By Sheila Battin, Reference and Information Literacy Librarian at Benedictine College Library
At one time or another, all of us have had to do some form of business writing or will have to it be it an email, a memo, or the more formal business letter. In an information-driven world it is imperative to communicate effectively and with authority. By authority, I mean confidence. Your writing not only is a representation of how you communicate but also how you think. Writing well is essential and for that reason alone I have listed in what my estimation are some key business tools to help you succeed and become that business writer who writes with authority and precision.
Tip One: Always keep it simple: Whenever and wherever possible please use short words instead of long ones. The reader will appreciate this. As a writer, if business writing is part of your regular routine using shorter words will just make life easier and create less confusion in the long run.
Tip Two: Avoid Jargon: Jargon is not necessarily a bad thing but using it in business writing should be avoided at all costs. Jargon is language that is used and understood by people in a specific field. For instance, using terms such as ILL and reference is specific to the library profession. Know your audience and while jargon may be helpful to the experts in that field most likely it will not be helpful to the masses and is best to avoid it.
Tip Three: Avoid Overstated Enthusiasm: While enthusiasm is always appreciated, overdoing it in your email or letter correspondence with exclamations for example will lessen the impact.
Tip Four: Affect vs. Effect: It is easy to mix these terms up and know when to use which word when. Affect is a verb and it means authority. Effect is a noun and means consequence.
Tip Five: Revision: Rarely is the first draft the final copy. If it is, congratulations! If you have to more than one draft, no worries. Be brutal about self-editing. Always, always, always take a second and even a third and fourth look at your document or have someone else take a glance before sending it out. Typos and errors look unprofessional.
Following these key tips will you make you a more informed and better communicator. Wishing you much success in all your business writing endeavors.