Business writing skills
Business writing includes a wide range of different formats and writing jobs. These jobs include both internal communication within the company and external communication interfacing with the public and organisations. Business writing include the development of the following documents: newsletters, memos, letters, proposals, reports, power point presentations, press releases, marketing brochures, copywriting, technical writing, web copy, blogging, resumes and job applications, and more.
Learning support, assessment and certification
The following learning institutions offer learning support, assessment services, and accreditation for courses using this unit:
- Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin, New Zealand offers both face to face and online support in this programme in the School of Business Travel and Tourism, through the (New Zealand) National Certificate in First Line Management.
Study up on the following 3 areas
Applying punctuation, spelling & grammar
In really simple terms, sentences need to:
- Sound right (the correct use of punctuation, tenses and words)
- Look right (use of correct spelling, words and punctuation)
- Be right (the right length, contain clear messages and use correct grammar)
- Get right to the point (use appropriate contextual reference and achieve the desired result with a minimum of fanfare)
Grammar is a favourite of few people, but let's take a fresh look at how it can be useful to us. Every language has its own ways of making words behave or work well together and that set of relationships is called the grammar of that language. Correct grammar therefore, is the use of words that obey the usage standards of a language. More information...
Written punctuation indicates stops, pauses and new beginnings. It keeps points distinct from one another. It creates clarity. It alerts the reader to when one sentence starts and finishes or whether we're asking a question or making a statement.
Some simple rules for punctuation are:
- Begin a sentence with a capital letter and a full stop to finish it.
- Use a comma to mark a pause or to give one part of a sentence equal weight with another sentence.
- Begin a statement sentence with a capital letter and finish it with a full stop.
- Begin a question sentence with a capital letter and finish it a question mark (?).
- Begin a command sentence with a capital letter and end it with a full stop or an exclamation mark (!).
Begin an exclamation sentence with a capital letter and finish it with an exclamation mark (!).
Colons (:) introduce a word, phrase, a sentence and a list. It gives emphasis to whatever is being introduced, because readers must stop and pay attention.
Semicolons (;) can be used as a connector between two sentences and as a supercomma. Supercommas shows lists and their relationship clearly: i.e. the company has subsidiaries in four cities: Mosgiel, Dunedin; Belfast, Christchurch; Panmure, Auckland; Upper Hutt, Wellington.
Commas (,) tell the reader when to pause. They are used between items in a series.
Dash (-) is used to connect groups of words to other groups. It separates the words in the middle of a sentence from the rest of the sentence, or it leads to material at the end of a sentence. Use dashes sparingly for the occasion when extra emphasis is needed.
Apostrophe (') is used to form contractions, which are two words collapsed into one i.e. cannot > can't; we are > we're. The apostrophe tells the reader a letter or two have been omitted from a word and replaces the missing letter. Apostrophes also are used to mark the possessive. For example, Sue's word processor; the accountant's spreadsheet; the supervisor's rosters. When the noun is both plural and possessive i.e. there may be more than one Sue, one accountant and one supervisor - the apostrophe comes after, not before, the s: Sues', accountants', supervisors'.
Apostrophes can also make a possessive of a singular noun that already ends in s. This is done by adding 's to the word; however, you can also remove the second s, ending up with the s'. The apostrophe is also used to make letters and numerals plural i.e. I received C's and D's for that assessment; I got six 5's and seven 8's for that test.
Quotation Marks (" ") come at the beginning and end of a person's exact words i.e. "I walked the dog". Quotations usually start with a capital letter. A comma usually separates the quotation from the words that tell who is speaking.
Parentheses (brackets) are used to enclose additional information not essential to the meaning of a sentence. They also are used to add facts, such as a name or number.
Hyphens ( - ) are used to show a word has been split between two lines of text and to make two words into a single adjective before a noun. Source: Punctuation Made Simple.
Effective writing styles and methods overview
Having effective business writing skills is essential for managers and supervisors. Developing a natural sounding individual style includes using effective phraseology that's appropriate to the task at hand.
Incorporation of simple direct wording that considers the needs of the recipient into your own style is the beginning of your development: It uses a format that is appealing, readable and facilitates the readers’ understanding. Without exception, it is error free and speaks to the individual needs of the audience addressed, thereby furthering the professionalism of the writer and the organisation represented.
A practise exercise might be to consider writing a letter requesting repayment of a loan: how would you phrase your letter, considering the ongoing relationship between you, your establishment, and your customer? Continue on with another concise request for additional information from a reference regarding a potential employee which you're considering taking on.
Monitor effectiveness of business writing
What are the indicators of effective communications? Effectiveness is dependent upon the communication being presented through the appropriate channel (format) and presented in a way that assists the recipient's comprehension and understanding.
- How do we know whether our business writing is effective?
- How do we know if our messages are understood by the recipient?
- How do we know if the format and style we use, is appropriate for the purpose?
- How do we know if the tone, sentence construction, grammar and spelling is alright?