Welcome to our free Business Writing tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Business Writing Training course.
Writing business documents requires planning and preparation. It also takes writing skill to produce a professional-looking, well-developed, and well-informed logical document.
In today's information-driven business world, communication is the basis of a smoothly run organization, regardless of the size. The majority of that communication is written.
When planning a business writing project, consider the three major functions of business writing:
In the following discussion, we will:
Informational business documents are created to convey all the information needed to complete the operations of a business. Some examples of these documents are:
The main focus of an informational document is to ensure understanding by the audience through the use of clear, concise, logically presented content.
When composing the document, take into account the attitudes of the audience as well as their expected actions as a result of reading the document. Documents created to influence the audience include:
Finally, it is important to retain the readers' goodwill. This is done through exhibiting knowledge of the English language and understanding human nature. The purpose of the document is to persuade or influence the readers without offending them.
When asking for a payment, for example, using proper grammar and sentence structure, along with appropriate, professional writing, will go a long way toward keeping that customer and creating the goodwill that is necessary for success.
Before putting pen to paper, the writer must decide the following:
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions about the three functions of business writing.
There are five qualities of business writing that need to be considered as you are thinking about the subject of the document:
These five qualities are also referred to as the Five Cs of business writing. Let's look at each one individually.
When composing a business document, make every effort possible to ensure that the document is correct in all aspects. Proper English grammar, spelling, and punctuation create a positive impression for the reader.
Correctness also refers to the facts and figures that are in the document. Carefully review the document before submitting it to ensure the details are accurate and there is no room for misinterpretation.
In order to achieve clarity in your business documents, you need to do the following:
Be sure to include all the information necessary in the document for the reader to act upon it.
For example, if you send an email or memo that states simply "The meeting will be on Tuesday at 3:00PM," the reader cannot act without creating a return document asking where the meeting is and why it being held.
The proper message should be: "The meeting about the new policies on tardiness will be held in the conference room on Tuesday at 3:00PM." With this message, all the needed information is included. Do not waste your reader's time with incomplete information.
When writing a business document, every word counts. Nobody likes to wade through paragraphs of text trying to find the information you are trying to impart. Some guidelines to achieve conciseness in a business document are:
A friendly and sincere tone will convey courteousness in your business communications. Your readers will respond more positively to a professionally written message that is friendly than to one that seems to be curt or overly formal. Even if you cannot provide an answer to an inquiry right away, it is appropriate and professional to respond with a brief note explaining that you have the request and are working on it. This will let your reader know you received the request and will get back to him or her later.
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions:
There are three reasons why it is important to know your audience when composing a business document. While you are planning your document, think about who your primary audience is and how they will react to your document.
Knowing your audience will:
The audience is anyone who will read the document. The primary audience is the actual person or group of people you are writing the document for. The secondary audience is anyone else who might read the document or will be affected by the contents of the document.
When you are creating the document you will keep the primary audience in mind, meeting their needs and expectations, while remembering the secondary audience, but not focusing on their needs and expectations.
Knowing as much as possible about the audience, including how they feel about the topic being presented in your document, will give you a good basis for the style of the writing and the presentation of the information.
Anticipate the questions your reader will ask and be sure to answer them within the document. The language you use in the writing will be dependent on who the audience is and what they know about the information being discussed. If they are unfamiliar with the topic, you will use more descriptive and explanatory language and fewer (if any) acronyms. Jargon specific to the topic will also not be a big part of the writing.
On the other hand, if the audience is very familiar with the topic, it is fine to use jargon and acronyms appropriate to the discussion as they will be understood by the reader.
If you know your audience is very busy, has only time to scan the information before making a decision, and will not spend a great deal of time laboring over the details, you would use a format that is short, easy to read, and contains only highlights or points of interest. Bullet points will work well for this kind of audience.
If your reader is someone who will have a lot of questions, or does not know a lot about the topic, you will need to include much more detailed information in the document. The length of the document depends on the content and how much information you need to include as well as what information the reader already has about the content. If you are introducing a completely new topic, you will want to include as much detail as necessary to get the desired message across to your reader.
The important thing to remember when trying to determine how much information is to be included is to address the readers at the level of their existing knowledge.
How well do you know your reader? Is the reader someone you work with on a daily basis who is very familiar with you and your work? In that case, the document can be less formal than it would be if you don't know your reader.
The audience as well as the content will both play a role in the formality of the document. A memo or email will be less formal than a proposal for a new project, but both kinds of communication need to be written professionally and accurately.
In this exercise, you will respond to the following questions about knowing the audience.