Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

Writing in the Works, 4th Edition

  • includes 2016 MLA Update Card
  • Susan Blau
  • Kathryn Burak
  • ISBN-10: 1337287032
  • ISBN-13: 9781337287036
  • 688 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2017, 2013, 2010
  • COPYRIGHT: 2017 Published
Request a Copy for Review


About the Product

In this fourth edition of WRITING IN THE WORKS, the authors have maintained their dual focus on writing as both an academic and practical tool. At the same time, they have updated the content and the spirit of the book for the contemporary writing environment. Students learn to write for the digital world--where visual and verbal messages are inseparable--and do so by exploring serious ideas that will engage a real-world audience. Throughout the book, and in three new chapters, the authors emphasize the skills of synthesizing, defining, and evaluating--skills central to the development of good academic writing and good real-world writing. Students are encouraged to take chances, think big thoughts, and practice skills which will prepare them to ride the global communications wave as more confident, capable writers. Each student text is packaged with a free Cengage Essential Reference Card to the MLA HANDBOOK, Eighth Edition.


  • The book helps improve student motivation and student writing with assignments on writing to explore, inform, analyze, and argue that have a clear application to communication in the world outside college. These assignments include a variety of genres, such as essays of ideas, memoirs, profiles, short articles, news stories, research articles, reviews, editorials, public service messages, and proposals.

  • Assignments intended for the real world and potential publication help students understand the importance of audience. Meaningful contextualized writing assignments help students see themselves as writers in communication with a real audience.

  • The book helps students connect the writing skills they learn in college to the writing they will do for their careers and community.

  • The book’s extensive art program illustrates the importance of visual literacy and pays special attention to the role of the image--how to analyze, use, design, and incorporate the image into the written text. The “Visual Literacy” feature in each chapter encourages students to look at and analyze a variety of visual images: photographs, drawings, paintings, posters, websites, and cartoons.

  • Enhanced emphasis on technology and media includes coverage of social media (Chapter 9), blogs (Chapter 12), and visual arguments (Chapter 13).

About the Author

Susan Blau

Susan Blau was a professor and director of the Undergraduate Writing program and the Writing Center at Boston University's College of Communication. She received her BS in Education from the University of Vermont and her MA in English from the University of Connecticut, and was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. Her background is in linguistics, composition and rhetoric, and American Literature. She has taught writing in both English and Communication Departments and has published articles, conducted workshops, and presented papers at national conferences on the topics of teaching writing, writing across the curriculum, and writing center research and practice.

Kathryn Burak

Kathryn Burak has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a BA in English from Kutztown University. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Boston University. She is the author of a novel, EMILY'S DRESS AND OTHER MISSING THINGS, and her poetry, fiction, and essays have been published in such journals and magazines as Fiction, Missouri Review, Western Humanities Review, Gettysburg Review, Belt, and Seventeen. Her interests include teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Table of Contents

