Philip Vassallo, Ed.D.

Writing Management, Design, Instruction, and Assessment


Friday, May 10, 2013

Going to Class

Teachers need to learn. Without taking formal training or education classes at least once a year, I think I would feel as if I'm losing touch with my profession. Of course, I can't know that for sure, because I have never let that much time pass without learning in a structured context, either through courses at the American Management Association, where I am a resident course developer, through local universities or training institutes, or through online educational services that I mentioned in a previous post. So I take these courses to keep fresh in my mind what it feels like to be in the learner's seat and to be evaluated.

The course I just signed up for is Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade, given by Coursera. It focuses on the parts of speech and requires writing assignments, peer participation in a bulletin board-type portal, and peer review of writing assignments.

Is it a waste of time to take a course whose content I already know? Absolutely not. I'll be looking for new viewpoints and approaches to the content. Be on the lookout for free educational opportunities, which abound on the internet. Here's to your learning.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Fun Times with the FBLA and NAF


Standing before an intelligent, focused, and enthusiastic audience to talk about what you know is enough of a reward. But speaking to four consecutive sessions, each with 75 teenagers who are eager to learn and appreciate of the speaker's presence, is a privilege.


I was fortunate to experience that feeling as a contributing presenter at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on April 15, when 4,000 high school students convened as members of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America for their State Leadership Conference. I presented two workshops, each on Time Management Mastery and Writing with Respect on behalf of Operation Enterprise, the youth outreach division of the American Management Association.


The week before, on April 8, I had an equally fortuitous speaking engagement at the Operation Enterprise New York City headquarters, where I presented six sessions of Interviewing Skills to rooks of 40 high school students who are members of the New York City Academies, member organizations of the National Academy Foundation.


If the 500 young men and women I met in Hershey and Manhattan are any indication of the USA's youth, then I am beyond optimistic about the country's future. What I saw on those two days without exception was a brilliant reflection of all FBLA and NAF do. Congratulations, PA FBLA and NYC Academies, and all the best for your success!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Number 500!

On January 5, 2005, I wrote the first post for WORDS ON THE LINE. Now, 2,958 days later, here comes my 500th post. 

I'm not patting myself on the back for this persistence--persistent though I am. Rather, as I reflect on these past eight years of blogging, I realize that many questions asked about writing or requests made for resources in my graduate-level courses, seminars, webinars, and coaching sessions have their responses right here. In fact, so much is here that I've "rediscovered" some of it for this post.

Feel free to forward WORDS ON THE LINE posts to anyone who would benefit from reading them. Here's to your writing--and the next 500 posts!

Friday, January 4, 2013


Celebrating the Eighth Anniversary of WORDS ON THE LINE


Today marks the eighth anniversary of WORDS ON THE LINE. I began this blog on January 4, 2005, to provide my clients with best practices and resources for writers in any job. 

Since that day, I have had the pleasure of consulting to auditors from the Ace Group in Philadelphia, telecommunication specialists from Alcatel-Lucent in Arizona, pharmaceutical researchers from Bristol-Myers Squibb in New Jersey, investment analysts from Citigroup in San Francisco, scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, accountants from Ernst & Young in Dallas, insurance adjusters from Selective Insurance in North Carolina, aircraft engineers from the US Air Force in Ohio, information technology engineers at Microsoft in Hyderabad, India, and MBA students at Peking University in China, among many other professionals across a broad spectrum of disciplines and organizations.

My goal is to keep readers informed, encouraged, and even inspired as they deal with the daily challenges of communicating purposefully, clearly, and concisely to all levels internally and externally under tight time constraints. Here’s to your writing!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


A Grammar Cop Throws the Book at Job Prospects

An article by iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens in The Harvard Business Review assures us that we need good grammar if we are to work for him. Mr. Wiens requires job applicants to take a grammar test, which he calls his “litmus test” in deciding whether to hire them. And he makes a good argument for us to believe that his standards are shared by many hiring managers when he writes:


Grammar signifies more than just a person's ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing—like stocking shelves or labeling parts. ... I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important.


Many practical tips on grammar and usage appear in The Art of On-the-Job Writing.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good Grammar Remains a Hot Issue

For the past 28 years, I have heard executives and managers tell me how they cringe when their employees abuse Standard English rules. Needless to say, those complaints increased as email grew in popularity and have become even louder as smartphones allowed us to text on the run. The Wall Street Journal reminds us of this common managerial grievance in a recent article.

Some organizations go so far as screening all staff emails to clients before approving their release. Others authorize only a select few employees to write directly to clients. Still others that do not have such a luxury of limiting external communication to a chosen few applies the sensible approach of requiring all important documents to undergo peer review to detect overlooked errors in grammar, diction, punctuation, and capitalization.

