The papers in this collection are all concerned with a rather special type of discourse: they deal with either spoken or written language which was produced in what could be called an "institutional", professional context. Despite the growing interest within discourse pragmatics for language produced within an institutional framework, existing publications tend to concentrate either on one specific type of institutional setting (e.g. business negotiations) or on one specific research tradition (e.g. conversation analysis). The present book is rather different in concept, in that the subject matter is approached from a variety of functional research traditions and methods, and in doing so cuts right across the spoken-written distinction. First of all, the contributors scrutinize a variety of discourse types, such as business interaction, business letters, classroom talk, political interviews, press releases, and pharmacist-patient interaction. Secondly, they show a variety of research traditions and methods at work, including systemic-functional linguistics, conversation analysis, social semiotics, ethnography, and cognitive grammar. Thirdly, since institutional communication takes place in various modes of speaking and writing, the present collection includes work on discourse in such varied modes as face-to-face interaction, media interviews, group interaction, news reports, and letters. This collection also offers an introductory overview of the field, as well as a selective bibliography of past research on institutional discourse, subdivided into seven major categories: business, medical, legal, classroom, media, political, and scientific/acedemic. Elements of all seven domains can, in various forms, be found in the present volume.