Writing in the workplace: Constructing documents using multiple digital sources


  • Mariëlle Leijten
  • Luuk Van Waes
  • Karen Schriver
  • John R. Hayes




professional communication, multiple sources, searching processes, document design, workplace writing, information design, cognitive processes, writing from sources, keystroke logging


In today’s workplaces professional communication often involves constructing documents from multiple digital sources—integrating one’s own texts/graphics with ideas based on others’ text/graphics. This article presents a case study of a professional communication designer as he constructs a proposal over several days. Drawing on keystroke and interview data, we map the professional’s overall process, plot the time course of his writing/design, illustrate how he searches for content and switches among optional digital sources, and show how he modifies and reuses others’ content. The case study reveals not only that the professional (1) searches extensively through multiple sources for content and ideas but that he also (2) constructs visual content (charts, graphs, photographs) as well as verbal content, and (3) manages his attention and motivation over this extended task. Since these three activities are not represented in current models of writing, we propose their addition not just to models of communication design, but also to models of writing in general.



How to Cite

Leijten, M., Van Waes, L., Schriver, K., & Hayes, J. R. (2014). Writing in the workplace: Constructing documents using multiple digital sources. Journal of Writing Research, 5(3), 285–337. https://doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2014.05.03.3