Of the 
many courses that I offer to companies, my Business Grammar workshop has generated the most interest recently. In fact, the American Management Association asked me last year to design its first AMA’s Business Grammar Workshop and this year to adapt it as a live online version.

Unquestionably, writers’ attention to grammar reflects their attention to detail, so grammar still does matter.

Saturday, January 7, 2012: How to Write Fast Under Pressure Gets Another Good Notice


In “Writing Fast Under Pressure,” an article by Amy Laine for Squidoo, the author has some useful ideas for writing a paper fast. She mentions How to Write Fast Under Pressure as a helpful resource, which is available in print and Kindle editions. Laine writes:

The book How to Write Fast Under Pressure by Philip Vassallo is an easy-to-read, step-by-step guide that introduces and teaches methods for a writer to become a speed writer while still improving their overall quality of their work.


Monday, January 2, 2012: Has New Look and Improved Content is completed revamped. You’ll notice there a cleaner look and extensive updates to courses I offer, clients I have served, and books I have read.


This website is a client-driven one, as I have tailored to address specific inquires about my corporate writing, editing, instructional design, training, and coaching services. My contact points appear at the footer of each page to expedite communication with me.



Monday, August 15, 2011: Writing for the Web Online Course Ready to Go


I recently completed designing the American Management Association's Writing for the Web course based on its successful classroom version. The course will run four consecutive weeks on the same weekday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. US Eastern time. I will be leading the first two offerings:

  • September 12, 19, 26, October 3 (Mondays)
  • November 28, December 5, 12, and 19 (Mondays)

The program focuses on writing skills needed for creating clear, concise online content, but it also looks closely at search engine optimization, social media platforms, blogging, and websites.


You can register by clicking here.


Books by Philip Vassallo

Monday, July 25, 2011: A New Look and a Quick Tour

Those who have loyally checked into WORDS ON THE LINE over the past six-and-a-half years will notice a new look. Blogger by Google has made quite a few formatting improvements to this site, reinforcing my commitment to stick around.
 For those of new to the site, you will notice that you can view this blog in multiple ways:

In the Left Column
  • Read the seven most recent posts in reverse chronological order.


In the Right Column
  • Search any topic from 412 posts on this blog by writing your keyword in the search box.
  • Learn about me by clicking on my name.
  • Review other links to me, including my website, Twitter, book reviews, and news.
  • Click on any of the labels, or blog topics, sized by frequency of posting
  • Click on posts by date
  • Click on sites that I frequent for information and inspiration
Please feel free to link this site to anyone you think would benefit from reading it.

Books by Philip Vassallo

How to Write Fast Under Pressure

The Art of E-mail Writing

The Art of On-the-Job Writing

The Inwardness of the Outward Gaze: Learning and Teaching Through Philosophy



Tuesday, January 04, 2011: Happy Anniversary, Words on the Line!

Today is the sixth anniversary of the Words on the Line blog. I celebrated it by presenting a national webinar called How to Write a Darn Good E-mail for the American Management Association, and by committing to keep this blog alive for as long as it helps writers. My other writers’ resources include:


Here's to your writing success in 2011!


Books by Philip Vassallo



Sunday, December 5, 2010: AMA Webinar Another Success


The American Management Association ran my popular webinar, How to Write a Darn Good E-mail, once again on December 3, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Other scheduled dates are January 4 and March 31. The program focuses on the following points:

  • Get started quickly
  • Write attention-getting subject lines, openings and closings
  • Create clear, concise e-mail that gets results
  • Maintain a professional tone
  • Polish your e-mail to perfection
  • Discover the do’s and don’ts of e-mail

Signing up for this webinar is easy and inexpensive. The value is there, I assure you—as a thousand others who have tuned in before would tell you.


Books by Philip Vassallo


Monday, September 20, 2010Reprise: "How to Write a Darn Good Email” on September 21


For the seventh time, the American Management Association will run my webinar How to Write a Darn Good Email tomorrow, September 21, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The program provides tips on getting to the point, setting the right tone, and organizing complex emails. There also will be plenty of time to have your questions about email composition and management answered.

It's not too late to sign up for this reasonably priced webinar. Here's the information and registration link:



Monday, June 28, 2010: Official English? Why Bother!


The English-as-the-official-language movement just won’t go away. The Hill Country Observer of Cambridge, New York, reported that the town council of Jackson, New York (population: 1,700) recently made political hay by passing an ordinance declaring English the town’s official spoken and written language. Reporter Evan Lawrence writes in “Making a Statement, in Plain English” (June 2010) that the town’s ruling brought the American Civil Liberties Union bearing down on it to reverse the law, and everyone in the area seems to have an opinion on the matter.

No doubt, the issue is controversial. On one side stand those who believe that benevolent face of diversity brings with it a sinister aspect—a corruption of the primary language and an unfair bias toward Spanish, the nation’s second language, over other world languages. On the other side are those who believe that such a law is harshly discriminatory and unwelcoming toward visitors who communicate in a nonnative first language.

