Below are TIPS ON BUSINESS WRITING I use with those I work with. These tips are from a variety of sources accumulated over a lifetime and work well to produce business writing that is easy to read and hard to misunderstand. Let me know if you'd like to discuss to any extent. They are available as a post at this link: http://www.intelliven.com/tips-on-business-writing/.
- Use the present tense.
- Avoid words that end in: ing and in ly (e.g., really) or even in y (e.g., very).
- Avoid words that have a z in them (e.g., utilize).
- Do not use contractions.
- Make points in the positive (i.e., don’t be negative).
- Avoid words that hedge or evade such as “it is my understanding” or “possibly,” or “perhaps,” or “could.”
- Be assertive. I.e., Say, “I need your reaction to the new product recommendations” instead of saying, “I want to meet with you to come up with a recommendation for the new product.”
- Use simple, direct sentence structure (subject – object – verb).
- Avoid personal pronouns (i.e., he, she).
- Refer to the reader and to others more than to yourself (calculate the I-to-You ratio by counting and comparing such references)
- Keep lists to no more than 7 plus or minus 2 (think of a 7-digit phone number as the standard).
- Bullets should be about 7 words or less long.
- Paragraphs should be no more than 5 lines long…because most readers only read the beginning and end of things (papers, paragraphs, sentences, etc) and not the meat in the middle.
- Spend the most time on the first paragraph and then the last and then the beginning and end of every other paragraph, first with the second and then the second to last, iterating top and bottom (3rd, 4th, etc.) until you meet in the middle.
- Be careful about using the word “this” because most of the time it refers to something clear to the writer but not to the reader…consider replacing it with specifically to what you mean to refer.
- Use flush left and ragged right margins in your writing layout.
- Eliminate jargon and buzzwords.
Is this answer helpful? Schedule a free consultation with Peter.
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