The growing ubiquity of business letters and e-mail means that everyone in business, need to write intelligently. By using simple, clear, precise language–and following a few other basic writing rules–you can become a better communicator and improve the prospects for your career.
“Clarity is the most important characteristic of good business writing
Start by using short, declarative sentences. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Be ruthless about self-editing; if you don’t need a word, cut it.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or any kind of jargon if you can think of an English equivalent.
When you’re composing an e-mail, say what you need to say, and move on. If your big idea isn’t in the first paragraph, move it there. If you can’t find it, rewrite.
“Start by asking yourself what you want the person to do as a result of this e-mail. Just asking yourself that question can make your communication much clearer.”
Use plain English, and be specific. Instead of mentioning “the current situation,” explain exactly what it is.
Curb your enthusiasm. Avoid overusing exclamation points, regardless of how energized or friendly you might feel. Choose professional sign-offs like “Best” and “Regards” over the too-cute “xoxo.”
Whenever possible, use active verbs instead of passive verbs. Active verbs help to energize your prose. Instead of writing “The meeting was led by Tom,” write: “Tom led the meeting
Choose pronouns wisely, and don’t be afraid to use “me.”
Beware of common grammatical mistakes, like subject-verb agreement. The number of the subject (whether it’s singular or plural) determines the number of the verb. Use a singular verb form after nobody, someone, everybody, neither, everyone, each and either.
Know when to use “that” and “which.” “That” introduces essential information in what’s called a “restrictive clause.” “Which” introduces extra information in a “nonrestrictive clause.”
Another common error is confusing “affect” and “effect.” Affect is a verb meaning “to influence.” “Effect” is a noun that means “result.”