Those who support the English-first movement have overlooked an obvious fact: English already is the de facto first language—not only of Jackson, not only of New York, not only of the USA, not only of North America, but of planet Earth. English is the official language of the international marketplace. Wherever I go, I hear businesspeople say that if they want to get ahead in their company, they need to learn English. This is the reason that jobs are available to teach English overseas in virtually every non-English speaking country in the world.

As for America’s national bias toward Spanish, why not? More people on this side of the world speak Spanish than English as a first language. People from Spanish-speaking countries and territories are our neighbors—neighbors who work hard, admire the United States, and want for their family what English-speaking people do: success that can come far easier only by mastering English.

Why should Americans feel insecure about their language? To make it in the USA, people have no choice but to learn English. No law will change that reality.

Books by Philip Vassallo



Monday, June 14, 2010: Reader Comments in English Are Welcomed


I have been receiving several comments from around the world on my WORDS ON THE LINE posts. As much as I appreciate them, I will post only those appearing in English in the interest of my readers, who strive to improve their own, their staff's, or their students' English writing skills.

I welcome your relevant comments on any WORDS ON THE LINE post, but please comment in English. Thank you.

Books by Philip Vassallo


Saturday, June 5, 2010: AMA E-mail Webinar Reprise


It’s still not too late to register for How to Write a Darn Good E-mail, the popular webinar by the American Management Association, running from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 8, or Friday, July 9. I will be presenting the program, which focuses on the following points:

  • Get started quickly
  • Write attention-getting subject lines, openings and closings
  • Create clear, concise e-mail that gets results
  • Maintain a professional tone
  • Polish your e-mail to perfection
  • Discover the do’s and don’ts of e-mail

Signing up is easy and inexpensive. The value is there, I assure you—as a thousand others who have tuned in before would tell you.



Sunday, March 28, 2010: How to Write a Darn Good E-mail a Big Success 

My webcast for the American Management Association (AMA), How to Write a Darn Good E-mail, broke an attendance record, as more than 200 people worldwide signed up for the 90-minute session on March 25.

The program focused on e-mail challenges such as getting to the point, organizing complex material, ensuring etiquette, and employing efficient strategies. I give a big thanks to the AMA staff for their good work in making this event so successful.

If you missed it, you can sign up at for the next session on Friday, July 9, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

My book The Art of E-mail Writing is on sale.



Saturday, March 27, 2010: How to Write Fast Under Pressure Gets a Must-Read Nod


How to Write Fast Under Pressure received yet another positive review. This latest one, from blogger George Angus at, places the book in a list of "10 Books That Will Help You Refine Your Writing Technique." Angus writes: “This book outlines a strategy for maintaining high standards of writing, even when under pressure, to make sure that all of your work comes out tip-top, even if you wrote it in half the time at 3am.”


Sunday, January 31, 2010: How to Write a Darn Good E-mail Scheduled for March 25


Here's a cost- and time-efficient way of refining your e-mailing skills: Tune in to the American Management Association's webinar How to Write a Darn Good E-mail. The 90-minute program will run from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern, and I will host it!

We'll be covering a lot of issues that matter to people who need to write a lot of politically sensitive e-mail under time pressure:

  • Getting started quickly
  • Crafting purposeful, concise e-mail
  • Reaching your target audience
  • Structuring longer messages for easy reading
  • Maintaining a professional style

We even take live questions from the audience. Hundreds of people who have already attended the program have said that what they gained from the webinar was well worth the nominal investment of $149 for registering. Hope to hear you there!


Monday, January 11, 2010: Virtual Writing Course Launches for AMA

The American Management Association (AMA) will present for the first time its virtual Business Writing Workshop, a program that I designed to cover ten fundamentals of excellent business writing.

AMA wanted to make this popular course available to people who would find greater convenience in taking the course without leaving their desk. This notion proved on target—we have participants signed up for this course from across the country and even internationally.

To learn more about signing up for this course, click here:



Monday, January 4, 2010: Happy Fifth Birthday, Words on the Line!


Well, 308 posts and 1,826 days later, this blog celebrates its fifth birthday today.

When I was five years old, I knew so little about the world but was eager to learn about it. I would like to think of this blog in the same vein. I have only begun writing about what it takes to become a better writer because writing is a skill that we never stop cultivating. So here is my promise to you: Through this blog, I will continue to bring to you:

  • precise tips for improving your writing
  • helpful grammar rules and their applications
  • inspirational ideas from master thinkers on the craft of writing
  • valuable online and print resources
  • brief reviews on books of interest
  • practical gems from adult learners in my writing workshops


Here’s to your writing!



