11 Tips To Improve Your Business Writing (With Examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated September 30, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019
Updated September 30, 2022
Published October 7, 2019
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Business writing is an essential skill in the workplace as it encompasses the ability to communicate clearly and concisely through documents, such as emails and reports. Learning effective techniques to strengthen your business writing skills can help you succeed in your career.
In this article, we discuss what business writing is, share 11 effective business writing tips and provide a five-step guide for improving your business writing.
What is business writing?
Business writing is a form of written professional communication. Business communications can be internal, which is when you're writing to those within your workplace, or external, written for clients or customers. Typically, business writing is practical, which means the documents are useful to the readers and they may perform an actionable step after reading it. The goal is to communicate your information clearly, accurately and efficiently. Some examples of business writing can include:
Related: 8 Examples of Business Writing
11 business writing tips
You can use these tips to help further develop your business writing skills:
1. Generate point ideas
You may find it helpful to generate point ideas before writing because it's helpful to understand the thoughts to include in the document. Begin with the information you're most comfortable and confident with and then return to complete the rest. Creating an ideas list may also help you in identifying themes within the topics, which you can then use to develop topic paragraphs or segments in your piece.
2. Use the active voice
The active voice provides clarity to writing and avoids wordiness. In the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action, but in the passive voice, the subject is acted on by the verb. For example, "The car was hit by the truck" is a passive sentence. "The truck hit the car," which puts the idea in the active voice, is more concise and helps the reader quickly understand the point of the sentence. The active voice may also help you sound like you're in control of your writing, increasing your influential writing authority to the reader.
3. Incorporate headings and subheadings
Section your writing into easily identifiable headings. Headers and sub-headers make it easier to scan and navigate the document for the reader. Headers can comprise the main section topic, while subheadings can break the main topic down into further, digestible sections for organization and clarification. These sections can also make it easier to break up long text sections and guide letters, reports or other document types.
4. Support your statements
Often, a paragraph begins with a main idea statement, but that idea can be more convincing if you support it with facts. When you have the opportunity, expand on any information you provide by using examples, figures or statistics. Providing support statements can help you add more validity to your claim and allow the reader to understand why you're including a specific piece of information and why it's relevant for them to understand within the context of the writing piece.
5. Implement journalistic strategies
Implementing journalistic strategies can help you ensure you're answering the relevant questions readers may have about your piece. A strategy you can use comprises answering the five Ws and H, which include answering the story's who, what, when, where, why and how. To help you ensure you're using this strategy correctly, consider asking your colleagues in a different department to review your document and if they have remaining questions about the piece.
6. Simplify your word choices
You may find it helpful to replace jargon with simplified word choices. Using universal language may make it easier for the reader to understand your writing, especially if they aren't familiar with the technical aspects of your role and department. It might be helpful to use a thesaurus to help you find simple words to replace your technical terms or ask your colleagues in other departments if your writing makes sense to them or if it can use further clarification.
7. Write out abbreviations and symbols
You may find it helpful to create a more professional document by writing out abbreviations and symbols. For example, you may type out "and" to replace the "&" symbol to portray a polished, professional look. This can also help minimize potential confusion among readers if they aren't familiar with an abbreviation or symbol you included in the document. When proofreading your writing, be sure to search for symbols and abbreviations and rewrite them before sending out the document.
8. Include seven or fewer lines
If you're drafting an email or another document where the reader is likely to read it on a screen, consider writing paragraphs of seven or fewer lines. Using seven or fewer lines can help the reader read the entire document because it helps break up long text blocks. This strategy can help increase the readability of your document and provide an easier read for individuals.
9. Select professional fonts
Your font selection can determine how the reader views your document, such as if it's easy to read. Additionally, you may find it helpful to use two or three different complementing fonts at least throughout your document. For example, you can use different fonts to differentiate sections like headers and body text. Choosing complementary fonts, such as serif and sans serif, can provide a cohesive, uniform look to the text and increase your professionalism to the reader. Here are some business fonts you may choose for your next piece:
Times New Roman
10. Use gender-neutral titles
It's helpful to include gender-neutral titles to avoid exclusionary language. For example, when referring to a professional's title, you may say they're a chairperson. These word choices can help readers feel included and demonstrate your dedication to the inclusion of others. Additionally, inclusive wording can help a company attract and retain customers because you're ensuring everyone feels welcome by the organization.
11. Include a call to action (CTA)
A CTA is a statement encouraging a reader to take immediate action after reading the document. Including a CTA helps provide relevancy to the reader about why they're reading the piece and how they can use the information when they're finished with it. This statement helps the reader understand their role, and if they complete the action, it helps you determine if you produced an effective writing piece.
How to write in a business environment
Knowing how to write effectively for business can help you succeed in your role. Demonstrating strong writing skills may highlight your intelligence, improve your performance and help others view you as a trustworthy professional. These skills can also help you influence individuals through your writing and create opportunities to achieve career goals.
Here are five steps you can follow to write effectively in a business environment:
1. Identify your purpose
Often, there are four purpose categories for business writing, which include conveying information, providing instructions, persuading or defining a transaction. Before you begin writing, define why you're writing to decide how to approach your subject. Understanding your overall purpose for writing a piece may help you know where to start and the goal you wish to create for the audience when they're finished reading. For example, think about if your document is to inform them about a new company process, which means the reader's goal might be to learn something new and implement the new process into their workflow.
2. Write for your audience
Before creating any business document, define your audience. Consider what your audience already knows about the subject, what they're required to learn and how they may feel about it. It's also essential to know their names, positions, location and other key details because it may help you determine the tone to use when writing. For example, you might feel comfortable taking a more familiar approach when writing to a coworker, while you may reserve more formal writing for a client.
3. Develop an outline
Write a list of the key topics you plan to address in your writing. Ideally, these are the main ideas you cover in the document. If needed, further divide the subheadings into more detailed points. If your piece includes any critical data, this is where you could use it to clarify your main ideas. Creating an outline can also help keep your document on track by ensuring you're discussing relevant points and establishing purpose in each sentence to maintain the reader's interest.
Additionally, outlines can help determine where you might require more research or supporting points to back up your claims before writing.
4. Create a rough draft
Using your outline as a guide, create the first draft by writing each of your points in sufficient detail. Aim for simplicity and clarity in your writing by creating simple sentences and removing business jargon. Be direct by using short words, sentences and paragraphs. Choose common words that most audiences can understand easily. Once you create the first draft, read it over and look for areas that could use further simplification or clarification. Ask a trusted peer to review your writing, which may help you approach the document with a new perspective.
5. Proofread your document
Proofread your document to ensure your spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct. Additionally, double-check the details you've included, such as dates, figures and charts. Verify the names of individuals, places and organizations, including spelling and capitalization. Reviewing your work may help the audience trust and respect you because you've ensured accuracy in your writing, along with proper greetings with accurately spelled names, titles and workplaces.
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