PART I: The Writer''s Craft.
1. The Rhetorical Situation: Writers'' Choices.
Choosing the Right Genre. Identifying Your Purpose. The General Purpose. The Specific Purpose: The Big Idea. Tips about the Big Idea. FAQS about the Big Idea. Engaging Your Audience. Creating Your Voice. Tone: Formal, Personal, Lyrical, or Plainspoken. Stylistic Choices and the Writer''s Voice. Deciding on Media and Design: Packaging Your Message. Considering Your Media. FAQS about Packages for Messages. Ten Tips for a Clear Writing Style. Designing Your Message. Layout. Color. Design Checklist. Writing about the Rhetorical Situation. No More Mr. Nice Guys. "Difficult Men" by Brett Martin*.
2. The Writer''s Process.
The Writing Process. Getting Started. Finding Your Own Writing Process. Keeping a Writer''s Notebook. Techniques for Getting Unstuck, Getting Started, and Getting Refreshed. Brainstorming. Planning and Shaping. Creating a Research Path. Developing a Working Thesis. The Specific Focus of Your Big Idea. Persuade the Administration to Use Green Technology in New Buildings Big Idea. Organizing Your Material. Sample Student Outline. Writing the First Draft. Developing Paragraphs. Using Rhetorical Strategies to Develop Your Writing. Narration. Description. Examples. Process Analysis. Comparison and/or Contrast. Classification. Causes and/or Effects. Definition. Linking Ideas Clearly with Effective Transitions. Asking Questions about the Rhetorical Situation
Revising. Five Steps of Revision. Revising for Style. The Rhythm of Sentences. The Sound of Words. Figures of Speech. Writing the Literacy Narrative. Stephen King. On Writing.
3. Collaboration, Peer Review, and Writing as a Public Act.
Peer Review. The Process. The Writer. The Peer Reviewer. Ten Questions for Peer Review. One Student''s Writing Process.
Sample Freewrite. Annotated First Draft. I Was Just a Little Kid. Justin Lin. Peer Review Log. Final Draft. Reading. When I Was Just a Little Kid. Justin Lin. Writing Portfolios. Tips for Building a Writing Portfolio. Publishing.
4. Reading, Thinking, and Writing Critically.
Ten Questions for Critical Thinking and Reading. Developing a Healthy Skepticism: Believing and Doubting. Ask Questions about the Text. Determine the Bias of Sources. Ask Questions about the Writer''s Background and Publication Type. Ask Questions about the Way the Material Is Written. Distinguish Fact from Opinion. Reading Actively. Underlining Key Points. Annotating and Making Marginal Notes. Outlining or Clustering. ANATOMY OF A READING. Hardscrabble Salvation. Joel Preston Smith. Paraphrasing. Summarizing. Analyzing and Synthesizing. Analysis. INTERPRETING FIGURES OF SPEECH. IRONY. Synthesis. Visual Literacy: Analyzing Images that Come with Text. Understanding Logical Appeals. Writing a Rhetorical Analysis. STEPS IN WRITING A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS. STUDENT RHETORICAL ANALYSIS. A Rhetorical Analysis of "Hardscrabble Salvation". Elizabeth Ramsey-Vidales.
PART II: Writing to Explore.
5. Writing a Narrative: Memories.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Memoir. David Goldenberg. Hunting a Chimp on a Killing Spree. The Rhetorical Situation. The Big Idea Theme. Research Paths: Finding Details That Bring Your Story to Life. Visual Literacy: Snapshots. Creating Narrative Scenes. Showing and telling: Creating a Vivid Picture. Summary: Tells. Narrative Description: Shows. Internal Monologue: Tells. Dialogue: Shows. Narrative Elements: Setting, Character, Conflict, Point of View. Setting. Character: Creating character through dialogue. Punctuating Dialogue. Conflict. Point of View. The Narrative Arc (Plot): Set-Up, Rising Action, Climax, Resolution. Tips for Building a Narrative Arc in Your Story. DIY MEDIA AND DESIGN. The Graphic Memoir. READING. Fainting. Hailey Markman. All Washed Up. Antonya Nelson. Impression. Melissa Hochman. WRITING & REVISION STRATEGIES. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
6. Writing About Others Profiles.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Profile. The Top Drill Instructor in Boot Camp 101. Jack Falla. The Rhetorical Situation. Choosing a Good Profile Subject. Finding Your Topic. Finding Your Focus. Five Questions to Help Focus Your Profile. Big Idea: The Nut Graf or Interpretive Thesis. Key Elements in Effective Profiles. Visual Literacy: Analyzing Portraits. Examine the Two Portraits of Andy Warhol. Research Paths. Social Media. Online Searches and Databases. Direct Observation. Interviews. Tips for Good Interviews. Multiple Points of View. Beginnings and Endings. Beginnings. Setting Lead. Anecdotal Lead. Generalization Lead. Endings. DIY Media and Design. Oral History: A Spoken Word Project. Readings. A Fine Balance: The Life of a Muslim Teenager. Thanos Matthai. A Hidden and Solitary Soldier. J. R. Moehringer. What Makes Cauliflower Ear So Enticing. Alyssa Parisi. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
