If you write for a business audience, there are some technical terms you need to know. Enjoy!
Clichés are overused words and phrases that have lost their impact. Unfortunately, business writing is often rife with them.
A Cloze Test is a way of measuring the readability of a piece of writing. It is sometimes used on business documentation.
Consistency is one of the main features of good business writing. Writing must be consistent in terms of tense (sense of time) and agreement (of verb to noun, singular and plurals). But think also of consistency in spelling, style, headings, references, layout, capitalisation, abbreviations, and use of numerals.
Fluency is the psychological ease with which our brains can process information. Fluent business writing favours the small, simple, and straightforward, always.
A fragment is an incomplete sentence, a sentence that can’t stand by itself grammatically or make sense when removed from its context.
Headings are vital to good structure, as they act as thematic summaries for a collection of paragraphs and as signposts for what lies ahead. They also creating more breaks and white space for our busy eyes, increasing readability. They make readers curious.
Jargon refers to the language that is understood by those within a group but not necessarily by those outside it. Such language can be technical (sometime technobabble) or cultural (textspeak). In the workplace, it is known as such as corporate jargon or management speak.
The use of metaphor in describing one thing in terms of another adds style to writing if it is used consistently and subtly. Avoid the mistake of mixing metaphors within a document. Which metaphors an organisation employs can tell us much about it.
Officialese sometimes called bureaucratese is an official, formal, almost legal way of writing. It tends to favour all that is long, wordy, complex and vague. As such, it is the opposite of good business writing, which is professional without sounding soulless.
The term Plain English points to both a style of writing and to the Plain English Campaign.
Redundancies are additional words that add little extra to the meaning of. a sentence. They work by repeating the same idea twice (first and foremost, general consensus), by using multiple words when one would do (at a later date, in the event that, with reference to, on the grounds that), or by inserting vague words (very, considerably). Redundancies are widespread in business writing. Tighten your writing by simply removing them.
A run-on is a sentence in which two ideas ( ‘independent clauses ‘) are joined together without correct punctuation. They should be split into two sentences.
Simplicity is the defining feature of effective business writing. Use short, common words where possible; short sentences with one main concept per sentence, each sentence self-contained; short paragraphs with one theme per paragraph; and simple sentence constructions, which have the key idea near the start.
Many organisations have a Style Guide; all organisations should. It’s an approved set of rules and examples for the design and layout of all organisational communications, including how all documents should be written and formatted.
Templates are pre-written document outlines and structures that help ensure consistency and professionalism. Spend time planning them and share them widely across your organisation.
A Tone of Voice Document shows how the values and personality of a brand are expressed, including in written communications. It will cover writing choices like formal/informal, technical/simple, colloquial/international, and humorous/serious.
In grammar, voice relates to the verb, or doing word, in a sentence. Business writing prefers use of the active voice (‘Our business won the tender.’) over the passive voice (‘The tender was won by our business.’)
Which ones were news to you? Let us know what you thought in the comments.