Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

Words Have Power – Use Them Wisely

Do you think you’ll impress readers by using big words?
Do you use phrases like Please be informed? Kindly find attached?
When you put your fingers on the keyboard, do you think, “What should I write?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be making your business writing much more difficult than it should be. And more importantly, you’re making reading much more difficult for your reader.

The Key Is Plain English

Today’s busy readers want to read messages that are simple and clear. They want to understand messages quickly, and know exactly how to reply.

Plain English means easy to read, and easy to understand. It means using short, clear sentences. It means using everyday words, and no redundancies or jargon.

Tips for Writing In Plain English

  1. Get straight to the point. Delete any redundant phrases, like Please be informed, Kindly be advised, I am writing to inform you.
  2. Use everyday words. Instead of disseminate, write share or distribute. Instead of concur, write agree. Instead of kindly, write please.
  3. Focus on active verbs. Replace long phrases with a simple active verb. Instead of come to a conclusion, write conclude. Instead of make an improvement, write improve.
  4. Avoid jargon and buzzwords. Examples are think out of the box, moving forward, deep dive. Keep your sentences crisp and clear.
  5. Remove redundancies. There are so many words we don’t need, like in these phrases: 3am in the morning, advance notice, basic fundamentals, in accordance with. Using unnecessary or redundant words just makes your writing weaker.
  6. Use lists. Bullets and numbers will help you simplify your message and make the information scannable so it’s easier for your reader. It’s win-win!
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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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