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NOC Code: NOC Code: 5121 Occupation: Authors and Writers
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Authors and writers plan, research and write books, scripts, storyboards, plays, essays, speeches, manuals, specifications and other non-journalistic articles for publication or presentation. They are employed by advertising agencies, governments, large corporations, private consulting firms, publishing firms, multimedia/new-media companies and other establishments, or they may be self-employed. Authors and writers plan, research and write books, scripts, storyboards, plays, essays, speeches, manuals, specifications and other non-journalistic articles for publication or presentation. They are employed by advertising agencies, governments, large corporations, private consulting firms, publishing firms, multimedia/new-media companies and other establishments, or they may be self-employed.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4 5
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4 5
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2 3 4
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3 4
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3 4
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2 3
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3 4
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3 4
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3


  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.


Reading Text
  • Read entries in dictionaries, glossaries and databases. For example, advertising and technical writers may read definitions of words in specialized dictionaries and in glossaries for subject areas such as electronics, software, aeronautics and chemical processing. They may also read definitions in on-line terminological and linguistic databases. (1)
  • Read short email. For example, copywriters may read email in which account executives invite them to advertising campaign briefings with media specialists and artistic directors. Feature writers may read email about submission deadlines from magazine editors. (2)
  • Read letters. For example, novelists, essayists, biographers and poets may read letters from editors about the publication of literary works. (2)
  • Read articles and editorials in newspapers and magazines. For example, advertising copywriters may read articles and editorials in newspapers and magazines to stay abreast of politics, sports and cultural events which may influence the public perception of products, services and advertising messages. Speech writers may read articles in Communications World, Toastmasters' Magazine, Speaking of Impact and Speech Writers' Newsletter to obtain practical speech writing advice. Novelists, essayists, biographers and poets may read reviews in the literary sections of newspapers and magazines to stay abreast of what is happening in the literary world and to find out what critics and reviewers think of their work. (3)
  • Read requests for proposals for projects which involve the provision of speech, technical and advertising writing services. For example, self-employed writers may read proposal requests to learn about the scope of proposed work, mandatory requirements for credentials, skills and experience, evaluation criteria and selection processes. (3)
  • Read contracts and agreements. For example, authors review contracts prepared by editors and publishers. They pay close attention to terms and conditions for matters such as numbers of copies printed, promotional efforts, publication delays, royalties and copyrights. They read these contracts carefully to ascertain that their interests are well served and their rights are protected. (3)
  • Read instruction manuals, 'help' items and 'frequently asked question' entries when operating computers and peripheral equipment. For example, a technical writer may read a manual to review the steps for modifying graphics using desktop publishing tools. (3)
  • Read works of non-fiction such as essays, journal articles, biographies and reports. For example, a copywriter may read several reports to learn about a consumer product and its marketing strategies and target markets prior to developing slogans for an advertising campaign. A writer may read history books, biographies of famous French Canadian female citizens, population studies and research articles in preparation for a speech on the role of women in the survival of French in Canada. Prior to writing a series of articles on the topic, a feature writer may read articles on gerontology in the Canadian Journal of Public Health and the British Medical Journal to learn about the health of seniors. (4)
  • Read literary works such as poetry, plays, short stories and novels. Read these works carefully to further your understanding of different literary genres and writing styles and help others enhance theirs. For example, novelists may read the works of contemporary authors such as Marguerite Duras and Nancy Houston to learn from their writing techniques and styles. They may also read literary works submitted by students and workshop participants in order to provide constructive criticism and guidance on matters such as flow, coherence, grammar and syntax. (5)
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Writing
  • Write email and short letters. For example, authors write letters to editors about manuscripts which they are submitting. Copywriters may write email to artistic directors to summarize the outcomes of brainstorming sessions. (2)
  • Write interview notes. For example, a feature writer who is writing an article on children's homework may take interview notes to summarize parents' opinions and capture quotations exactly. (2)
  • Write proposals for projects which involve the provision of speech, technical and advertising writing services. In these proposals, address project objectives and describe your academic background and relevant work experience. For example, a self-employed writer may prepare a proposal to offer speech writing services to a government department. An advertising writer may prepare a proposal to offer copywriting services to a cosmetics manufacturer. (3)
