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:
- Is My Information Accurate? Double check that any statistics and information you have included are accurate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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