Many professionals struggle with writing, so they search for writing tips. After all, writing is a crucial part of daily professional life just as much as networking and professional development are. Unlike spoken communication, written mistakes are there for people to see and scrutinize. Making careless errors can impact meaning or seriously endanger your professional credibility. Getting your message across effectively and efficiently is essential for consistent professional branding and necessary intra-office communications.
Here are Six Writing Tips
Know Your Audience
One of the first of our writing tips is to understand that writing is not a one-size-fits-all. Tailoring to your reader is essential. You wouldn’t compose an in-office e-mail with the same tone that you’d write a formal project proposal to management. Keep in mind the audience’s position relative to your own. Also, consider their knowledge on the subject. Supply background information only when necessary. Workplace customs and office protocol will dictate what is and is not appropriate. Ensure that your writing, like your attitude, is tailored differently for every situation.
Time is precious. Clearly establish what you will accomplish in the document. Then, avoid wasting time and get it done. Avoid using pompous and academic language when simple ones will do. Get all the essential information across without testing your colleague’s attention span.
Do Your Homework
Another of our writing tips is to take accountability for the information you distribute. If you’re using data or other outside facts, be sure to check multiple sources to verify (Wikipedia doesn’t count). Cite your materials at the end of a document or as a link within the text. This will enhance credibility with your readers and provide them with a resource for further information.
Make it Readable
A dense block of text can be highly intimidating to readers, no matter what the circumstances. Break up the monotony by using organizational tools such as headings, bullet points, and graphics. Once you’ve finished a piece, take a look as if you’ve never seen it before. Is it eye-catching? Easy to navigate? Would you read it? The benefits of this strategy are twofold: the text will be visually more appealing for readers and you will organize your thoughts in a logical manner.
Revise, Revise, Revise
Many people assume that once they finish writing something, the job is done. In fact, revising is an integral part of the writing process. A piece of writing, no matter what the genre or length, always requires several drafts. If you think there’s nothing else to revise, let it sit for a few minutes. Return after a break and you may see awkward wording or a typographical error that you didn’t notice before. Reading a piece out loud also helps writers to hear any inconsistencies or rough transitions. Did you stumble over a sentence? That’s a strong indicator that it’s time to take another look.
Consult a trusted resource such as the Associated Press Stylebook or the Purdue OWL for all of your formatting and mechanics needs. Keep a sharp eye out for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage errors. (Here’s an example, and another, of some common cringe-worthy mistakes.) Adhere to style guidelines based on the genre of your composition. Above all, keep your writing consistent. If you tend to write “percent” instead of using “%,” for example, make sure you do it every single time. These seemingly small issues make a significant difference when a reader evaluates the credibility of a piece of writing and, by extension, an organization.