why we Study Literature
1) It broadens the intellectual capability of literature studies
2) It prepares us for the challenges of life
3) It is a source of education to us
4) It is source of entertainment to us
5) It is a means through which we acquire new words
6) It is the major means through which we improve on our efficiency in reading
7) It is also a means through which we develop our speaking ability, ie good expression in English
8) It serves as a tool for assessment of human issues.
9) It is a source of income to the people involved
10) It is now a very powerful source of employment to man,
11) It is an effective tool for socio-political reformation in the society
12) It helps to perpetuate a people’s culture
13) It is the minor through which the events of the past is seen by the people of the present
14) It helps in inculcating good morals in the people of a society
15) It is a means through which the people of a society are socialize.
16) It is a means though which we express our feelings and ideas
17) It serves as a means through which we get acquainted with the ways of lives of people of other nations and tribes.
Genre of Literature
Genre means the major branches of literature. They are:
Division and Sub-Divisions of Literature
Poetry may be defined as a work of art which basically centers on the esposition of feelings, emotions, thoughts and reflections which are recollected while at the deepest level of thought, reflections, or state of transquility and calmness. It is for this reason that poets are regarded as great thinkers. The distinguishing features of poetry from other genre of literature are economy of words, presentation in line or verse form, division into stnza, having rhythm, immense use of imagery, and freedom or liberty in the use of language.
Some Functions of Poetry
i) It develops the imagination
ii) It is the highest form of beauty
iii) It promotes the readers critical and analytical ability
iv) It provides a new and veritable experience for the reader.
v) It is the higherst form of truth. Aristotle believes that poetry is a “notation of an action” and a “truth higher than history
vi) It encourages more decent, moral and humanitarian attitudes
vii) It informs us about people, places, events and situations
viii) It broadens views, outlook and knowledge
ix) It gives enjoyment, pleasure and delight
x) It provided escape from everyday stress
Types of Petry
1) The Ode
It is a meditative or praise poem addressed to a person or thing. It was said to have originated from Greece.
The style is dignified
“Salute to womanhood” by Selina Onochie
“Fulani Cattle” by J.P. Clark
“Durujiaku” by Mamman Vatsa
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by Keats.
2) The Lyric
It is taken from the ‘lyre’ – ma musical instrument. It is uaually sung with a musical instrument. It is the most common form of English poems. It celebrates the feelings and experiences of love, tenderness, compassion, etc. it is the most common form of English poems.
It is a short or long narative poem that tells a story. It may be sung. It deals with rural or folk people, their history, their mode of living, etc.
There are two types of ballad
a) Folk ballad- They are said to be anonymous and were composed to be sung by rural folks
b) Literary ballad – they are composed by poets, that is literate people.
It is a long narrative poem with a serious purpose. It celebrates heroic exploits of noblemen, rings, princes.
a) ‘Paravise lost’ by Milton
b) “Iliad” by Homer
c) “Shaka and zulu” by mazisi kumere
Ideas like patience, truth, priority are symbolized by persons who are characters in the poem.
It teaches or instructs on morality. The poem could be satriric in nature. A satiric poem is humorous with a serious purpose. The poet sets out to ridicule people’s folly. E.g “The world is too much with us” by shaespeare.
It has fourteen lines with a definite rhyme scheme:
There are two types of sonnet
a. The Italian or petrarchan sonnet- This has eight lines (octave) and six line (sextet)
The first eight lines:
The octave lines are ABBA ABBA
The last six lines
The sestet rhymes are COE EDC; CDC, DCE, CDC, DCD, COE, CDE or any other variation
b. Shakespearen Sonnet
It develops its theme in three quatrains that is four lines and concludes with two lines (couplet). The rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG (4-4-4-2)
10. Elegy (Dirge)
it expresses grief or sorrow. It is written to mourn the passing on of a dear one. Example:
“Songs of sorrow” by Awonor
“The night after the interment” by Chibuso Asomugha
How Poetry differs from other literature
- Language of poetry is firmer and more concentrated
- Poetry must be musical in one form or the other
- The poet is more sensory, concrete, imaginative than any other writer
Some Concept in Poetry
This is the choice of words in poetry and other kinds of writing. The poet uses both denotation and connotation to convey his meanings. For example: the word red denotes a particular colour. Red can also connote “blood” “revolution”, “danger”, “anger”, etc.