Tuesday, December 22, 2009: More Praise for How to Write Fast Under Pressure

 Another good review came in for my fourth book on writing, How to Write Fast Under Pressure ( The critic, Mayra Calvani, for, writes:

I found the book well structured and the writing straightforward and enjoyable. Vassallo uses clear examples and metaphors to demonstrate his ideas and techniques. It is a quick read, too. If you work in business and have to write fast under deadlines, I prompt you to get a copy of this book. But How to Write Fast isn’t only for business people, and most writers will benefit from this method.

Here’s the link:



Thursday, December 17, 2009: Praise for How to Write Fast Under Pressure

The Englewood Review of Books published a positive review of my latest book, How to Write Fast Under Pressure ( The reviewer, Chris Smith, writes:

Two of the most helpful facets of How to Write Fast Under Pressure were the “Three Big Questions” which Vassallo offers to clarify the direction of a writing project, and the “common energy stoppers” that would interrupt the flow of a writer’s work.

Here’s the link:



Thursday, December 3, 2009: Book Bites Interview Now Online

I had a great time being interviewed by Suzanne Lieurance today for her Book Bites ( In the 30-minute talk, Ms. Lieurance asks relevant questions of interest to school-aged as well as workplace writers. I was glad about having the chance to talk about the key aspects of the writing process and confidence game called writing.



Friday, November 20, 2009: How to Write Fast Under Pressure Goes on the Air

I will be doing a 30-minute interview on Book Bites for Kids (, hosted by author and radio personality Suzanne Lieurance on Thursday, December 3, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. The topic will be my latest book, How to Write Fast Under Pressure. We’ll be talking about the can-do attitude necessary to write efficiently with consistency and confidence. It should be of interest for adults as well as children, so be sure to tune in!



Friday, October 23, 2009: Writing Fast Course Available for Your Staff


Since the publication of my third book on writing, How to Write Fast Under Pressure (, more of my clients have been inquiring about whether I offer a course on the topic. I do. The course, Writing in a Heartbeat, comes with the book and focuses on the following topics:

  • Getting started quickly to reduce writer's block
  • Revising and editing efficiently to save time
  • Collaborating effectively with writing partners to maximize team assignments
  • Cultivating a can-do attitude to finish assigned writing tasks


Interested? Write me at or call me at 732-721-7577 to discuss how you can bring this program to your staff.



Friday, September 25, 2009: How to Write Fast Under Pressure Released


My newest book is in print. How to Write Fast Under Pressure (AMACOM Books) results from years of teaching people in the corporate world, as well as on the undergraduate and graduate levels, to write successfully on deadline. It is chock full of sensible reflections and useful tips on dealing with the daily grind of writing for multiple projects with varied purposes and readers. Here is the link at Amazon:



Sunday, September 20, 2009: E-mail and Executive Summary Writing Courses Lead the Way


The two biggest requests that I've received from clients over the past year have been Writing Effective and Efficient E-mail and Powerful Executive Summaries. And those clients have spanned a broad range of sectors and industries: banking, insurance, legal, transportation, government, and nonprofit social services.

The reasons for these calls are simple: the course format and the relevant content. Both of these courses are one-day-only offerings, which suit the intense time pressure exacted on staff these days. Both reflect the real deal: the e-mail course ( is a natural because e-mail is the means by which most on-the-job writing is done these days; the executive summary course ( is in demand since the challenge is greater than ever to compress huge amounts of critical information into precise, high-level messages for executive review.

The reaction to these courses has been excellent. Participants get to practice writing in real-life situations and receive extensive feedback throughout the day. The requests for repeat offerings tell the story.

Questions? Contact me:



Friday, July 10, 2009: Milestone for The Art of On-the-Job Writing

My first book on writing at work, The Art of On-the-Job Writing, recently went into its second printing, according to the publisher, First Books. The book focuses on writing effectively (quality) and efficiently (speed). You can read passages of the book by clicking here: The Art of On the Job Writing. Or you can learn more about the book by clicking here:




Wednesday, July 8, 2009: Twittering Like Mad


Since June 26, I have been twittering the world to offer tips on writing and creativity as well as to lay down an interesting idea or two. The posts there are extremely concise, and most provide links to great websites. My site is, but you can access it at (click on “Twittering”).



Wednesday, May 20, 2009: Online Courses on the Way


I have decided to offer online minicourses and webinars in 2009. They will include the content on my one-, two-, and three-day writing workshops, and they will cover a broad range of writing topics, such as e-mail, grammar, customer service correspondence, executive summaries, proposals, reports, audit reports, meeting minutes, instructions, marketing materials, Web 2.0, English as a Second Language, and much more.

