Whether you’re writing a memo, an e-mail, a letter, a plan, or a report, every piece of business writing must be clear, concise, and mistake-free, as it can’t afford to create any confusion among the targeted readers. One small mistake may result in thousands of dollars in loss of profit.
In this article, we’ll identify the top 13 business writing problems and their solutions.
Typos turn readers off immediately. While Microsoft Word comes with a decent spellchecking capability, it’s better to use a more comprehensive editing app. One option is ProWritingAid, which comes with extensive spellchecking, grammar checking, and plagiarism checking, in addition to 22 other types of writing and editing reports.
2. Grammatical and punctuation errors
No one wants to write with grammatical and punctuation errors. To solve this problem, an editing software would be a good investment. You can get your work edited while also learn along the way.
3. Too many jargons
While it’s always tempting to write with many business and technical jargons, most likely the readers aren’t too pleased. A piece of business writing isn’t a place to show off, but an instrument to get things done. Thus, refrain from using complex and vague jargons, like “synergy” and “high performance.” Describe what you meant by them in easy-to-understand words or sentences.
4. Too many abstract words
When you want to describe something as “excellent,” be clear about it. What’s so good about the incident? Describe the details. Refrain from using too many abstract or superlative words without explaining them with measurable information.
5. Long words
Use short words if the synonyms are available. It’s always better to write understandable letters or reports than vague and hard-to-understand ones. Long words may cause more confusion than shorter ones.
6. Long and complex sentences
Divide a long, complex sentence into 2 short, simple sentences for better readability. Remember that most readers read at Grade 8 level. You can check your work’s reading level with Hemingway App or Readable.io.
7. Too much text
Don’t cram too much text in a page. While single spacing is acceptable, give a one-inch margin throughout. The more white spaces in a page, the more likely the psychological effect would be, according to a study.
8. Abbreviations and acronyms
Whenever you use abbreviations and acronyms, include what they stand for in brackets. This way, readers who aren’t familiar with them can learn what they mean. Overall, refrain from sprinkling too many abbreviations and acronyms in a text.
9. Making vague claims
You can praise someone, but be clear on their achievement. It’s easy to make vague claims, but hard to prove them. Whenever possible, use measurable information, so whatever you’re referring to will be understood better.
10. Wrong level of details
Depending on the recipient of the memo or report, the level of details would vary. You’d need to find out who will be reading the piece, so you can appropriately cater to the level of details.
11. Inappropriate tone
A piece of business writing is usually formal. However, occasionally, some pieces require a particular tone. Does this report need to sound more technical because the readers are engineers? How about this flyer? Who will be reading it? Adjust your writing tone based on the readers.
12. Using the writer’s point of view
You write for the readers, not for yourself. Therefore, you’d need to use their point of view, not yours. In business and marketing collaterals, “persona” refers to semi-fictionalized character based on an actual customer. This being said, always remember the persona of the piece you’re writing.
13. Brain dumping
Never just dump whatever it’s in your mind onto the keyboard. Brain dumping is a big no-no in business. Just because you’re thinking in so many directions, it doesn’t mean you should type them down and have people read. A business writing is focused, formal, and concise.
In conclusion, business writing may sound challenging. However, as soon as you’ve recognized the common problems, there are proven solutions ready to be applied. Remember always to keep things simple, short, and sweet. The goal of your writing is getting things done, not to impress anyone with your language skills.
About the Author
Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is also a digital strategist for several e-commerce and app companies. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Business.com, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, Positively Positive, and others. Her blog is JenniferXue.com.