What You Should Know About Business Writing
Business writing includes reports, emails, memorandums, proposals, and other types of writing used by organizations and businessmen. It’s also referred to as professional writing and business communication. College-Writers team decided to help you improve your business writing with some tips from our best experts.
Business writing is not only informative but also transactional, instructive, and persuasive. The main goal of professional writing is to deliver information effectively. Business writing should be clear, which makes it somewhat difficult.
Here are a few main functions of business writing:
Delivering news: Professional writing is used to share important information with employees or people outside the company.
Explanation: This type of writing can also justify a certain action or explain it, especially if the issue is complicated.
Delivering information: The main function of such papers as memorandums and research reports is to share knowledge.
Influence: Quite often, business writing is used to persuade others to take action. It may also encourage readers to purchase a service or a product.
Business writing is different from many other types of writing because it’s intended to be read quickly. At the same time, the audience should understand the content clearly. Professional writing should deliver a clear message.
Another distinctive feature of business writing is that it’s transactional. Not only does it relate to business but also to sales or any other specific transactions between two parties. Business writing always has a particular purpose.
Style and Grammar
Business writing has a number of requirements regarding grammar and style. Here are the most important rules:
- Mind your audience and make sure that your tone matches the subject and the message that you want to deliver. For instance, a grant proposal and a letter of complaint will certainly differ in terms of a tone.
- Don’t use too many visuals. According to Technical & Business Writing, graphic displays should make 10%-25% of a business paper.
- Avoid gender-biased language. Sexism is a serious issue, and most modern companies don’t tolerate the use of sexist language.
- Don’t try to impress your audience with sophisticated terms and avoid jargon of any kind. For instance, we recommend that you say “aware” instead of “cognizant,” and “complete” instead of “aggregate.”
- Don’t use unsupported generalizations. For example, instead of writing “The only way to lose weight is counting calories,” write “One of the most successful ways to lose weight is counting calories.”
- Stick with active verbs and keep it simple. Passive voice is harder to read and doesn’t fit the purpose of business writing. We recommend that you keep it simple and say “An advisor will assist” instead of “An advisor was assigned to assist.”
Examples of Business Writing
There are many types of business writing besides emails and letters. However, letters, emails, and memos are the most common.
This is an internal business document written by a person who works in a company for another person from the same company or even the same department. It begins with lines entitled “TO,” “FROM,” “DATE,” and “SUBJECT.” Most often, these lines are written in all caps. A business memo should include the full name of the sender, followed by their title. The same format applies to the recipient. These four short lines convey a lot of important information in a concise form.
An introductory paragraph is followed by a few body paragraphs that provide the necessary details or explain a certain argument. If your memo is longer than 4-5 paragraphs we recommend that you use subheadings in title case. If you want to include any additional materials, you can attach them at the end.
Business letters are somewhat similar to business memos, however, they also have certain differences. Letters are usually up to 5.5 paragraphs long and more personal. The use of the first person is appropriate if you want to remind what you and the receiver have in common.
A business letter has a lot in common with a sales pitch. For example, you may present the true purpose of the letter in the second or third paragraph. Business letters should be informative, transactional, persuasive, and instructional. Business letters may provide crucial information about a company’s offers.
Emails are a very important part of business conversations. They must be brief because the business world lives at a fast pace. Your recipient must be able to read the email quickly. Therefore, such emails begin with a subject line, followed by a brief salutation. There’s no need to include your address or the date, as all this information is already available when receiving the email.
You can use bullet points in your emails and attach any additional materials. However, we suggest that you take a look at the emails that you’ve received from the recipient and determine the appropriate level of formality and style. For example, sometimes you may need to include your address.
If you attach position papers, discussions, invoices, and reports, use the PDF format, Microsoft Word, or Google Docs. Make sure that your recipient can access all your documents.
1. Start with your main points
When writing a memo or a letter, state what exactly you want and why you’re writing this letter. However, if it’s a sales pitch, it makes sense to reveal your main points later.
2. Avoid jargon and too specific terms
Don’t make your emails and letters too technical. If you need to use jargon, attach a report that will explain it.
3. Use simple words
“Expect” is a better choice than “anticipate,” and “about” is better than “concerning.”
4. Use “we’ve” instead of “we have” and “we’re” instead of “we are”
Even though contractions used to be considered inappropriate in professional writing, this trend has changed during the last few years because companies realize the importance of making business correspondence accessible.
5. Use the active voice
This rule has always worked in journalism, and it’s also important in business writing. For example, if you say “The decision has been taken,” this phrase is not only hard to read but it also doesn’t tell us who made the decision. The active voice is more informative and it also uses fewer words.
6. Don’t use too many fonts
Use Times New Roman, Helvetica, or another common and clean font. Keep your correspondence neat and simple so that it will be easy to read.
7. Grammar is important, but don’t be too serious about it
Obviously, you shouldn’t make mistakes, but if you see that some phrase used in spoken language allows you to express your idea clearly, while the grammatically correct form is too long or hard to read, we suggest that you choose a spoken phrase. For example, say “The CEO needs an explanation of what these funds will be used for” instead of “The CEO needs an explanation for what these funds will be used.”