These courses will be ideal for people in numerous situations:

  • clients who are not inclined or have the time to attend my in-depth sessions
  • those who feel a small time and cost investment would better serve their needs
  • writers who want just a refresher of the key concepts covered in the lengthier course

More announcements will appear on this blog as they become available. Keep posted!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009: Most of the World in One Room
A group of 19 engineers was in attendance for an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) writing class I recently conducted in New York City. Counting myself, I realized that to my pleasure, but not to my surprise, each of us represented a different nation of origin (listed in order of greatest population): China, India, United States, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico, Philippines, Vietnam, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, Ukraine, Colombia, Poland, Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Bulgaria, and Slovakia! In a world of 6.7 billion souls, those 20 countries represent only 9 percent of all the 220-plus nations and territories on Planet Earth, but their 3.9 billion residents account for 58 percent of the world’s population—more than half the world!

What’s the point? I could think of three:

  1. It doesn’t get more diverse than working in New York; for this very reason, I love working there.
  2. It goes to show that the United States does not need to make English the official national language, since so many people want to learn English, which has become the unofficial language of the world marketplace, anyway.
  3. It proves that the term ESL is a misnomer because for the multilingual professionals who come to my writing courses, English is the first language of their jobs. What they do at home is their business; however, they are all well aware that English is their first on-the-job language. They desire to get it right—and they leave the course feeling their progress.


Thursday, April 2, 2009: E-mail Webcast a Hit

Yesterday my webinar for the American Management Association (AMA) went exactly according to plan. How to Write a Darn Good E-mail generated abundant, spirited participation from attendees across the country as I fielded challenging questions that clarified the key teaching points, which included getting to the point, structuring messages clearly, and coming across professionally.
The 90-minute midday session featured two case studies, one from a manager to a subordinate and another from a salesperson to a potential client. These situations served as springboards for discussions about e-mail best practices. The program went well with the help of Richard Bradley, AMA portfolio manager and host; David Summers, webcast producer; and Kevin Lee, director.

You can get plenty of free webcasts on a whole host of business issues at the AMA website:



Sunday, March 1, 2009: AMA E-mail Webinar Scheduled


Some time back, I had the pleasure of doing my first of two webinars for the American Management Association (AMA). Titled How to Write a Darn Good E-mail, the program featured a 45-minute talk with AMA Portfolio Manager Richard Bradley and me about the do’s and don’ts of e-mail writing. Some 1,500 people across the USA tuned into the program, which received high ratings.

I have now expanded that webinar for AMA to a 90-minute session, to be broadcast live on Tuesday, March 31, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern—and registrations are flying in. Here are the key teaching points:

  • Understanding challenges of e-mail communication
  • Getting started quickly: idea lists, the three As (aim, audience, area)
  • Getting to the point: strong subject lines, openings and closings
  • Structuring your message clearly
  • Helpful guidelines for structuring your message
  • Maintaining a professional tone by recognizing what is and is not appropriate for e-communications
  • Polishing your e-mail for a professional style for yourself and your organization


I can’t wait to present it! You can register by clicking this link:



Thursday, February 5, 2009: New Half-Day Seminars Available

In these difficult economic times (aren’t you already sick of hearing that phrase?), the need for training has not diminished, but the availability of staff has. As a result, several of my clients are calling for half-day classes, programs which may impart a nugget or two of useful information that may help their staff back at office.

This request has led me to offer three new half-day programs:

  • Writing in a Heartbeat, which offers tips on writing quickly on demand
  • Making Your E-mail Fly, a revised course that focuses on creating clear, concise e-mails
  • Briefing Briefly, a condensed minicourse on executive summary writing

Clients who have subscribed to these courses have said that they are right on the mark because they hit the few most important points to create gold standard messages under tight time constraints. If you think any of these programs might be useful to your staff, please reach me at



Wednesday, January 28, 2009: Structure Rules!

My book The Art of E-mail Writing is built on 21 maxims, one of them being “structure rules.” With a solid sense of structure, writers can communicate multiple items to diverse audiences and systematically convey the most complex issues to the least informed readers.

I was illustrating this point in a writing class by pointing to the strong organization of a participant’s writing sample. Another participant, Julie Wang, an underwriter from the Provident Bank, summarized the critique beautifully when she said, “Structure has no language.”

What a terrific thought! Good structure transcends language skills. Without first knowing the best order to convey the many ideas that reader needs to know, we’re just wasting our time trying to create good sentences, which may be meaningless to our purpose. Get the structure in order first, and then elaborate.



Thursday, January 08, 2009: Second SEPTA Contract Moves Forward

I am well into my second contract with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia. The program calls for a periodic one-day grammar and writing class for up to 18 participants, ranging from administrative support to technical and managerial staff.

While I actually enjoy the reading time afforded by the pleasant Amtrak train ride from Central New Jersey to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, the best part of this experience is working with SEPTA staff. They seem hungry for the training, eager to share their ideas, and determined to improve their writing skills. What else can a writing consultant ask for?



Friday, December 26, 2008: New Book in the Works

My third book on writing, on the topic of writing fast at work, is due for publication by AMACOM Books, a leading publisher of business management, communication, and leadership titles. Tentatively titled In a Heartbeat: Writing Fast at Work, the book is based on How to Write Fast When It’s Due Yesterday, a one-day course I designed for the American Management Association, the parent organization of AMACOM.

