Many different types of writing exist from creative writing, essay writing, content writing, grant writing to business writing. Just because you may not consider yourself a writer does not mean you can’t write in different settings, and shouldn’t be aware of the many types of writing that exist in your industry.
If you work in the business world, understanding business writing can be beneficial. If you are a writer, knowing how you can work in business may help boost your salary and strengthen your connections and skillset. Everyone can benefit from business writing if they want to be more efficient and stand out as an appealing job candidate.
What is Business Writing?
According to the Corporate Finance Institute, “Business writing is a type of writing that is used in a professional setting.”
Any time you write an email or a pitch at work, a letter to your boss, or even a cover letter for a job application, it can be seen as business writing. Business writing should be clear, concise, and get the message across to the reader in a purposeful way. It’s an important skill to have because those who can communicate more effectively tend to be recognized for that at the workplace.
Types of Business Writing
As you may have already guessed, there are several different types of business writing and many different examples that fall within each type:
The purpose of instructional business writing is to — just as it sounds — provide instructions to the reader. It helps the reader learn how to complete a certain task. Now, the more complex this guide is, the more it would be considered technical writing. But you can think of this as writing a memo for your staff or colleagues at work.
Persuasive business writing has the job of convincing others to do something, or driving them to take action. It could be in the form of a press release, writing a business plan, or constructing an email blast asking for donations. Persuasive business writing usually comes in conjunction with sales and marketing.
Informational business writing happens when you record important information about the company. It could be taking minutes at a meeting or writing an annual report.
Transactional business writing can be thought of as “quick” writing. It could be emails, invoices, notes, filling out official forms/paperwork, etc.
Why is Business Writing Important?
By now, you probably already recognize the importance of business writing, but let’s make it more concrete. Business writing is important for many different reasons.
For one, the better you can communicate at work with others, the easier you’ll be to work with. At the same time, if your colleagues are good at business writing, it will make things move along much more efficiently, and you can feel purposeful at your job.
Being able to write for business is essential no matter what industry you’re in, and whether or not that industry relies heavily on writing. The next time you go to work, try to pay attention to how much business writing you do in a day. You may not even realize it!
The better and more experienced you get with business writing, the more you’ll be recognized for it as a prospective employee, current employee, or an employee due for a promotion!
Principles of Good Business Writing
So, you know what business writing is, but what distinguishes good business writing from not-so-good business writing?
Here are the principles of good business writing so you can check yourself every time you complete a business writing task or assignment:
Find Your Purpose
What is the purpose of what you’re writing? Take a moment to consider what the type of business writing is that you’re working on. This can help ensure that you’re being as clear with your writing as possible, and that none of it can be misinterpreted.
Include Accurate and Relevant Information
No matter the type, business writing should include accurate and relevant information. Cut to the chase, but also, check that you have your facts and details correct. This is especially true if you’re sending out a press release or working on an annual report.
Avoid Jargon and Cliches
Depending on the industry you work in, you might be able to get a little more creative with your business writing, or at least not need to take it so seriously. Business writing should generally avoid jargons and cliches, but each business will have their own style and voice when it comes to its language.
Make It Reader-Friendly
Always, always know your audience when you do any type of writing, but especially business writing. Business writing should be reader-friendly, which means that the person or people it’s directed to will understand fully what it means.
Read, Revise, Edit
Because you’re in the workplace, be careful to read, revise, and edit your business writing before sending it to anyone else. Check for grammatical or spelling errors, and be sure that it checks all of the boxes for the criteria listed above, too.
How to Improve Your Business Writing
Is writing not your forte, even though you understand the importance of business writing as a skill set? Not to worry! Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. If this is something you need to work on, know that there are many easy ways you can improve your business writing so that it only continues to get better!
Think About What You Write
Business writing is always intentional, so think about what you want to write before you write it. At the same time, don’t linger on this too much. Write down some main points you want to get across, and then begin writing. Use a tool like Grammarly to help you check for errors, so you don’t get analysis paralysis and then never send it off!
Trim the Fat, Cut the Fluff
Some people struggle with being able to write more and others struggle with writing too much and needing to cut it down. Because business writing should be direct and implicit, read over your writing to make sure you’ve trimmed the fat and cut the fluff. Don’t include anything that doesn’t need to be there. Even if you have a close relationship with your colleague that you’re writing to, it’s important to know to stay professional.
Stay Away from “Grandiose” Vocabulary
Remember, business writing always needs to be reader-friendly. Perhaps you work in the English department at your university and you’re writing an email to your colleagues. In this circumstance, maybe using certain language and vocabulary is okay, because your audience will understand. In general, stay away from complicated terminology UNLESS it’s relevant to your industry.
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you dread business writing, then the bad news is that the only way to get better is to keep practicing. Don’t fret if it’s not perfect; it’s likely your boss already knew this when they hired you and it wasn’t a main concern. But if you want to work in a career that does require stronger business writing skills, you wouldn’t want that to be the one thing standing in the way of pursuing the job you want. So, instead of shying away from business writing whenever possible, instead, jump at the opportunity whenever it arises.
Ask for Help and Take a Business Writing Course
Never be afraid to ask for help from someone else who is more comfortable with business writing. Try to identify what your biggest challenges are with this so you can know what it is you need to work on. Or, ask someone to look at examples of your business writing to see if they have constructive criticism for you. You can also take one of the many business writing courses that are out there if you feel you need more formal instruction.
Business writing is used in nearly every occupation, but some jobs use it much more than others. Regardless, it’s important to be familiar with business writing and work towards improving your own business writing skills as much as you possibly can.
A good place to start learning these skills is in school. Many degree programs will have a writing aspect to them so you can be in tip-top shape when it’s time to enter the job market, including our degree programs at the University of the People.