  • Write 'copy' for advertisements and marketing materials. Use short words and sentences, startling statements, quotes, storytelling and testimonials to bring out the selling features of products, services and organizations. For example, copywriters develop attention-catching themes, slogans, corporate signatures, headlines, taglines for newspaper and magazine advertisements, radio and television commercials, brochures and websites. They may also write direct marketing letters, advertorials and texts for point of purchase promotional materials such as posters, discount coupons and consumer contests. (4)
  • Write equipment manuals, fact sheets, specifications and other technical pieces. Gather, select, synthesize and rewrite information from various sources in order to create documents for targeted audiences. For example, lexicographers write the definitions and grammatical rules applying to specific words for dictionaries. Technical writers prepare and update specifications, product fact sheets, user guides, training manuals, on-line help and other texts to clearly and accurately explain the installation, operation and maintenance of software and equipment. (4)
  • Write works of fiction such as poems, plays, short stories and novels. Select topics, literary genres and writing styles, structures and techniques to create works which will capture, entertain and enlighten audiences. Develop themes, describe locations, decors, costumes and times, create characters, scenes and dialogues and build dramatic moments into the plots. For example, a novelist may write about the tragic destinies of three generations of women who experienced pregnancies during their teenage years. (5)
  • Write works of non-fiction such as speeches, essays, journal articles, biographies and reports. For example, a speechwriter may prepare speeches for senior executives by carefully crafting messages and punch lines and incorporating idioms which reflect the speakers' natural ways of expressing themselves. A feature writer may prepare a series of articles about the life styles, consumption patterns, investment habits and retirement projects of baby boomers. A biographer may write about an actress, teacher and playwright who became one of the first Canadian radio producers and television script writers. (5)
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Document Use
  • Locate data on labels and signs. For example, copywriters may locate sizes, weights and advertising slogans on product labels and posters. (1)
  • Locate data in lists, tables and schedules. For example, scan menus to locate search options in terminological and linguistic databases. Copywriters may skim advertising campaign schedules to locate production deadlines. Authors may scan royalty statements to locate data on quantities of books sold, list prices, royalty rates and sales earnings. (2)
  • Enter data into lists, tables and schedules. For example, enter references in bibliographies at the end of reports and manuals. Speech, technical and advertising writers may enter time allotted to various clients, projects and tasks into spreadsheet tables. Feature writers may enter article submission deadlines into calendars, timetables and schedules. (2)
  • Locate data and identify trends in graphs. For example, a writer preparing an essay on the saga of asbestos may scan a graph to assess the growth in asbestos production over several decades. (2)
  • Complete forms such as general ledgers, tax and source deductions, remittances and financial reports. Data from several sources may need to be combined to complete such forms. For example, authors and self-employed writers may enter dates, dollar amounts, account numbers and other data into manual and computerized general ledgers. (3)
  • Locate data in entry forms such as fax cover sheets, invoices and receipts. For example, authors and self-employed writers may scan receipts to identify claimable business expenditures. They may search different sections of receipts to locate the names of product vendors and service providers, federal and provincial sales taxes and other data. (3)
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Computer Use
  • Use Internet browsers to access the websites of professional writers' associations and participate in discussion forums. Feature writers may use these browsers to obtain information about writing topics and interview subjects. (2)
  • Use email programs to exchange email and attached documents with co-workers, colleagues and clients. (2)
  • Use spreadsheet programs to create work plans and invoices and to keep track of time devoted to writing projects. Embed formulas to perform calculations. (3)
  • Create and modify databases for writing projects using database programs. Search for, display and print information on the definitions, correct spellings, synonyms and idiomatic equivalents of words from on-line dictionaries and terminological databases. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, technical and advertising writers may produce schematic drawings using diagramming and drawing programs. They may select illustrations in clip art libraries and create them using programs. They may use photo editing software to develop and enlarge photos taken with digital cameras. They may create slide shows using presentation software. In order to develop effective presentations for their clients, they may import and place word processing files, spreadsheet tables, graphs, schematic drawings, clip art, photos and scanned images. They may also set up animated screen wipes and transitions. (3)
  • Write and edit text for novels, essays, plays, service offers, user guides, advertising brochures and feature articles using word processing programs. Supplement text with imported graphs, illustrations and spreadsheets. Use formatting features such as page numbering, heading levels, indices, footnotes and columns. Generate automated tables of contents and use word count, spell-check and track changes functions. (3)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, freelance authors and writers may enter purchases and sales to journals using financial software. They may also use quarterly sales tax report functions. (3)