7. Synthesizing Information: The Essay of Ideas.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Essay of Ideas. #First-World-Problems. Jolaina Jessler. The Rhetorical Situation. Big Idea: In Essay of Ideas: The Synthesis Thesis. Visual Literacy. Research Paths. Steps in Writing Your Essay. Find a Topic. Brainstorm Ideas. The Aristotelian Method. The Measurement Method. The Analogy Method. The Importance of SHOWING. Organize Your Ideas. Induction or Deduction? DIY Media and Design. Speech and Podcast. Reinventing Your Essay of Ideas as a Special Occasion Speech. Readings. Pinball and Happiness. Jake Shauli. Pain Won''t Kill You. Jonathan Franzen. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Editing Log. Revision Checklist.
Part III: Writing to Inform.
8. Writing Short Articles: The Explainer.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Short Article. Brian Palmer. Why Is There So Much Salt in Processed Foods? Because Salt is Delicious. The Rhetorical Situation. The Big Idea In Short Articles: Writing A Thesis. What Should I Write About? Ways of Looking at a Subject. Method of Inquiry: Questions To Ask About Your Subject. Research Paths: Use Primary and Secondary Sources. Sticky Stuff and Your Obligation To Your Reader. Visual Literacy: Finding a Thesis in a Photo Essay. Organize Your Thinking: Structure Your Writing. Deduction or Induction? The Introduction. The Body. The Conclusion. DIY MEDIA AND DESIGN. PechaKucha (20 × 20). READINGS. The Scoop on Disney''s Dirty Laundry. Charles Fishman. Do Dolphins Commit Suicide? Matthew Hardcastle. Dracula Was the Original Thug. Douglas Starr. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
9. Writing a Report: News for Print, Web, and Social Media.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Report. Katherine Donnelly. Concussions: A Hidden, but Potentially Deadly Sports Injury Gets a Closer Look. The Rhetorical Situation. The Big Idea Developing the Big Idea: Thesis or Angle in a News Story. Research Paths: Current, Accurate, and Reliable. Newsworthiness. Objectivity and Balance: Giving Readers an Unbiased Story. Tips on Sources for News. Visual Literacy: Eyewitness Accounts. Bringing Your Reader Into The Moment with Photographs That Tell Stories. Using Any Kind of Camera, Go Out and Take Photos That Reveal Stories. Clear and Concise: Two Types of Summaries. The News Lead. Write a Summary: The News Lead. Toland Foods Announce Rebate on Earth''s Own Organic Broccoli. The Abstract. Write a Summary: The Abstract. Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity. The Body of the News Story: The Devil in the Details. Using Paraphrase and Quotation. Full Quotations. Partial Quotations. Attribution for Quotations. Paraphrases. Ending the News Story. Tips for Headline and Social Media Writing. DIY MEDIA AND DESIGN. Readings. Fantasy Football, Real Sanctions. Jake New. Transcript-Free Admissions. Scott Jaschik. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
Part IV: Writing to Analyze.
10. Writing an Evaluation: Reviews.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Review of a Film. Yoshi Makishima. Divergent Is Just Another Teen Movie. The Rhetorical Situation: The Review. Research Paths: Find Out about the Origins of Your Topic. The Big Idea Writing the Evaluative Thesis. Visual Literacy: Review a Cover. Identifying Genre or Class. Choosing Criteria. Examples of Criteria. Stating Your Opinion. Describing the Subject: The "Highlight Reel". Backing Up Your Opinion with Evidence. Opinion–Claim–Illustration. DIY Media and Design. Create a Video Product Review for Posting on YouTube. Readings. Warp Drivel. Samantha Nelson. Album Review: Mumford & Sons, "Babel". Greg Kot. Review: Chipotle''s New Vegan Tofu Sofritas. Dana Rewngel. Writing & Revising Strategies. Writer''s Notebook. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
11. Writing a Causal Analysis: Long Researched Articles.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Researched Articles. Claire Cain Miller. Is Owning Overrated? The Rental Economy Rises. The Rhetorical Situation. The Big Idea: The Analytical Thesis. Research Paths: Organizing Your Investigation of Causes and Effects. Keeping Track of Your Research. Books. Social Media. Internet Search Engines and Directories. Internet Database. Interviews. Checklist for Authority, Currency, Bias. Tips for Establishing Your Ethos. Visual Literacy: Visualizing Information. Choosing a Good Topic. Questions for Testing Your Topic. A Journalist''s Tips for Showing the Human Side of Data. Using Logic to Analyze Cause and Effect: Avoid Jumping to Conclusions. The Post Hoc Fallacy. Assigning Singular Cause. Reading Statistics with a Critical Eye. Revision: Making Your Logic Airtight. Big Idea Reminders. Restatements of Previous Topics. Single Word Transitions. DIY Media and Design. Data Storytelling through Infographics. Readings. College Class Tries to Revive the Lost Art of Dating. Heather Cicchese. Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction. Matt Richtel. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. REVISION CHECKLIST.
