At times business documents can become very wordy and technical. A few scenarios are associated with this style of writing:
- A writer who’s very knowledgeable about a topic forgets the audience may not understand certain industry terminology.
- A writer doesn’t understand the topic and regurgitates words he’s read.
- A writer is eyeing a promotion or attempting to impress the boss with “fancy” writing.
Dr. Salavtore J. Iacone, author of “Write to the Point: How to Communicate in Business with Style and Purpose,” addresses word choice well.
“Word choice,” he writes, “is best determined according to your purpose, relationship with the reader and appropriate tone, and not the number of syllables or impressive sound.”
Remember, keep your writing simple. Familiar, non-technical and specific words are best used in a sentence. You can do away with excessive nouns, verbs, articles, adjectives and overused words and phrases.
Do you ever find yourself thinking out loud? For instance, you might mumble a long-winded sentence about a list of groceries or errands, such as “I have to get the clothes from dry cleaning, and I need to head to the store to pick up some trash bags, and oh, I have to call the plumber and…”
These ideas are typically independent clauses that don’t need to be linked to the next thought with the word “and.” However, sometimes the thinking pattern shows up in our writing.
Short, simple sentences allow a key detail or an idea to shine, but using only short sentences can make the document dry reading. That’s why sometimes it’s good to vary the sentences with short and long sentences.
Dr. Iacone advises sentences have no more than 25 words. Go above 25 words, and this can lead to a number of problems, such as delaying the message. Good word choices, well-stated ideas and variable sentence lengths are combined throughout a document make for an interesting flow of ideas and keeps your audience interested.
The structure of a document is defined by the use of paragraphs. Paragraphs develop the topic of the document. They expand and develop the ideas. The first impression is made in the introductory paragraph and is followed by paragraphs that address the main points. Each of these paragraphs start with a topic sentence followed by sentences that elaborate on pertinent details regarding the point you are trying to make.
The traditional patterns for the organization of ideas include time-order, spatial order, cause and effect, and comparison and contrast.
Have you ever experienced a moment when you said something, but because of the way you said it, it left the wrong impression? Consider this, sometimes it’s not the content, but how the content is said that resonates with readers. At work clients can get lost if they sense a negative emotion, such as arrogance or indifference, in written correspondence. Tone is very important because it establishes the relationship and the interaction between the writer and the reader. Tone may be formal or informal; for instance, it may be warm or authoritative. However, how the tone is expressed, how it’s heard gives the writing a personality, a voice that can make the writing unique.
Always, establish an appropriate style at your place of work.
Photo Credit: Suat Eman