Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

Writing For Business – Keep It Short And Simple

The typical executive today spends approximately 20-25 per cent of their time writing. Yet, writing is one of the last skills that people seem to want to work on. With the amount of email that you probably send out each day, it is vital that you know how to write intelligently. Here are a few key points to consider when writing for business:

Use short, concise sentences. Definitely avoid circumlocution: the use of more words than necessary to express an idea. Business writing has a definitive purpose and that purpose is not to write a creative prose, but to relay a clear message, information or instructions.

Be clear. There is little that is more annoying than having to keep re-reading an email, searching for meaning. Too often business people use big words, hoping to some like an intelligent expert. Instead, they sound like they are trying too hard. Use short, precise words to get your message across.

Re-read, proofread, edit your own work. No matter what you want to call it, this is a key part to successful writing for business. Mistakes, typos and misunderstandings can easily be prevented, if the writer takes a bit of time to go over what they have typed. Besides, the hardest part (writing) is already done.

Cut the Jargon. In writing, you can never tell what terminologies your reader knows. The jargon your department uses might not make sense to your reader. And if that is the case, then you wont make sense. Not exactly the impression that you want to make.

Dispose of filler words. Say what you need and leave it at that. It especially seems that people are nervous about ending a message, they feel the need to fill that space with useless words. Don’t. Instead develop a quick sign off for yourself that you will feel confident using. Which brings me to my last point…

Calm down and smarten up. Too often, today’s text language pops up in business writing. Do not use inappropriate exclamation marks, smiley faces, emoticons, slang, unofficial abbreviations, intentionally misspelled words or cutesy sign offs. These have no place in business writing and can do real damage your image as a professional.

Be simple, clear, precise and professional – Be a better business writer.

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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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