Improve Your Business Writing – Part One
As a writer I find the topic of grammar and punctuation funny. I originate from England, so some of the stuff I learned growing up is either incorrect here in North America, or as time has gone by accepted practice has changed. For instance, when I was taught to write were always told to put two spaces between sentences and we tended to use a whole lot more commas than is common today. Although there is without doubt correct and incorrect grammar, there is also a great deal of latitude depending on the style of writing being undertaken. A few years ago I helped my son edit his Masters thesis and it appears in the world of academia use of semi-colons is infrequent and to this writer somewhat odd. To me, this made some of the long lists of technical information he had in his document very confusing. In terms of business writing simple is often better.
It is certainly easy to get into an argument with other writers, teachers, professors of English and other pedants of the English language. So I thought in this post I’d have some fun with ten business writing tips.
- Avoid alliteration. Always.
- Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
- Employ the vernacular.
- Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
- Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
- Remember to never split an infinitive.
- Contractions aren’t necessary.
- Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
- One should never generalize.
- Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
What I find somewhat ironic is that these tips come from the U.S. government (visit: www.plainlanguage.gov) – let’s face it, usually governments are often the biggest culprits when it comes to using confusing language. Watch for future posts with more business writing tips.