Vol. 3. No. 2 M-2 March 1998
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WriteExpress Interactive Business Letters

 Windows 3.1/Windows 95
Price: $49.95; Free demo available
WriteExpress Corporation
<http://www.WriteExpress.com >


The program promises to supply the users with prompts helping to get the wanted results when writing impressive, professional English business letters. This is achieved by providing over 1,650 business and personal letters aimed at overcoming writer's block with step- by-step instructions for 500 writing topics.

1. Brief Description

In 1996 Utah-based WriteExpress Corporation broke new ground in software development producing an extremely user-friendly software package. The program supports each writing step with numerous sample sentences and key phrases. In addition, the data-rich program offers over 1,650 example letters. It goes without saying that each of the sentences, phrases, and letters can be inserted directly into a working document for further editing.

Under the direction of Robert Stevens, the President of WriteExpress Corporation, formerly a senior programmer for WordPerfect Corporation, dozens of experienced writers, editors, and computer specialists gathered to create a product which simulates a professional writing coach. Furthermore, it is a remarkable, and even indispensable, aid for persons whose native language is not English because it teaches American English usage with professional examples covering almost every business writing topic. Reliable and persuasive advice is offered ranging from the tone that collectors should use in increasingly stronger collection letters, to the correct format for a press release, to how to complain about a billing error, and so forth.

2. Walk-Through

The installation of the program is extremely simple and quick. A Setup Program and Wizard guide the user through the installation process and gives necessary hints and suggestions of which components to choose. The components (Stand-Alone Business Letters Program [153K], Program for Microsoft Word 7.0 [161K], Program for Microsoft Word 97 [161K], and Program for Corel WordPerfect 7 [161K] integrate WriteExpress Interactive Business Letters directly into the word processors you specify. They allow running the program from the Tools menus of the word processors mentioned above. The program also works with Novell GroupWise 5.x (currently only if you have [-1-] WordPerfect 7 installed). Or, you can run the stand-alone version by clicking START, WriteExpress, WriteExpress Interactive Business Letters.

In order to get the most out of this easy-to-use writing program and to get what you need to write quality correspondence, you should use the program mainly as a three-step process:

(1) Find your writing topic

The program shows a list of 56 writing categories ranging from "Acceptances" to "Welcome." Double clicking a category selects sub- categories, i.e., one of the 500 writing topics as is shown by the following screenshot. [Screen shot here (59K)]

Topics   Phrase a Thought    ['Topics' is selected]

_X_ Show categories and topics   ___ Search for a topic
Double click on a writing category, select a topic, then click New

+ Apologies
+ Applictions
+ A¤ppointments
+ Appreciation
- Approvals   [hi-lited]
    Approve a loan
    Approve a proposal
    Approve a request
    Approve a vacation or leave of absence
    Approve attendnce at a conference or seminar
    Approve payment or funding for expenses incurred
    Endorse a proposal or report
    Grant a promotion or raise
    Grant approval for credit
+ Authorizations
+ Cancellations
- Claims
    Approve payment or funding for expenses incurred
    Complain about a faulty delivery or a shipping error
    Complain about an unfair insurance payment or settlement
    File a warrantly claim
    Make an insurance claim
+ Collections
- Complaints
    Appeal to higher authorities when complain letters don't work
    Complain about a billing error
Screen 1


(2) Learn how to write the letter

When the NEXT button is clicked to continue, the second screen displays helpful tips and step-by-step instructions explaining how to write the letter. Tips contain labor-saving information, do's and don'ts, tone of the letter, etc., as the next example taken from WriteExpress shows:

Topic: Congratulate someone on a religious occasion

These rites are important events in the lives of participants and their
friends and family, since the ceremonies usually denote a person's
acceptance of the faith's tenets. Congratulatory letters are typically sent
by family members and by friends who understand the significance of the

1. Start with a direct statement of congratulations that identifies the
celebrated event.

2. Briefly discuss the importance of the event.

3. Acknowledge such things as the effort, dedication, energy, and sacrifice
necessary for the achievement.

4. Mention the gift, if you are giving one.

5. Express good wishes for future success.
Screen 2

(3) Select sample text

Clicking the NEXT button leads to the final screen containing sample sentences and phrases to help you word each of the writing steps. For example, step one might contain seven sentences. View each of the sample sentences and insert the sentences you like best directly into your document by clicking the INSERT button, if you are running the program from inside your word processor. Step two contains sample sentences and phrases helping jog your memory or construct a sentence. Click on the LETTERS button will show several sample letters that follow the steps:

Topic: Congratulate someone on a religious occasion

Step 1 of 5: Start with a direct statement of congratulations that identifies the celebrated event. [-3-]

Congratulations on your ordination to the priesthood.

