Writing Effective Business Documents

Writing Effective Business Documents

In order to be able to write concise, to-the-point business documents, whether they are reports, memos, proposals, evaluations, emails, or any other type of written material, you must first devote a great deal of energy into thinking and planning. In order to compose a tightly written prose piece that clearly communicates your perspective on a particular issue, you must determine what you want to say and how best to say it. That seems obvious, but, oftentimes, business documents are unclear or, halfway through, they lose their focus.

Writing an outline is often a helpful way of beginning the writing process. Once you actually start to write the document, you may, of course, vary from your outline, but you should not stray far from your original theme. If, for example, the point of the document that you are writing is to explain new office protocols, do not move into the area of the current global economic situation. That may relate to your thesis, and so, it may be addressed, but you should not lose focus. Complete the document on which you are working, and then you may return to the other topic in a subsequent business essay.

The next, critically important step, once the essay has been written, is to edit it for clarity and precision. Business editing is both a skill and an art. It involves both macro and micro approaches. First, the essay must be read in order to evaluate the point of view and the thesis. That is the macro approach.

Then, the document must be microscopically inspected. The text must be read word-for-word. This is when errors in spelling, English usage, punctuation, and vocabulary should be spotted and corrected. If needed, whole sentences and, if necessary, entire paragraphs should be edited and/or rewritten so that they smoothly and logically flow from preceding ones. Transitional sentences, if needed, should be inserted.

At some point during the proofreading and editing process, you should spell check your work. That will not catch every error, but it will allow you to spot many of them.

The final step in terms of reviewing a business document is to read it as if you are the intended audience, and not the writer. Does the document communicate its message? Will it be clear to those for whom it is intended? You may want to ask a colleague to read it. Assure him or her that you do want an honest opinion of the document, and not simply an “It’s fine” response.

Business writing should be 100% clear and to-the-point. It should not rely on metaphors, poetic license, or figures of speech. The purpose of a business document is to clearly communicate a message. It may be entertaining, but that is beside the point. If the document is not easily comprehensible, its message may never be communicated.