PART V: Writing to Argue.
12. Writing an Argument: Editorials, Commentaries, and Blogs.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Argument. Louise Aronson. The Future of Robot Caregivers. The Rhetorical Situation. Big Idea: Claim and Argumentative Thesis. Taking an Arguable Position. Appealing to Your Audience. Use Logical Appeals to Make a Reasonable Case. Use Emotional Appeals to Create Empathy. Use Ethical Appeals to Create a Trustworthy Tone. Ten Pitfalls in Logic: Fallacies. Visual Literacy: Seeing Arguments. Research Paths: Supporting Arguments with Evidence. How Much Background Information Should You Include? Types of Evidence. Evaluating Evidence. Acknowledging Opposing Views and Refuting Them. Seven Habits of Highly Effective Arguments. DIY Media and Design. Create a Facebook Page to Bring Attention to an Issue. Readings. Don''t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers. Bren Smith. Room for Debate: The War Against Online Trolls. Free Speech Does Not Protect Cyberharassment. Danielle Keats Citron. Dialogue Is Important, Even When It''s Impolite. Ryan M. Milner. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
13. Creating a Visual Argument: Public Service Messages.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Public Service Message: You Don''t Have to Be Perfect. . . . Questions for Critical Thinking. The Rhetorical Situation. Tips for Choosing the Best Medium for Your Message. Words + Images in Visual Arguments. Big Idea: The Concept Behind the Message. Visual Literacy: Text as Image. Research Paths: Finding Your Argument Strategy through the Mission Statement. Your "Client" or Advocacy Group. Searches and Sources. The Persuasion Path. Attract Attention and Generate Interest: Headlines and Visuals. Poetry and Advertising Copy. Appeal to Hearts and Minds (Pathos, Logos, Ethos). Using Pathos. Using Logos. Using Ethos. Provide Reasons in Your Argument. Call Your Reader to Action. Presenting Your Work: The Pitch Letter. Tips for Writing Pitch Letters. DIY Media and Design. YouTube Advocacy Video. Readings. MADD High School Posters. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Girl Empowerment. NCH. Talk about Your Boyfriend Trouble PSM. Seth Nichols, Emily Chang, and James O''Neill. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions. Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
14. Writing for Your Community: Proposals.
Process Plan. Understanding the Writing Project. Proposal. Jessica Hollander. Stopping Teen Dating Violence. The Rhetorical Situation. Big Idea: From Concept to Plan. Research Paths. Avoiding Pitfalls of Past Proposals. Visual Literacy: Using Images in Proposals. Using Evidence to Appeal to Your Audience. Logos. Pathos. Ethos. The Proposal Process. Identify the Problem. Identify Your Audience. Formulate a Clear and Feasible Solution. Provide Reasons. Tips for Selling Your Solution. Explain the Benefits. Go Public with Your Proposal. Tips for Using Multimedia in Your Proposal. DIY Media and Design. PowerPoint Proposal. PowerPoint Dos and Don''ts. Readings. Pay It Forward: A Proposal to Make College Affordable for Oregon Students. Waterfront Skatepark Proposal. Superior Skatepark Coalition. Writing & Revision Strategies. Writer''s Notebook Suggestions.
Peer Review Log. Revision Checklist.
Part VI: Research and Documentation.
15. Research.
Understanding Research. Brainstorming: Researching to Discover Topics. Wikipedia. Virtual Library: The Online Subject Catalog. Primary Sources. Secondary Sources. Narrowing Your Topic and Formulating a Specific Research Question. Creating a Working Bibliography. Reading with Focus: Taking Useful Notes and Avoiding Plagiarism. Sample Notecard. The Rhetorical Situation: Evaluating Your Sources. A Note About Wikis, Blogs, and Message Boards. Authority. Scholarship. Bias. Currency. Quick Evaluation for Websites. The Search: Secondary Sources. Using Books. How to Find Books on Your Subject. What a Catalog Tells You. Evaluating Books. Using Periodicals: Academic Journals, Trade Journals, and Popular Magazines. Using Surveys and Polls. Using Newspapers. The Search: Primary Sources. Using Interviews. Tips for Conducting Interviews. Creating an Annotated Bibliography. Kinds of Annotations. Organizing Your Annotated Bibliography. Tips for Reading Sources and Writing Annotated Bibliographies. Anatomy of an Annotated Bibliographic Entry.
16. Documentation. (MLA and APA Guidelines).
Part VII: Grammar Handbook. Why Study Grammar?
17. Grammar Refresher.
18. Punctuation.
19. Common Errors.

