5 Quick Business Writing Fixes to Keep it Simple

by Cathy Miller on March 5, 2012

 

One good thing about online writing is the emphasis on simple.

  • Simple sentences
  • Simple layout
  • Simple reading

Here are five quick fixes to keep all your business writing simple.

Fix #1 – Edit for a single message.

Start by writing down the single most important message you want your readers to hear.

For example –

  • Message for this post – Keep your business writing simple
  • Message for a sales ad – The best widget on the market

Use that message for building your business communication. It’s your litmus test for editing.

  • If you have multiple messages, cut back to one
  • Consider separate communication for additional messages

Use a single, simple message for all business writing.

Fix #2 – Repair the holes in your story.

Tell a story is a recommended technique.

Poor storytelling produces poor business writing – look for the holes in your story.

  • Does the beginning grab your reader?
  • Does the middle engage readers to keep reading?
  • Does the end leave the reader wanting more?

Fix the holes in your story for better business writing.

Fix #3 – Flesch out the simple word.

Imagine you are helping your child develop language skills. You don’t use “baby talk,” but you do use simple language.

Use simple language in your business communication.

While not perfect, the Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level tools provide a snapshot for readability. The tests base scores on the number of words, syllables, and sentences.

  • The higher the score of the Flesch Reading Ease, the easier your writing is to read
  • The Flesch-Kincaid Grade level is based on U.S. grade levels so lower grades mean easier reading
  • Most word processing software (like Microsoft Word) include these tools

 

 

Replace more complex words with a simpler form.

Here are a few examples.

  • Start vs. commence
  • Give vs. disseminate
  • Help vs. facilitate
  • Limits vs. parameters
  • Next vs. subsequent

 Fix #4 – Use Numerals in Number Lists.

Sounds like double talk, doesn’t it? Let me explain.

You read a line or heading that says Here are five ways to do this.

  • That’s followed by bullet points
  • Or plain text – but, no numbers

Admit it. Do you find yourself counting the points to make sure there’s five?

If you’re not that nitpicky, I bet you do notice if there’s NOT five points.

Numerals offer readers a simple roadmap for understanding key points.

Fix #5 – Spell it out.

Although a good story is a great technique, you don’t want to keep your readers guessing.

  • Spell out acronyms
  • Spell out the meaning of technical terms
  • Spell out how readers can contact you

 Keep it Simple

There you have it – five quick fixes for your business writing.

  1. A single message
  2. A well-built story
  3. A simple use of words
  4. A roadmap for readers
  5. A meaning that is spelled out

What business writing tips do you have?

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Helping you Keep it simple, clear & uniquely yours – contact me for help with your business writing needs.

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7 Responses to “5 Quick Business Writing Fixes to Keep it Simple”

  1. John Soares says:

    Great advice here Cathy, and the same topic I’m focusing on this week.

    I especially like using shorter, more common words instead of longer words that few people use. Since I write for the higher education market, I occasionally have to read academic writing, which is notorious for using big words and stilted language.
    John Soares recently posted..Why Choosing the Right Words MattersMy Profile

  2. Cathy says:

    Hi John: We often seem to be on the same cosmic wavelength. :-)

    I know what you mean about academic writing. Check out insurance and health care writing if you want big words and stilted language. :-D

    I’ll be checking out your post. Thanks for stopping by, John.

  3. Great post Cathy! I will help keep these simple fixes in mind when writing my blog posts.
    Marie McCooey recently posted..What is the fastest way to move to the beginning of an Excel worksheet?My Profile

  4. Anne Wayman says:

    Excellent – and I’ve got one reader who regularly counts my bullet points and lets me know when I’ve miscounted. I get sort of a kick out of it.

    Love what you did with Flesch – stopped me cold for a moment.
    Anne Wayman recently posted..What Working Smarter Means for the Freelance EntrepreneurMy Profile

  5. Cathy says:

    Marie- I’m glad you found them helpful. :-)

    Anne-LOL! :-D I would say keep with the bullets – hey, you have to get your fun somewhere. ;-) Thanks, Anne.

  6. Another good one, Cathy. Like Anne, the Flesch thing gave me pause for a second.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted..Putting You in the Picture About My Blogging SkillsMy Profile

  7. Cathy says:

    Thanks, Sharon. Thought I did another typo, eh? :-)

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