Ten Tips to Simplify Your Business Correspondence

You write to express, not to use every word in the dictionary. Here are ten tips for using those words to make your writing clearer.

By Linda Elizabeth Alexander

1. Simplify language
Avoid using big or vague words. Use fewer words, but make them count.

2.Shorten sentences
Business people don't have time to read 10-page letters. Cut out run-on sentences. Eliminate extra words as long as it doesn't change the meaning. You can also combine a short and a longer sentence into one to remove extra words.

3. Use active voice
Instead of, "A good time was had by all," say, "We had a good time." This changes the subject from "good time" to "we." It also puts emphasis on the verb, making the statement stronger.

4. Use present tense
Stick to the present tense wherever you can. Also make sure you don't switch tenses in the middle of a sentence.

5. Use bullets where appropriate
Since people have little time to read, put important points in a numbered or bulleted list. This makes it easier to scan so your readers get the meaning without reading every word.

6. Never use exclamation points in business writing!
Unless you're writing an advertisement or an excited letter to a friend, skip the wow factor! It doesn't belong in a memo, report, letter, or other serious-toned business writing!

7. Eliminate jargon
Avoid it at all costs if your audience will not understand it. It will be like a foreign language to them, and your point is to make your writing clearer - not more complicated.

8. Avoid fragments and one word sentences
A fragment. Is an incomplete sentence. No subject or no verb. Really.

A complete sentence has both a subject and a verb and contains at least two words. "She walked" is a sentence because it meets all three criteria.

9. Proofread your writing
You know to use your spelling and grammar checkers. But you should also go over your writing yourself -- the spell checker cannot distinguish between "to" and "too" or "their" and "there." It can't tell you if you said "and" where you meant "an." If possible, get somebody else to read it before handing it in. Two sets of eyeballs are better than none.

10. Avoid repetition and redundancy!

Use these tips every time you write and you will avoid ten common mistakes that cloud your writing.

Linda Elizabeth Alexander is a business writer and marketing consultant specializing in web and sales copy. Contact her today to get your free consultation! http://www.write2thepointcom.com

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