Improve Your Business Writing With These 10 Hacks
Good business writing lies in the very building blocks of your text. If you have good grammar and editing skills, then you'll go far. Need some help getting the most out of your writing? Then check out these ten hacks to get you started.
Watch out for weak words
Weak words are those that are too vague or overused to mean anything. They can include 'big', 'small', 'very', 'really', and 'good'. Go through your writing and weed them out. When you leave them in your writing, they can make you look as though you can't articulate ideas properly, or that you're trying to pad out your writing. Better business writing is concise and uses stronger words to get the point across.
Avoid the passive voice
The passive voice isn't as enticing and exciting as the active voice, so it needs to go. For example, instead of writing 'Andy was a terrible leader, shown by the fact he wouldn't listen', write 'A terrible leader. Andy wouldn't listen to his team.'
In the first example, the reader is kept at arm's length from what is happening. In the second, they're put right into the action. It helps your reader connect to what you're saying, something that's vital if you're writing to a customer or client.
Keep the length short
Length is a tricky subject. You want to go into detail, but you don't want to overstay your welcome. Read your piece. Are you going over the same points again and again? Cut them out.
Also, watch that you're not just waffling to fill space. Everything in your text needs to be important and useful to the reader. Filling the text with fluff won't accomplish that. Business writing is better when you send a short email, rather than a long and rambling one.
Avoid sentence fragments
A sentence fragment doesn't express a whole thought, and should be avoided. For example, instead of writing 'The latest sales figures', write 'Here are the latest sales figures.' When you use sentence fragments, you're not expressing yourself properly.
A reader may take that to mean that you don't care what you have to say to them. Avoid misunderstandings like these by writing out the complete sentence. It's easier to read and gets your point across without any need for decoding from the reader.
Split up run on sentences
A run on sentence is two or more sentences joined together. They're difficult to follow, and so should be split up. So, if you have a sentence like 'We sold 1000 units we need to stock more', turn it into the following: 'We sold 100 units. We need to stock more.'
If you're not sure if the sentence is a run on sentence, read it out loud. If you have to pause for breath in the middle, or it doesn't make sense to you, it needs to be split up into separate sentences.
Correct your tenses and grammar
All tenses in a sentence should match up, so they refer to the right time. For example, 'She gives most of the stock to my store, but kept the good stock for herself', should be changed to 'She gives my store most of the stock, but keeps the good stock for herself. Improve your grammar skills with online resources like PaperFellows and Academized.
A good rule of thumb is that the first tense in the sentence should be the one that's used the whole way through. That's why, in the above example, 'kept' was changed to 'keeps'. Also, be aware that tenses shouldn't change the whole way through your text. If they do, it's confusing at best. The reader won't know when you're referring to. It's a small change, but it's rather incredible how much of a difference it makes.
Give it time
Don't proofread straight away. Give it some time before you come back to it. A whole day is best if you can. This is because you've become close to the piece as you've written it. Leaving it for a while puts some distance between you and the writing, so you can look at it with an objective eye.
You can't always leave it for a whole day, true, especially when you have deadlines looming on the horizon. When this is the case, at least a couple of hours can make all the difference.
Read it aloud
Reading your work aloud helps you spot errors you missed in the read through. This may make you feel a bit foolish, but there's no better way to see your work from the perspective of the reader. You'll be amazed how many issues you've missed, just reading it over in your head. If you want to do it properly, find yourself a quiet spot and read over the whole piece, from beginning to end.
If you can, have a trusted colleague look over your writing for errors that you've missed. Or use online proofreading services like Assignment Writing Service and Write My Paper. A second opinion is always worth having. As you wrote the text, it's easy for you to glide over mistakes as you knew what you meant when you wrote them. A second person will spot them right away and point them out for you.
Print it out
You may never publish in printed form, but print your text out to proofread. Reading in another format helps you look at the piece differently. It's the change in format that does it, much like having to read the work aloud. It can make spelling mistakes and grammatical errors stand out, so you can see them. Printing the work out means that you can write and make notes on it too. That way, when you go back to edit it, you have comprehensive ideas on what you need to do to make it work.
These hacks and tools will help you boost your business writing up to the next level. Try them for yourself, and see just how much your writing will improve. It really is the small changes you make that make all the difference.