  • Use computer and software applications. For example, use bibliography publishing and management software to gather on-line references, prepare bibliographies and publish them on the Internet. Technical writers may use desktop publishing tools to author and format texts for instruction manuals, user guides, on-line help and tutorials. They may also use screen capture and image editors to create screen captures for software manuals. Advertising and feature writers may use desktop publishing programs to author and format texts for print and interactive media. (4)
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Oral Communication
  • Discuss products and services with suppliers. For example, technical writers may order bound copies of user manuals from printers. (1)
  • Give directions to co-workers and colleagues and discuss ongoing work with them. For example, an advertising writer may show a helper how to prepare a mailing list. A biographer may give instructions to a subcontractor who is searching for press articles and photographs in the national archives. A feature writer may give directions to a graphic artist who is producing illustrations for a magazine article. (2)
  • Discuss writing assignments and work opportunities with clients. For example, self-employed technical writers may speak to clients to assess satisfaction with product fact sheets which they have prepared and to offer their services for writing user guides, training manuals and on-line help. (2)
  • Conduct interviews to collect data necessary for writing assignments. For example, speech writers may interview senior executives to learn about their ideas, preferences, personalities and speech patterns and to obtain quotes which they can use in speeches. Authors may interview personalities who can provide information not yet disclosed to the public about the subjects of biographies which they are writing. Feature writers may conduct interviews with key informants and subject matter experts to obtain facts and opinions for magazine articles. (3)
  • Discuss writing with co-workers, clients and colleagues. For example, speak to reviewers about changes needed to improve flow, coherence, readability and panache in essays, biographies, novels and feature articles. Copywriters may brainstorm with artistic directors to develop themes for promotional campaigns. They may also discuss translation of brochures, advertisements, commercials, posters and websites with translators. They must be explicit and precise to obtain translations which maintain the structure and style of the original texts while reflecting cultural differences. (3)
  • Deliver presentations and workshops to a wide range of audiences. For example, advertising copywriters may present slogans, corporate signatures and other creative concepts for promotional campaigns to groups of marketing executives. Authors may present their latest books at launchings, conferences and radio and television programs. They may also give writing workshops to groups of secondary and post-secondary students. They may present information on literary genres and writing styles, facilitate group discussions and answer questions from participants. (4)
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Money Math
  • Calculate and verify royalty amounts. For example, authors may calculate royalty amounts received from editors and publishers. They multiply gross sales by royalty rates. (2)
  • Calculate and verify travel reimbursement amounts for out-of-town interviews, meetings and conferences. For example, writers employed by advertising agencies, publishing firms and multimedia companies may calculate reimbursements for use of personal vehicles at per kilometre rates and add amounts for accommodation, meals and other expenses. (2)
  • Calculate and verify purchase order and invoice amounts. For example, calculate line amounts, taxes and totals on purchase orders for office equipment and other supplies. Self-employed speech, technical and advertising writers may calculate fees to be invoiced to clients for their services. They calculate line amounts and applicable sales taxes. (3)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Prepare and monitor schedules for writing projects. For example, a writer may prepare and monitor the schedule for a project involving the preparation of advertising brochures, training materials and installation instructions for a new computer pointing device. (2)
  • Calculate amounts for accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliations and summaries in general ledgers. For example, authors and self-employed writers may add and subtract transactions not listed on bank statements to produce monthly bank reconciliations. (3)
  • Prepare and monitor budgets for writing projects. For example, authors and self-employed writers may confirm that expenditures incurred for subcontracting and travel are fully covered in budgets. (3)
  • Prepare financial statements. For example, authors and self-employed writers may prepare monthly balance sheets, income and expense statements and statements of cash flows. (4)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure the duration of speeches, plays, humorous sketches and movie and television dialogues using clocks, watches and stopwatches. For example, a writer may time a speech by reading it aloud and taking opening and closing times on a clock. (1)
  • Measure the readability of writing using word and sentence counts and readability formulae. For example, advertising copywriters may calculate Gunning fog index to measure the readability of English texts written for newspaper and magazine advertisements, brochures and catalogues. (3)
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Data Analysis