The book will include tips on getting started quickly, overcoming writer’s block, generating ideas, rewriting proficiently, planning for emergency writing situations, and many other issues related to writing productivity. It should appear on shelves by mid-2009.

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:



Friday, December 12, 2008: “How to Write Fast” Webcast Now Online

My webcast, How to Write Fast When It’s Due Yesterday, is now available for viewing free of charge at the American Management Association’s (AMA) website ( It discusses problems that prevent writing efficiency and provides tips on making writing less painful and more proactive.

This is my second webcast at AMA. The first, How to Write a Darn Good E-mail, can be seen here:

Both of these hour-long programs have been viewed by thousands of corporate employees across the country. They're definitely worth a peek.



Friday, December 5, 2008: New ESL Course Designed for AMA

Be on the lookout for the American Management Association’s (AMA) new course, Business Writing for the Nonnative English Speaker. I designed this three-day program for AMA, an international training organization, relying on my years of experience in delivering my own English-as-a-Second-Language instruction for engineering, scientific, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, and financial firms. The course provides model documents, a broad range of writing topics, plenty of intensive writing practice opportunities, and ample tome to receive individual feedback. I will lead the first two sessions, in San Francisco, January 12-14, and New York, February 2-4. You may register for this course directly at the AMA website. Here’s the link:



Sunday, May 25, 2008: Philip Vassallo in


My writing consulting practice was recently featured in an article on, a business website focusing on a hole host of communication issues. In a 1,300-word article, “Philip Vassallo Teaches Corporate Communicators How to Have the Write Stuff,” writer Kelly Kass accurately depicts some of the major issues that arise in my practice and underscore my books The Art of On-the-Job Writing and The Art of E-mail Writing:
  • Dealing with writer’s block
  • Understanding the role of audience in writing at work
  • Distinguishing between revising and editing, and which to do first
  • Focusing on the 4S Plan in writing: statement, support, structure, and style
  • Writing collaboratively and for the boss’s signature
  • Committing to continuous improvement in writing
  • Managing e-mail effectively


Here’s the link:


To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:



Sunday, April 27, 2008: New AMA Course: How to Write Fast When It’s Due Yesterday

I am having a great time designing the course How to Write Fast When It’s Due Yesterday for the American Management Association (AMA). This one-day course focuses on creative techniques to break through writer’s block in the face of multiple writing projects for diverse audiences under tight deadlines. It will launch on October 24 in New York, followed by classes on November 14 in San Francisco and December 19 in Chicago.

To read more about the course, visit the AMA site by clicking here:


To purchase your copy of The Art of E-Mail Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:



Wednesday, February 13, 2008: New AMA Course: How to Write Fast

I’m excited to be designing a new one-day course for the American Management Association (AMA): How to Write Fast When It’s Due Yesterday. The course will offer practical tips for jumpstarting the writing process, dealing with writing pressure at work, and taking a more proactive stance toward managing writing tasks.

I had a great time designing and delivering How to Write a Darn Good E-Mail, another one-day course for AMA in 2006 because I had a strong support team working with me. After attending today’s storyboard session for How to Write Fast, I am confident about an excellent outcome.

The course will launch on October 24 at the AMA New York City office, and then at its centers in San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, DC, so keep your eyes open for it!

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:

To purchase your copy of The Art of E-Mail Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:



Friday, January 5, 2007: Webcast: How to Write a Darn Good E-Mail

 On October 6, 2006, I had the great pleasure of presenting a webcast with Richard Bradley, Faculty Practitioner of the American Management Association (AMA), titled How To Write a Darn Good E-Mail. The premise of the 45-minute program was that e-mail presents numerous opportunities—as well as challenges—for employees to deliver their organization’s message. Richard and I covered several key points to help you maximize your e-communication skills:
  • getting started quickly
  • writing attention-getting subject lines, openings, and closings
  • creating clear, concise e-mail that gets results
  • maintaining a professional tone
  • polishing your e-mail to perfection

I assure you: checking out this free webcast from your home or office is time well spent. Here’s the link to the webcast:

We also previewed the new, exciting one-day seminar, AMA’s e-Communications Workshop, which I designed for the organization. It’s a great course because of its interactive, high-tech approach to training. There’s no other workshop like it. Here is the link to the seminar:

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:



Tuesday, January 10, 2006: Win a Copy of THE ART OF ON-THE-JOB WRITING!

First Books, Inc. will be giving away a free copy of my book The Art of On-the-Job Writing to the winner of its first "Worst Writing at Work" contest. For the fun of it, I encourage you to enter.