A writer uses both denotation and connotation to evoke the imagination of the reader.
Some scholars affirm that the language of poetry is concise and what is suggests appeals to our senses. This appeal to the sense is alled imagery that is a picture is created in our minds.
This is used in comparing one thing with another. Examples oof words that show simile include ‘as”, ‘like’
Eg (1) He plays like Okocha
(2) She is as strong as a lion.
4) Metaphor (transfer)
This is where a direct comparison is made. It is a description used to show that two things have the same quality.
Eg (1) He is a lion
(2) “He drowned his fears in alcohol
Metaphor suggests association which will not be present in a plain description
This is a statement which refers to inaminate object as if it is a living being. Examples:
1) “Time waits for no one”
2) “Sleep, nature’s sweet nurse”
3) The sun continues to smile on the earth surface
Saying two words that are directly opposite to one another. Example:
1) “Speech is silver, Silence is golden”
2) “It was a happy moment, it was a sad moment
This is a statement in which someone or something that is absent is addressed as if it is present. Example
1) Oh death! How painful are you.
2) “Rain, rain, go away
This os a phrase (not a sentence) that combines two words that seem to be opposite of each other. Examples:
1) “It is now an open secret.
2) “The birth of the baby was both wonderful and terrible
These involve the use of exaggeration for clearer understanding. Examples:
1) I will beat a hell out of you
2) I’d never leave my wife in a million years
A way of saying unpleasant statement in a pleasant way. Example:
1) The man kicked the bucket (died)
2) She went out to pass water (urinate)
One thing is substituted for another something is not called its true name but by something assoiciated with it. Example:
1) “Education without the hoe and the matchet is incomplete
2) “The pen is mightier than the swaord
3) ‘Aso rock has to address the matter quickly.
4) Please bring me the Achebe, Soyinka and Umeasiegbu on my table.
M.H. Abrams described drama as literary form designed for the theatre where actors take the roles of the characters, perform the indicated action and utter the written dialogue. In poetic drama the dialogue is written in verse which in English is usually ‘blank’ verse. A closet drama is written the form of a drama, but it is intended to be read rather than to be performed in the theatre.
Drama is a Greek word which means doing, performing. It involves action and it is something you can see and watch. Therefore, drama centres on the presentation ot imitation of life on stage through the help of language. The most important element or feature o drama is action or performance. The writer of a drama is called a playwright or a dramatist.
Types of Drama
It is a literary term used in drama which represents an action that is serious and disastrous to the performist, not necessarily death for the protangonist. Put simply, a tragedy is a drama which involves sad events and in which the main character suffers and dies. It is a drama that arouses or evokes fear and pity in the audience.
It induces in us feelings of mirth, gladness, laughter, happiness. It makes us feel good. It portrays the picture of bright and humorous side of life. In otherwords, it is a type of drama that involves happy events, and which ends happily. It is usually meant to entertain and at the same time to educate the audience. It appeals to the intellect as it entertains.
A serious situation initially but ends happily. It has some elements of tragedy and elements of comedy. Eg. Merchant of Vernice by Shakespeare.
Tragedy and comedy compared
i.Pressents men as better or greater than anyone
Presents men as worse or more pitty than they are
ii.Highlights man’s responsibilities and suffering thereby illustrating his greatness or weakness
Shows manin his meaness, man as a petty caricature
iii.Brings man high
Brings man low
iv.You empathize with the characters
Causes merriment, excites laughter
iv. Tone is serious
Tone is light, witty, gay, humorous
Prose in its ordinary and most useful sense, is the sustained use of language as we ordinarily speak it, as distinguished from language patterned into recurrent units of meter, whicih we call verse. Infact, in all literatures, written prose seems to have developed later than written verse, according to some authoritative.
The prose has
- Linear plot (sample)
- Complicated plot: Uses flash backs, stream of consciousness, soliloquay, etc.
- Apparent,y plotless
- Plausible setting
- Beginning, middle,, end.
Characteristics of the Novel
i) It is written in prose
ii) It is fiction (imaginative)
iii) It has to be of a certain length (at least 150 pages)
iv) It presents a variety of characters that interact with each other,
v) It presents incidents that relate with these characters
1. Define the following
2. Literature is life. Discuss
3. Distinguish between good literature and bad literature and give examples
4. Compare and contrast poetry and drama
Abrams, M.H. (1971). A glossary of literary terms. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
Anthony, William A. Jr. (1997). Formats for letters on memos, in Kitty O. Lecker, Business and Administration communication. Boston: Irwiin McGraw Hill.