  • Collect, analyze and interpret workload and sales data. For example, a self-employed writer may compare the number of assignments obtained over a period of time to identify deviations from targets. An author may compare quantities of books sold between summer and winter months to identify trends. (2)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate times to perform job tasks using past experience as a guide. For example, self-employed advertising writers estimate the number of hours which should be assigned to various copywriting tasks and the time intervals needed to obtain client approval and review of deliverables. (2)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Authors and writers plan and organize job tasks to meet the needs of writing assignments. Self-employed technical, advertising and feature writers often work on several projects at the same time and must be able to manage priorities. They may have to reorganize job tasks to cope with delays in obtaining important interviews and data, equipment breakdowns and other emergencies. Authors and writers may be responsible for assigning tasks to workers such as research assistants and proofreaders. (3)
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Decision Making
  • Select research assistants and proofreaders. Consider applicants' academic backgrounds, skills, work histories, strengths, weaknesses and availabilities. (2)
  • Accept and refuse suggestions for changes and edits to writing proposed by co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, authors accept editors' changes to essays, biographies, novels, feature articles and other texts when they believe that the changes will improve flow, coherence, readability and panache. (2)
  • Select office equipment to purchase. For example, self-employed technical and advertising writers may select desktop publishing software programs in order to broaden their range of contract opportunities. They verify which programs are most often used by clients. They also consider the costs and user-friendliness offered by each option. (2)
  • Decide to bid on projects which involve the provision of speech, technical and advertising writing services. Review requests for proposals, identify project tasks and requirements and bid on projects for which you have the necessary skills and resources. (3)
  • Choose approaches for writing assignments. For example, advertising writers may select short words and sentences, startling statements, quotes, news, storytelling and testimonials to bring out the selling features of products, services and organizations. Playwrights may select writing styles, structures and techniques to create monologues and dialogues which will capture, entertain, enlighten and influence audiences. (4)
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Problem Solving
  • Job tasks cannot be completed as planned because office equipment is not working properly and services such as telephone and Internet access are interrupted. For example, a writer may be unable to email a text to a client because Internet service is unavailable. The writer prints a copy of the text and sends it to the client by fax to avoid undue delay. (1)
  • Experience writers' block. Interrupt writing and do something else until inspiration returns. (1)
  • Realize that deadlines for the delivery of texts to clients, co-workers and colleagues will be missed because important data can not be obtained. Contact clients, co-workers and colleagues to outline the reasons for delays and negotiate new deadlines. (2)
  • Experience difficulties in finding publishers for your work. For example, authors may receive refusal letters from editors. They may contact these editors to find out why their manuscripts were refused and to ascertain if changes might improve the chances of manuscripts being published. They may then rewrite manuscripts and resubmit them to editors for review. (3)
  • Experience difficulty identifying, locating, contacting and interviewing people who have information relevant to writing assignments. For example, a feature writer may experience difficulty identifying informants willing to provide facts and opinions for a magazine article on the characteristics of successful work teams. The writer attempts to obtain names from friends, relatives and human resource managers in large corporations, but to no avail. The writer then contacts a business association's headquarters and convinces the director to send an emailed invitation which asks members to collaborate in the research. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Find information about unfamiliar terms by consulting co-workers and colleagues and by searching terminological databases, glossaries, technological files, textbooks, dictionaries and websites. (3)
  • Find information about potential clients, publishers, subcontractors and interviewees by searching their websites and contacting co-workers and colleagues who know them. (3)
  • Find information about the subjects of writing assignments. Analyze, synthesize and integrate information from a wide range of sources, including interview data, books, reports, studies, newspapers, magazines, academic journals and the Internet. For example, an author writing a biography may interview key personalities and subject matter experts and conduct extensive literature searches. (4)
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Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the relevance of information to writing assignments. For example, a feature writer may evaluate the relevance of many textbooks and journal articles when preparing a piece on women's ageing. The writer checks to see when these books and articles were published and whether they contain new information. (2)
  • Evaluate the performance of workers such as research assistants and proofreaders. As part of these assessments, determine the extent to which workers have met expectations and deadlines. Recommend and offer further assignments at the conclusion of these evaluations as appropriate. (2)
  • Evaluate the suitability of a writing style for given clients, audiences, topics and media. For example, an author may assess the suitability of a manuscript for particular publishers by reading abstracts of books in their catalogues. (3)
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