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