What you'll need is a good sense of humor and a thick skin because you'll have to admit to an embarrassing mistake that you made in an e-mail. (If you go the contest website,, you can read a humbling mistake that I made.) Just entering the contest entitles you to a 10% discount on the book, so in a sense everyone who enters is a winner.

Visit for contest details. Have fun!

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here:



Saturday, August 20, 2005: The Art of On-the-Job Writing Is Now Available


The second edition of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo is now available through FirstBooks. Here is what the publisher has to say about the book:

Become a more effective and efficient writer today!

More than a technical manual of writing style and grammar, this book offers a unique method for achieving workplace-writing success by offering four critical tools: the PDQ integrated writing process (planning, drafting, quality controlling); the 4S Plan for composing writing product (statement, support, structure, style); techniques to move writers from a me-focused style of essay writing to a results-oriented, us-focused business writing style and it-focused technical writing style; and the groundwork for becoming and remaining a successful on-the-job writer through inspirational, memorable, and relevant writing tips.

For 25 years, Philip Vassallo has developed and presented training programs for thousands of administrative, technical, and managerial professionals. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a doctorate in education.

“…can be profitably read by writers new to the world of work-related documents, and by experienced professionals, who will also gain from its new approach to clear and purposeful business writing.” – Martin H. Levinson, ETC: A Review of General Semantics

To order a copy, follow this link:



Wednesday, July 6, 2005: “The Art of Apology” in ETC.


The twenty-fifth article of Philip Vassallo's WORDS ON THE LINE column appears in the current issue of ETC: A Review of General Semantics (62.3, July 2005). The article, "The Art of Apology," offers a rationale and strategy for writing a sincere and thorough apology.


WORDS ON THE LINE, Vassallo's widely referenced and praised column on effective writing at work, has been published in ETC. by the Institute of General Semantics ( since 1992. The Institute was founded in 1943 by world-renowned author, lecturer, and politician Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa. The column focuses on a broad range of writing themes, including purposefulness, completeness, organization, style, tone, and e-mail etiquette. It has covered special-purpose messages, such as admissions essays, customer correspondence, evaluation reviews, executive summaries, meeting minutes, proposals, and technical reports. Selected articles from WORDS ON THE LINE have been reprinted in course software, business periodicals, and books by major business and academic publishers. Besides writing the column, Vassallo has also published social commentary, book reviews, poetry, and drama in the periodical. A bibliography of WORDS ON THE LINE appears below.


WORDS ON THE LINE Articles by Philip Vassallo

1. Know the P.R.I.C.E. of Your Writing (49.4) Winter 1992-93
2. Writing from the Heart (50.1) Spring 1993
3. The You Understood (50.2) Summer 1993
4. Fog Lifting and Ice-Breaking in Your Writing (50.4) Winter 1993-94
5. How Clearly Do Your Words Communicate? (53.1) Spring 1996
6. U-Mail, I-Mail — More Effective E-Mail (55.2) Summer 1998
7. Using the 4S Plan to Know Your Writing Strengths and Needs (55.4) Winter 1998-99
8. From Me to Us: Crossing the Bridge from Academic to Business Writing, with Barrett J. Mandel (56.3) Fall 1999
9. Beware the Seven Deadly Sins of Tone (57.1) Spring 2000
10. Protect Your R.E.P.: Revise, Edit, Proofread (58.1) Spring 2001
11. Meeting of the Minutes: Writing Meeting Minutes (58.2) Fall 2001
12. Persuading Powerfully: Tips for Persuasive Writing (59.1) Spring 2002
13. Using the Rule of Six to Convey Complex Content (59.2) Summer 2002
14. Reporting for Results: Creating a Checklist (59.3) Fall 2002
15. Egad! Another E-mail: Using E-Mail Sensibly (59.4) Winter 2002
16. Where Less Really Is More: Executive Summaries (60.1) Spring 2003
17. Writing Correctly Is Not Necessarily Writing Well (60.2) Summer 2003
18. Admissions Essays with a Focus on Getting In (60.3) Fall 2003
19. Using the Customer Service Triad for Client Correspondence (60.4) Winter 2003-04
20. Turning Emotional Energy into Purposeful Writing (61.1) April 2004
21. Getting Started with Evaluation Reports: Answering the Questions (61.2) July 2004
22. Getting Started with Evaluation Reports: Creating the Structure (61.3) October 2004
23. The Two Levels of Writing to the Point (62.1) January 2005
24. The Power of And … Blah, Blah, Blah (62.2) April 2005
25. The Art of Apology (62.3) July 2005


Saturday, June 25, 2005: WORDS ON THE LINE Referenced Again

Once again, we've spotted evidence that people around the globe are checking into WORDS ON THE LINE. The April 12 entry, "The Pluses and Minuses of Distance Learning," was referenced in "Wired Temples," a blog created by Robert Micallef, and economics professor who resides in Belgium and the Czech Republic. His blog is on Maltese culture, news, society, people, history, and blogs.