Your decision to live a life of service to others is one that your grandfather would be very proud of. You have worked hard to finish your seminary training and have been a great example to all of us.

May you find joy and satisfaction in your ministry.

==================================================================== Screen 3

Clicking on the BACK button twice gets you to the first screen. Clicking on "Search for a Topic" allows you to find a topic by typing a word such as 'job'. Clicking the FIND button will display all the topics containing the word 'job'. Clicking the NEXT button will get you to the Overview screen.

Clicking on the "Phrase a Thought" tab gives information on alternative ways of how to express an idea and how words are used in a defined context. This function is particularly valuable for non-native speakers of English and has been greatly acclaimed by learners of ESP at an intermediate and advanced level. Although the displayed sentences are unrelated, it does not take a long time to find an appropriate sentence or phrase to use for your purposes:

1. Type one or more words, then click Find.


2. View words in: ___Sentences  _X_ Phrases  ___ Letters 

3. Select a phrase. Then click Insert.

     after looking more closely
     already looking forward to
     always looking for editors with potential
     always looking for reliable new suppliers
     am currently looking for a new job
     am looking for
     am looking for a position in
     am looking for new challenges
     am looking forward to
     am looking into
     am still looking for
     appreciate your looking into this matter
     are always looking for ways to
     are looking for
     are looking for a person who
     are looking for a silent partner to finance our expansion
     are looking for someone who                               [-4-]
     are looking for someone who can
     are looking for someone who is honest and organized
     are looking forward to
     are looking forward to another
     are looking forward to enjoying our new home  [line hi-lited]
     are looking forward to your call at
     are similar to those we are looking for
     as much as I am looking forward to
     everyone is looking forward to
     forecasts are looking positive
     have been looking for
     have been looking forward to
     have been so looking forward to
Screen 4

The brief description and the walk-through can only point at the main functions of this writing tool and does not aim at describing or commenting on all its possibilities in an exhaustive manner.

3. Conclusion

There are many programs devoted to increasing the learners' skills in writing a foreign language with confidence. However, few of them really succeed in what they are promising to do. WriteExpress Interactive Business Letters does keep all its promises by an easy point and click interface. It is without any doubt a content-based application that has not only been highly esteemed by evaluators for content and form, but also for its attractive retail price ($ 49.95 + shipping and handling).

Students and professional writers find their writing topics, understand how letters should be written, and draft and personalize their letters with the help of this vast resource. WriteExpress Interactive Business Letters is a must-have for anyone involved in writing business and personal letters. It is invaluable for its listings as well as for detailed information on the process of writing. It provides thoughtful, interesting, and persuasive material for writers who will want to add this tool to their reference bookshelf, as the easy-to- use writing program does not only present the facts and information but also the whys and hows that get you inside the writing process.

WriteExpress Interactive Business Letters will especially benefit the intermediate and advanced ESP learners. It is the perfect and unique tool for quickly looking up explanations and hints necessary for efficient and persuasive business correspondence.

In order to get more precise and informative ideas of this treasure chest, I strongly suggest checking the developer's homepage: [-5-] http://www.WriteExpress.com. Take your time to browse and enjoy the demonstrations, technical details, and screenshots of this successful writing aid, which is recommended for those who do not have much knowledge and information about letter writing. But it also offers sensible and reliable resources which are useful even for specialists in this field. You can order online and/or download the evaluation version and get part of the database free.

In summary, I found this to be an excellent program, and possibly the best of its genre. It is software capable of serving the most demanding of enthusiasts as well as acting as a basic practical tool for any language learner or teacher. User comments and rave reviews back and support my evaluation: "This product is a real productivity enhancement tool.Write Interactive Business Letters makes my professional life a lot easier. Great tool for the word processor."

The program is one of my favorites. Do try it out and it will show you why.

Dr Dieter Kranz, MA
Academic Director
Department of English
Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet Muenster (Germany)

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Editor's Note: Dashed numbers in square brackets indicate the end of each page in the paginated ASCII version of this article, which is the definitive edition. Please use these page numbers when citing this work. [-6-]

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