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Tips for Good Business Writing

You can contribute significantly to your business' success by
developing your writing skills.

If you're operating a business, eventually you will be required
to write a business document. It could be a business letter, a
business proposal, a business plan, a marketing strategy, copy
for your web site, a white paper, a job description, an inter-
office memo, a Board report, a press release, or"?

There is good news if writing is not your strong point. Writing
is a skill that can be learned. With practice, almost anyone
can learn to write an acceptable document.

Why is good writing important? First, some people will judge
you by your writing. Why risk losing customers or investors
because of a poorly written document?

Secondly, good business writing is easier to read and easier to
comprehend than poor writing. Clarity is always a goal when
writing business documents. Flowery prose is best left to
those who write fine literature.

Many written documents show dramatic improvement when a few
common writing errors are corrected. Try this test. Find a
letter or document you have written, and go through it making
the changes listed below. You could be surprised at the
improvement when you follow these basic guidelines.

Use the Active Voice
Write in the active voice instead of the passive voice. That
is, rather than writing, "The computer that belongs to my
brother," say, "My brother's computer." Rather than
writing, "The merchandise that was delivered yesterday,"
say, "Yesterday's merchandise delivery."

Many people find that by making this one change, they can
improve their writing substantially.

Tip: Use MS Word's Spell and Grammar feature to help find the
passive sentences. It's found in the Tool menu.

Use Tenses Consistently
Changing tenses through a document is a common mistake. Decide
which tense you want to write in, then stick to it. "Tense"
refers to the past, present, or future.

Past Tense: We did it this way.
Present Tense: We do it this way.
Future Tense: We will do it this way.

It is jarring to a reader to encounter tense changes such the
ones in this paragraph:

"We started our business in 1995. We sold and serviced vacuum
cleaners. My brother and I do everything ourselves."

The sentence would be better if written like this:

"We started our business in 1995. We sold and serviced vacuum
cleaners. My brother and I did everything ourselves."

Use Consistent Spellings and Punctuation

Certain words or terms can be written correctly in more than
one way. For example, "ecommerce" and "e-commerce" are both
correct. The key is to pick one spelling and use it
consistently throughout the document.

Similarly, Jane Doe, MD and Jane Doe, M.D. are both correct.
Again, you want to pick one usage and use it consistently.

If you're using numbers, decide whether to use the number signs
or to spell out the word. It's a common practice to spell out
numbers under ten and to use numerical signs for numbers over
i.e. We have eight employees."
"We have 28 employees."

Limit the use of Adverbs and Adjectives

Business writing is improved when adverbs and adjectives are
removed or used sparingly.

For example, "Our new facility is very, very spacious" is
better written as, "Our new facility is spacious."

"Our spacious, new facility really meets our needs," is better
written as, "Our spacious facility meets our needs."

And, most importantly of all:

Strive for Clarity

Be clear about your message. Identify the main point you want
to make for the entire document, then condense that point into
one sentence. You might use that one sentence, or you might
not. But you MUST decide what it is. If you have not formulated
this one point in your own mind, your writing will not portray
the most important thing you want to communicate.

For example, what is the one main message I want to communicate
with this article? It is sentence #1.

"You can contribute significantly to your business' success by
developing your writing skills."

About the Author

How to Write Business Plans, Business Proposals,
JV Contracts, Human Resource Package, More!
No-cost ebook "Beginners Guide to Ecommerce".
Business Writing by Nightcats Multimedia Productions

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