Business writing skills are needed in almost any facet of owning or operating a business. Whether you're writing marketing copy for a proposed advertising campaign or you're sending a letter of proposal to a possible client, your skills must be sharp as well as professional. Business writing has changed since the cliched style of business letter that was written decades ago, but it does still follow some basic rules. Improve your business writing skills, and you may ultimately improve the success of your business.
Practice your business writing skills frequently. It's the only tried and true way to maintain strong command of the English language. Use good business writing skills even when sending e-mails or casual office memos. Remember that every type of correspondence you send should be composed with a sense of business etiquette and expertise.
Brush up on business writing skills in one of two ways. Take an online course in business writing. A number of schools offer online versions of workshops and classes, and business writing is among them. One online venue called eLearners.com offers a variety of writing programs, including business writing. Check out adult education classes at local schools as well, as they often offer night classes in business writing skills. There are a number of excellent books available on improving your business writing skills. Pick up a copy at your local bookstore or library and use it as a tutorial. Some recommended books include "The McGraw-Hill 36-Hour Course in Business Writing and Communication" by Kenneth W. Davis, "10 Steps to Successful Business Writing" by Jack E. Appleman, "Effective Business Writing" by Maryann Piotrowski, and "The Business Writer's Handbook, Eighth Edition" by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu. All of these books are available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and should be available at your local public library.
Be mindful of the reader when writing a business letter or proposal. Too often the business writer composes what he thinks is necessary to be written, when instead he should be asking what the reader wants to hear. Does he want to read about the history of your business and the fact that it is family owned and operated, or is she likely to prefer reading about solid facts and figures instead?
Never rely solely on spellcheck as a means of catching misspellings. While it does catch most incorrectly spelled words, it won't catch a mistake in the actual wording of your letter.
Don't neglect e-mails when improving your business writing skills. Remember that every time you hit the "send" button on your e-mail program that someone on the other end will be receiving what you've written. E-mails are a common practice within the workplace but are often underestimated representations of the business. Even though business writing via e-mail may not be as lengthy or detailed, it should still be well worth reading, with concise information, including proper contact information of the business. It's way too easy to become conversational rather than businesslike when using an e-mail. Be sure to use a professional tone as well as a professional format. Be certain that anything you write in an e-mail is appropriate for anyone to read. The Internet doesn't offer a lot of guarantees about where your words may wind up! Be extra cautious when copying and even blind copying others using e-mail. One small mistake could put information in the wrong hands....perhaps even many of them.
Brush up frequently on the latest trends in business writing, and keep abreast of tried and true aspects such as good grammar and flawless spelling. Trends include offering links, if available, as backup to your plans, figures, proposals, etc., even in a hard-copy business letter. Live links are expected when sending your business letter digitally. Your business writing skills may be a foot in the door to a great deal or possibly even as a means to climb the corporate ladder and therefore must represent the business in the very best way possible. This doesn't leave room for mistakes, including any less-than-polished writing.
Proofread or have a colleague proofread important business writing. Spell-check doesn't catch everything.
- Proofread or have a colleague proofread important business writing. Spell-check doesn't catch everything.
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, N.H. She has authored five books and hundreds of articles and short stories. Her work has appeared various publications, including "Parenting," "Writer’s Digest," "Vacations" and "Discovery Travel." She studied at the University of Maine and later pursued her writing studies through numerous classes and workshops.