It’s all well and good to know how to write a report, email or other document. But the differentiator between success and failure?
Below are five tips to consider when reviewing your business writing. Add these to your arsenal and you’ll be editing like a pro in no time.
Know your message
Every document you create has a purpose. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what exactly you want readers to take away from your writing and that every part of your document contributes to that message.
To understand how to best communicate your message, you should have an understanding of your audience. Writing in reverse – a technique used by individuals with greater emotional intelligence – allows you to give your reader exactly what they need to hear from you.
Strip your writing back
Read through your document:
- Are there any words that could be cut without the sentence losing meaning?
- Are there any unnecessary buzzwords or bits of jargon?
- Are there any redundancies?
- Are you writing actively where appropriate? (Putting your subject first)
- Are you using unnecessarily gendered or exclusionary language?
- Are you using longer words where a short one will do?
- Are you using vague words rather than precise verbs and language?
- Are there any sentence fragments?
- Are there any run-on sentences?
Make sure the formatting is clear and consistent
The format is what structures your writing and makes sure it is easier to understand.
- Make sure that any headings or subheadings are styled consistently
- Make sure that your information is in the right sections
- For documents read online, keep your paragraphs 7 lines or less
- Make your document easy to scan by including white spaces and lists
Don’t rely on spelling and grammar tools
While these can be helpful for pointing out obvious errors and directing your attention to areas that need work, tools like built-in spellcheckers and Grammarly are not all-knowing. And often, they can be incorrect.
If you have these tools, use them in tandem with your own skills. But never rely on them entirely – you’ll only get better as an editor if you put the work in.
Proofread (and proofread again)
You’ll want to give your document a good proofread before you send it off. More than once, if you have the time.
Science shows that our brains miss mistakes when we’ve read a document a few times. It may be helpful to have a colleague look over your work or to read your text out loud. Often, it’s easier to hear errors than to spot them with our eyes.
Bonus: Boost your emotional intelligence
The best writers are those with greater emotional intelligence, with a greater understanding of their audience, emotions, and what they need to say to elicit their desired outcome. The same goes with editors.
By boosting your EQ, you’ll be able to better understand who you’re writing to, why you’re writing to them, and keep your own emotions in check to maintain objectivity.
Want some more pointers for refining written business communication? Check out our Business Writing Training – we’ve got everything needed to improve business writing and editing.