Another 25 super-speedy tips for better business writing

For tips 1-25, see my previous post.

26. Beware billing something as “exciting” unless your reader really will be trembling in anticipation.

27. When you reach the point you’re happy with your work, go back and cut 20%.

28. Never assume your reader is as informed as you are. Picture them as a Martian newly arrived on earth.

29. Get a writing buddy. Find a friendly colleague and agree to review each other’s work.

30. Always read your work aloud. Edit anything that trips you up or leaves you gasping for breath.

31. Don’t capitalise a phrase just because it’s often abbreviated. CSR = corporate social responsibility.

32. Don’t know the difference between “anticipate” and “expect”? Use “expect”: it’s probably what you mean.

33. With every sentence, ask: is this interesting to my reader or just to me? Delete if the latter.

34. Blank page? Don’t get it right – get it written. Then go back and edit, edit, edit.

35. There is no situation in which the pompous word “facilitate” is necessary. Use do/make/help.

36. Quoting someone in a press release/staff mag? Always use “said”, not “commented”, “observed” etc.

37. Save time and pixels by ditching “in the event that” for the simple word “if”.

38. You wouldn’t capitalise ‘plumber’ or ‘builder’, so why treat white-collar job titles any differently?

39. Written a sentence you’re particularly proud of? That’s probably the one you most need to rework.

40. Spend as much time on your headline as you do on the rest of your text.

41. Affect or effect? Most times, the mnemonic RAVEN applies: Remember, Affect = Verb, Effect = Noun.

42. The phrase “in excess of” is pompous and long-winded. Use “more than” or “over” instead.

43. Avoid turning nouns into verbs – actioned/tasked/impacted etc are horrible!

44. Ditch repetitive business phrases like transformational change/new innovation/worldwide global firm.

45. Learn to spot and simplify Latinate words (usually longer and more abstract – eg, residence v house).

46. Never ask for “approval” or “sign-off”. Ask for fact-checking and lock the doc so others can’t edit it.

47. Use “use”, not “utilise”.

48. “Unprecedented” is not synonymous with “excellent”. Save it for something that’s never happened before.

49. Google finds 1,460,000 uses of “thought leader”. Claim to be one and you’re just following the crowd.

50. Nobody’s taken in by corporate euphemisms like “rightsizing”. Dare to be honest.

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2 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Dan Cash says:

    I think I love you. Spelling and Grammar bullies are the best people in the world, I shall drift into the arms of Morpheus dreaming of your correcting my syntax…

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