You’ve heard it before: “Time is money.” In professional settings, this statement often rings true. And, it’s just one of the reasons why professional writing is a key skill to hone. Professional writing is used for different purposes. When it comes to learning how to grow your professional writing skills, the good news is that it’s pretty simple to do if you’re dedicated to the endeavor.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Professional Writing?
Professional writing is a big umbrella of writing that typically involves formal writing. It entails all the different types of writing for professional purposes, including business letters, progress reports, research reports, marketing, job applications, cover letters, work presentations, emails, and the like.
Professional writing is meant to be clear and concise. The goal is often to get across information in the most succinct and easy-to-understand way possible. One of the primary things you’ll need to know when writing professionally is your audience. Like all types of writing, you want to choose a tone that is intended for the reader.
Let’s take a look at the different types of professional writing, and then we’ll cover some tips for improving your professional writing abilities.
What Are the Types of Professional Writing?
The main types of business writing include:
As the name implies, instructional writing is meant to explain how to do something or provide directions (hence, instructions).
Informational writing doesn’t call for any action to be taken on behalf of the audience. Instead, its main goal is to share information, like reference materials or records for storage.
Transactional writing is a common form of professional writing that occurs on a daily basis. It can include emails, official letters, or invoices, to name a few.
Persuasive writing is mostly used in advertising and marketing as it seeks to persuade users or customers to buy a product of service. Persuasive writing is also used to build relationships with customers.
Tips to Improve Your Professional Writing Skills
Now that we’ve covered what professional writing is, the big question still remains: “How do I improve my professional writing skills?”
The practice of improving professional writing skills will differ for every person. It can depend on your natural writing ability, your experience level, your needs, and use cases, for example. However, for any person who wants to improve their professional writing skills, any or all of the following suggestions can be game-changing.
1. Read a lot
Sure, you’re looking to be a better writer, but to do so, you also need to be a better reader. Why is this the case? People who read a lot of professional writing examples can learn from them. You obtain a feel for sentence structure (also known as syntax), grammar, and stylistic elements. Another pro about reading a lot is that you may start to recognize mistakes. That’s when you know that you’ve leveled up!
Think of writing as you would think of running. The more you do it, the easier (and faster) you become. You can practice writing anywhere and everywhere. If there’s a certain type of professional writing from the categories above that you want to master, practice that specific type. Ask people for feedback once you’ve written some pages.
3. Be concise
Time is money, and in the working world, most people are always seeking more time. That’s why it can pay to be concise and to-the-point. Focus on the message you want to get across and remove all the unnecessary words around it. When you are designing ads, email newsletters, flyers, and the like, use design to your advantage. The well-thought-out combination of design and words can make all the difference in conveying a message successfully.
4. Leverage online tools
Thanks to technology, there are online tools that are specifically geared to help people make the most of their professional writing. For example, you can use Grammarly to check your grammar or word counter on the word processing tool of your choice to check your word count. Also, don’t forget about the bare necessities — spell check.
5. Be aware of the tone
As you know, writing on a billboard feels different than writing in a job application cover letter. What this comes down to is tone of voice. When you talk, you can sense the tone of voice based on your inflection and volume. Just like speaking, writing has a tone of voice infused. Write as you would speak. Of course, that will depend on who you are speaking to (audience) and what you are trying to say (message).
6. Edit and proofread
One of the most important things to do when writing, especially professionally, is to proofread and edit your work. Before you hit “Publish,” “Send,” or “Print,” you need to re-read what you wrote. A good way to check for errors is to read what you write out loud. Often, it’s easy to look over errors in your writing when you read it in your head because your brain fills in the missing word or omits the extra word. That’s why the reading out loud trick can be helpful because you may be more likely to hear the mistake.
7. Check facts
In professional writing, it’s really important to be honest with any facts. Your writing may be reflecting the business’ credibility and reputation, so you’ll want to add sources when relevant. Fact-checking ensures that people will continue to trust what you share.
8. Organize first
Depending on what type of professional writing you’re doing, it may make the most sense to create an outline or write notes for what you wish to accomplish. This is especially true when you are drafting newsletters, whitepapers, reports, and blogs, to name a few.
9. Grammar and spelling
As mentioned, proofreading and editing are crucial in professional writing. You’ll want to look out for proper grammar and spelling so that you can avoid making mistakes. Since writing is a process, you’ll likely have multiple iterations before you make it to an acceptable final product.
If you have the time and resources, it may be helpful to sign up for local or online writing workshops. You can type “local writing workshops” into Google to find out where there may be some offered around you. Another way to improve your professional writing skills is to enroll in a degree program online. Within the setting of education, you will undoubtedly practice your writing skills across different subject areas.
Professional writing can be fun, too. The headline above is a prime example of wordplay — did you catch it?
The more you read and practice professional writing, the better you will become. This type of writing is transferable across job titles and careers, so it’s always a beneficial skill to possess.