Bel-Molokwu, Joseph (1997). Business communication theory and practice. Lagos: Sef pacific service.
Brooks, Cleanth; Purse, John Thibant; Warren, Robbert Penn (1964). An approach to literature. New York: Publishing Company.
Casterner, Dee (1`997). Making your writing easy to read; in Kitty, O. Hocker, Business and Administrative Communication. Bostoon: Irwin/McGraw Hill.
Eko, Ebele (2004). Effective writing. Ibadan: Heinemann educational books (Nigeria) Plc.
Ezugu, Amadiche, M. (1999). Principles and practice of communication in administration and business. Enugu: SGS, IMT.
Grieve, D.W., Pratt, K. (1978). Certificate English Language. Lagos: Thomas Nelson (Nigeria) Ltd.
Hatcher, Kendra (1997). ‘Planning, processing and researching reports in Ketty O. Locker, business and administrative communication. Boston: Irwin/McGraw Hill.
Hybels, Sandra, Weaver II, Richard L. (2001). Communication effectively, sixth edition. Boston: McGraw Companies.
James, Sybil Ode, Isaac, Soola, Oludayo (2006). Introduction to communication. Ibadan: Spectrum Book Limited.
Little, Peter (1980). Communication in business. London: Longman Group Limited.
Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2007). Oxford: Macmillan Education.
Nduka, D.M. (1997). ‘Reading comprehension in Osakwe, nneka; Okoye, Ifeoma; Umeasiegbu, Rems (ed), communication skills in English. Enugu: John Jacob’s classic publishers Ltd.
Ngwu, Chris C. Ugwu Chidi (2006). Feature writing. Enugu: Rhyce Kerex Publishers.
Nnolim, Charles E., (1981). “Literature and the individual weffere; The Educator, June.
Nwala, M.A. and Chima, S.N. public speech. In Ogayi Martin C, and Stephen, n. Chima. Eds. English Language in Use: General Study Series. Vol. 2. Abakaliki: Wisdom publishers 2005.
Nwali, L.o. use of library. In Ogayi, Mrtin and Stephen Chima. Ed. English Language in Use: General Study Series. Vol. 2. Abakaliki: Wisdom Publishers 2005.
Nwankwegu, J. and Goodluck Nwode, C. (2012). Effective use of English. Enugu: De Envoy.
Nwoga, D.I. (1978). ‘African traditional literature’ in Ogbu U. Kalu (ed), Reading in African Humanities African Cultural Development. Enugu: First Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd.
Ogayi, M. Ogayi (1999). Communication in English. Enugu: Sowreap Eradite Publishers.
Okenwa, Nnamdi S., (1998). Specialized writing techniques. Enugu: Zik-Chuks communications.
Omachomi, G.S. (2003). Effective writing skills. Nsukka: Great AP Express Publishers Limited.
Onochie, Selina, N., Okoye, Christiana, O. (2002). Comprehensive English Grammar. Enugu: SStrong Tower Publishers.
Onochie, Selina n. (2009). Writing techniques. Enugu: Jamoe Publishers.
Osakwe, Nneka (1997). ‘Business correspondence in Nneka, Osakwe, Ifeoma Okoye, Runs Umesasiegbu (ed), communication skills in English. Enugu: John jacob’s Classic Publishers Ltd.
Pink, M.A.; Thomas, S.E. (1981). English grammar, composition and correspondence, 12th edition. London: Casewell Ltd.
Semerjian, Dyton, J.O. (1997). “Analysing data and writing reports’ in kitty O. Locker, Business and Administrative communication. Boston: Irwin/McGraw-Hill.
Suffon, Hartley (1981). Candid composition and Letter-writing. Ibadan: African Universities Press.
Sweeney, Eileen Sister (1979). Another country, the land of lecture. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd.
Welsh, Spna K. (1997). “An inside perspective: Job application letters; in Katty O. Locker, Administrative Communication. Boston: Irwin/McGraw Hill.
Wolfit, Donald (1978). The complete works of William Shakespeare. London: Spring Books.