How to Write Business Documents
At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
- Write business documents with clarity and brevity.
- Write business documents with a natural, conversational, yet professional tone.
A number of writers believe they need to compose many sentences in order to attain clarity, and as a result, they miss out on brevity. Sadly, some never get to pass their supposedly coherent message across because they get too wordy for their readers` patience. Whatever happened to K.I.S.S? You remember?
Keep It Simple and Short!
These days, there are a lot of things contending for readers` attention. Believe me, not many readers are willing to spend much time reading documents. So why say in ten sentences what you can in three? Let`s begin with writing clearly, then we will discuss how to write briefly.
How to Write Clearly
To write easy-to-read business documents without vagueness and ambiguity, be ready to use simple language and completely eliminate bizspeak. Some business writers feel the need to switch their sentences around to sound formal — it`s totally unnecessary. Take for instance,
It is important that we meet at your earliest convenience to discuss this problem. I would be glad if you can provide me with your availability.
That`s unnecessarily complex, and that`s not what business writing is about. So, no, you don`t have to sound that way to be formal. You could just write,
I wouldn`t know how soon you can be available, so we discuss this challenge.
You`ve passed the same message in the latter, and with clarity.
Dealing with Bizspeak
So what`s bizspeak? It comprises the common words and phrases that writers use in business documents. Some of them are:
- at your earliest convenience
- in light of the fact that
- we are in receipt of
- as per our telephone conversation on today`s date
Instead of these, you could write,
- as soon as you can
- we`ve received
- as we discussed today
Bizspeak makes you sound too formal, hence makes your documents uneasy to read. What`s more? It makes it difficult for you to achieve brevity. One thing to note is, fewer words capture more attention.
There`s no need trying to impress your readers with many words. What such writers do, actually, is distract their readers, and get them not to ever read the entire document. So how can you achieve brevity in writing?
Brevity in Writing
Get Right to the point!
After showing some courtesy briefly, go straight to what you have to say. Your readers should be able to get your message after a short and easy read. Communicate as clearly, completely, and briefly as you can!
Use Active Voice
The active voice is stronger, shorter, and more straightforward. So instead of saying,
It was brought to my notice that the documents have not been signed,
I realised that the documents have not been signed.
Do you notice the difference in the word count? While the former has 13 words, the latter has just 9.
Of course, there are times when you should use the passive voice. For example, it is polite to avoid sounding accusatory in your letters, and the passive voice helps you achieve this. Take a look at this:
The secretary did not process the paperwork properly.
Now, check this:
Some errors were made in the processing of the paperwork.
The latter sounds less accusatory, doesn`t it? That`s the idea!
Now that you Know…
It`s time to practise! Implement all of these in your writing, and see how better you`ll sound. It`s okay if you feel the need to have a tutor who will read through your works and help you improve on these areas and many others. Feel free to reach out to us, and we`d be super glad to assign an online tutor to you.
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