Keep reading WORDS ON THE LINE for useful tips and terrific resources on effective writing. Meanwhile, if you find a print or electronic point of interest and value, feel free to write Phil Vassallo at



Thursday, March 24, 2005: What Do You Mean What Do I Mean?: Join IGS!

As a member of the Institute of General Semantics (IGS), formerly the International Society for General Semantics, for the past 15 years, I have had the great pleasure of receiving an excellent education on the communicator's ultimate vocabulary. I speak not about the denotative or even connotative meanings of words. We have dictionaries and thesauri for the former, and pop psychologists, spin doctors, and talk show hosts for the latter. Instead I refer to the meanings we assign to language and the things they represent based on the boundaries of our experiences, emotions, relationships, and reactions to the moments in which encounter them.

Sounds complicated? Think twice. IGS possesses a seven-decade history of clarifying the abstractions in our daily interactions—abstractions that lead to conflicts with others as well as well as ourselves. It's not only what we say or even how we say it, but why, when, where, and to whom we say it in contexts which are forever changing and virtually impossible to define with the limited, static terms available to us.

To learn more about the remarkably useful discipline of general semantics, go the IGS website (, and browse its Learning Center, Library, or Bookstore for more information. You can easily become a member for the reasonable annual rate of $40, which includes the Institute's eclectic quarterly journal ETC: A Review of General Semantics; the quaterly newsletter Time-Bindings; the annual compendium publication The General Semantics Bulletin; a 20% discount on books, other merchandise; and gift memberships, and discounts on lectures, seminars, and other programs. Becoming a member would be a great step in a an endless voyage of learning.



Tuesday, March 15, 2005: Welcome, Online Students!


Philip Vassallo welcomes 21 students from the banking industry in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey to the premiere run of Effective Business Writing, the online course which he designed for the Center for Financial Training Atlantic and Central States (CFTACS).


This course is available to anyone interested in improving his or her writing skills and receiving 3 undergraduate credits at a reasonable cost in the self-paced, convenient environment afforded by distance learning. Students have access not only to the resources and tips mentioned on this website, but other great features as well:

  • a secure course website with interpretive lecture notes to accompany an excellent course textbook
  • a community discussion to help keep students connected with each other and Dr. Vassallo
  • a companion CD loaded with writing advice, practice exercises, review slides, and up-to-date resources
  • in-depth analysis of their written assignments


To sign up for the course, reach CFTAS by phone (860-886-6153) or through the Web (



Saturday, January 8, 2005: Phil Vassallo Designs New Online Business-Writing Course


I have just completed designing a three-credit online business-writing course, titled Business Communication, for the Center for Financial Training Atlantic States. It is one of the most comprehensive asynchronous undergraduate writing programs a student is likely to find anywhere.


The course emerges from my two decades experience in:

  • teaching business writing on the college level
  • delivering hundreds of writing seminars in the corporate world
  • designing curricula and courses for diverse organizations
  • assessing thousands of work-related documents
  • coaching executive, technical, and administrative staff in writing

Business Communication will give students the opportunity to post documents and responses to chapter readings on a course discussion board and receive professional feedback on their e-mails, memos, letters, proposals, reports, and resumes.

To sign up for the course (Business Communication, Course #1870), contact CFT at See you online!



Tuesday, January 4, 2005: WORDS ON THE LINE Article Receives Praise from Students


Here's a thank you to the two students who found one of my WORDS ON THE LINE essays helpful enough to post positive commentary about it on their blog. They appear below.



Saturday, September 27, 2003: Critique of article written by Philip Vassallo


Vassallo, Philip. "Writing Correctly is Not Necessarily Writing Well." Summer2003. ETC: A Review of General Semantics. 24 September 2003.


I reviewed an article recently written by Philip Vassallo titled "Writing Correctly is Not Necessarily Writing Well" and I feel the article had a lot of good ideas. Some people have a talent when writing papers which allows them to "fluff up" a paper but after reading the paper there may not be any pertinent information or idea in the whole paper. As stated in the article, grammar is important but if the words do not effectively keep one's attention or the author does not stick to the point then is this really a good paper written well. I agree that more emphasis should be put on the content and structure and when judging a paper this should have more weight then grammar. Just because you know where to put your period doesn't mean you have any worthwhile to say.





Monday, September 29, 2003


Philip Vassallo discusses in his article titled ”Writing Correctly Is Not Necessarily Writing Well” that how we use our words is far more important than the “grammatical correctness”(186). To me this means that I need to be careful that I talk about the topic without using words that do nothing but take up space. I also need to be careful when making comparisons. I need to make sure that the things I am comparing are proportionate to one another. The last detail is that I need to be able to back up my statements. The sources that I use need to be based on truthful facts and that the author on the facts is an authority on the subject. As long as I follow this rule, my essays will be both grammatically correct and will give the reader a more enjoyable experience.