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A Guide to Writing Better Business Documents

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❶Make sure that your draft can be seen by everyone and easily edited.

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Before email became prevalent, memorandums were used for intraoffice messages. Memos are still used in situations where a message is meant to accompany a specific file and in cases that require more privacy than an email.

Both a memo and an email identify the sender and recipient and contain a subject line. The text is formatted in one or more paragraphs. Business letters are used to communicate with individuals outside of the office. Recipients may include customers, colleagues in other businesses, service providers, professionals who advise the business, government officials and job applicants. A business letter is usually formatted in block style, in which all of the elements of the letter, except the letterhead, are aligned with the left margin.

It can be emailed or delivered by mail. If a letter is sent in the text of an email, the sender includes his name, job title and contact information at the bottom of the email. Business reports convey information in a format that is more formal and usually longer than a letter.

Reports cover a variety of topics, such as safety compliance, sales figures, financial data, feasibility studies and marketing plans. They may include statistics, charts, graphs, images, case studies and survey results. Some reports are published for the benefit of investors. Hence, there is a need to prevent grammatical errors and inappropriate writing in business communication. There should be less jargon—unless it is a technical document—and more specific words and brief yet strong phrases.

Be as definite and as clear as possible. Headings and bullets — Headings are used to underscore the main points, form white space, and make it easy for readers to scan the document.

Bullets, on the other hand, are often for series of items. Tables — These are used when subjects or options are being compared or contrasted to one another. These tools will avoid the repetition of the company names and categories throughout the text.

There would be less words because the data no longer needs extensive explanation. Maps, flowcharts, and diagrams — These are for more complex data or connections of data that text alone can no longer detail substantially.

These also aid in presentations, saving more time and other resources. Bold face and italics — To emphasize specific points to readers , you can put the words in boldface or in italics.

The Miami University gives pointers for acknowledging sources in business documents, especially those that present proposals:. This will also give the impression that you have a solid grasp of the evidence for your proposals. This will make your document more reliable and convincing.

Ideas in your business should flow in a logical manner to keep the whole discussion smooth and all thoughts cohesive. The Purdue University has guide questions for reviewing professional papers.

Barbie Carpenter of Demand Media, a digital marketing agency, in an article , shares the four types of business communication:. This type of correspondence encourages people, especially those in the office, to take actions or follow specific instructions. An example of this is a memo with the weekly goals of a team.

It is expected to be motivational to produce solid results. Some documents are eyeing a goal, but some are simply to inform the audience.

For example, an email can be about a change in a policy, a help manual for a particular program or facility, or changes in the organizational structure. These papers are expected to be clear to avoid misinterpretation.

There are inevitable events in the workplace that may not be pleasing to everyone. Writing about them requires careful planning. In this type of communication, the writer should use a firm but empathetic tone and write succinctly to provide essential information in a direct manner. This refers to proposals or applications for a government grant, funding, or partnership.

Lines should be convincing and positive to make an impression and hook the recipient to consider or act on the plan. Top Principles and Techniques. Reading on her Blackberry this was in about , she immediately leapt into action on the small bit of bad news.

In particular, remember that the executive summary is not the table of contents or a missive about the purpose of the document. The key takeaways are:.

Remembering the demands on the time of everyone you work with in every organisation, the more you can do to make it easier to read your documents, the more successful you will be. This applies not only to the overall structure of the document as outlined above, but also to the formatting within sections.

Bullet points, subheads, bold text, diagrams. These are all your friends. When you come to build the presentation of your work especially, stories help make your points memorable and help win people over. A quick reminder list:. Save to a PDF if necessary.


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When writing an effective business document, know the purpose and scope of your business document.

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One of our core values at Distilled is that it’s not our job to deliver reports, it’s our job to effect change. However, in order to effect change, it clearly sometimes is our job to deliver reports, and we want to get as good at them as we possibly can and make sure we are as effective with them as possible. To that end, I thought I’d collect a few links I’ve seen .

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You are here: Home / Style Guide / Effective Business Writing: Top Principles and Techniques. Elements to Consider Before Writing A Business Document. 1) The Purpose. This will serve as the direction, the reference, and the path of your details. This will set the tone, the style, and structure of your letter. Writing business documents is a topic we get a lot of enquiries about, so I hope you will find this useful. Nearly every job requires you to write, even if it is just email.

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