New to this edition

  • To provide students with quick and easy access to the latest changes in MLA style, The Cengage Essential Reference Card to the MLA HANDBOOK, Eighth Edition, is packaged free with each student text.
  • ENHANCED Emphasis on critical thinking: Critical thinking and critical reading are introduced in a stand-alone chapter (4). Each assignment chapter that follows includes critical thinking questions based on the readings as well as a prompt for students to “imitate” some aspect of the style or technique used in the reading.
  • NEW Chapter on the Explainer (8): Students learn how to write short articles (popularized by Slate Magazine) that provide answers to questions such as: Why were animals so big in the past? How do you fake your own death? They also learn to incorporate into their answers the larger implications that reveal patterns in behavior, historical context, or scientific phenomenon.
  • NEW Focus on the spoken word and social media: In each assignment chapter, an updated “DIY (Do It Yourself) Media and Design” feature--which highlights the application of each writing genre in an alternate media--now includes such micro genres as the graphic memoir, a spoken word project, the speech and the podcast, and PechaKucha, the art of concise presentations.
  • EXPANDED Chapter on Reviews: Chapter 10, “Writing an Evaluation: Reviews,” now includes guidance on writing film reviews as well as restaurant, music album, and video game reviews.
  • EXPANDED Coverage of visual literacy: Many of the practice exercises focus on deconstructing and analyzing the bold images that are featured in each chapter. Each assignment chapter features a visual literacy exercise, honing students’ ability to create as well as analyze images. The causal analysis chapter (11) introduces data storytelling through infographics.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the Main title.
Please see Main title page for new to this edition information.

Instructor Supplements

Instructor's Companion Website  (ISBN-10: 1305092112 | ISBN-13: 9781305092112)

For additional instructor support materials, including PowerPoint slides and the instructor’s manual, go to The instructor’s manual provides teaching suggestions, suggested answers to exercises, and a sample course syllabus to assist instructors in teaching the course.

MindTap English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Blau/Burak's Writing in the Works  (ISBN-10: 1305674693 | ISBN-13: 9781305674691)

MindTap English for Writing in the Works, 4th Edition is the digital learning solution that powers students from memorization to mastery. It gives you complete control of your course—to provide engaging content, to challenge every individual, and to build their confidence. Empower students to accelerate their progress with MindTap. MindTap: Powered by You. MindTap engages students to become better thinkers, communicators, and writers as they review every aspect of the writing process. Interactive activities emphasize grammar and mechanics. A paper management system allows electronic submission, grading, and peer review while tracking potential plagiarism. Video tutorials and examples support research and professional tutoring guides students from rough drafts to polished writing. Analytics track student progress as MindTap works with existing learning management systems.

Student Supplements

MindTap English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Blau/Burak's Writing in the Works  (ISBN-10: 1305674693 | ISBN-13: 9781305674691)

MindTap English for Blau/Burak’s Writing in the Works, 4th Edition helps you learn on your terms. INSTANT ACCESS IN YOUR POCKET. Take advantage of the MindTap Mobile App. Read or listen to the book and study with flashcards and practice quizzes. MINDTAP HELPS YOU GEAR UP FOR ULTIMATE SUCCESS. Track your scores and stay motivated. Improve college writing and research skills with built-in tools, such as professional tutoring, a database of scholarly sources and interactive videos to support research papers. A dictionary and other tools keep you organized and on track. You’ll know where to focus your efforts. And the MindTap Green Dot will charge your confidence along the way. MINDTAP HELPS YOU MAKE THE TEXT YOURS. No one knows what works for you better than you. Highlight key text, add notes, and create custom flashcards. When it’s time to study, gather everything you’ve flagged into a guide organize.