8 Basic Questions Business Writers Need To Ask


Whether we are writing an email, a letter, or a report, we need to write well. If we are writing for business, we want to get our message across in a user-friendly style. We need to communicate. To be a successful, we need to write accurately, concisely, and professionally.

Here are eight simple questions we should ask before we send the communication:

  1. Is My Information Accurate? Double check that any statistics and information you have included are accurate.
  2. Have I Cited My Sources? Remember that you need to credit your sources. If you have included a quotation or referred to an article, please cite it.
  3. Have I Been Clear? Check that you have conveyed your idea clearly. Ask somebody to read it and let them tell you in their own words what they think you are saying. Their response may surprise you. If it is not clear, rewrite it. Remember to avoid using the passive voice.
  4. Have I Been Concise? Remember that writing for modern readers means that you should check your readability statistics. Have you used short words and simple sentence structures? You need to write as simply as possible in the shortest space. Research shows people respond to shorter emails written with a Grade 3 level on your readability statistics.
  5. Have I Checked My Grammar And Spelling? Print it out and read it. You will find many errors jump out on the printed page. Use your spellchecker or an online resource. Make sure that you follow the accepted rules of grammar and spelling.
  6. Have I Followed My Style Guide? If your company has a style guide, use it. [If not, you can choose one here: What Is A Style Guide And Why Do I Need One?] Remember to choose a style guide that suits the country you are writing in. For example, do you use British or American English?
  7. Have I Chosen The Correct Words? Have you written in the correct tone? Your choice of words reflects on your business. If you want to be friendly or formal, use words that reflect this.
  8. Have I Achieved My Goal? In business, we write to inform or to persuade or to describe or to tell a story. Is your writing correct for what you want to achieve. [Please read this post for tips: 4 Writing Styles Everybody Needs To Know]

If we make mistakes in these areas, our clients will lose confidence in us. We may lose sales or fail to communicate our message.

Use these questions as a checklist before you hit send.

If you want to  improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.

 by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this post read:

  1. 24 Words Or Phrases You Need To Avoid In Your Business Writing
  2. Why The Elevator Pitch Will Always Be Effective In Business Writing
  3. Why You Need The Inverted Pyramid When You Write

This article has 2 comments

  1. nicholas

    Point 4 blew me away. “Write at 3rd grade level” The norm used to be [assumed obviously in the light of this] that one should focus language competence to eleventh grade.

    Now this person is arguing [convincingly] for 3rd Grade. Some months ago there was a brief scurrying outcry over the discovery that at 4th grade the majority learner is illiterate at assumed competence level. So it apparently doesn’t get better?

    Perhaps this is why so few emails ever get a reply.

  2. DLKirkwood

    These can easily be converted for Fiction writing principles:

    1. Are my characters interesting, and different?
    2. Is my story believable?
    3. Am I being clear on what is happening?
    4. Does my writing keep the story moving along?
    5. Have I checked my spelling and grammar after each
    session?
    6. Have I checked for overuse of words or ideas?
    7. Have I chosen unique prose over cliches?
    8. Have I written a story/book that keeps the readers’ interest
    throughout?

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