• Ashan R. Hampton

5 Tips for Clear and Concise Business Writing

Updated: Aug 5


5 Tips for Clear and Concise Business Writing

Clear writing is easy to understand. Concise writing is direct and free of excess wording. Therefore, the goal of clear and concise business writing is to incorporate brevity, description, style, rhythm, and sentence variety to communicate as effectively as possible without overwhelming the reader. Consequently, the five techniques presented in this article illustrate how to streamline your sentences without sounding dull or robotic by effectively arranging words in a sentence. Ultimately, the goal is to produce business writing that is informative and engaging to the reader. Remember, good writing can open doors of opportunity for promotion, especially in workplaces where effective communication is highly regarded.

1. Fix choppy sentences.

Choppy sentences occur when you write two or more short, simple sentences back-to-back. For the sake of sentence variety and flow, good writing needs a balance of long and short sentences. One way to fix choppy sentences is to combine ideas into one sentence with coordinating or subordinating conjunctions.

Choppy Sentence Example:

  • Henry and Rose are both in their late thirties. They decided to pay for their own wedding.

Choppy Sentence Revisions

  • Henry and Rose are both in their late thirties, so they decided to pay for their own wedding.

  • Since Henry and Rose are both in their late thirties, they decided to pay for their own wedding.

2. Combine sentences with conjunctions.

Since conjunctions are used to link one sentence part to another, they feature greatly in combining sentences. Depending on the kind of sentence you are writing, coordinating or subordinating conjunctions can reduce wordiness and improve the rhythm of your writing.

Separate:

  • We have rented all the offices. We expect the building to show a profit this year.

Combined (Subordinating Conjunction):

  • Since we have rented all the offices, we expect the building to show a profit this year.

Combined (Coordinating Conjunction):

  • We have rented all the offices and expect the building to show a profit this year.

3. Use the active voice.

In active voice, the subject of the sentence directly performs the action. The active voice uses the simple or root form of a verb. Active verbs do not include forms of “to be” or helping verbs, as in the passive voice. For example, Monica edited the grant proposal. In this sentence, Monica is the subject who performed the action of editing the grant proposal. Although writing passively is preferable in certain situations, strive to write business documents in the active voice, which keeps your writing straightforward and easy to read quickly.

Active:

  • The teacher lost my child’s final exam.

Passive:

  • My child’s final exam was lost by the teacher.

4. Avoid vague language.

General language makes the reader feel like something is missing or that more information is needed to make complete sense of your writing. To avoid frustrating your readers in this way, make your writing as specific, exact and vivid as possible. The following examples show you how to enliven your writing with a balanced amount of specific details.

General:

  • Janet quickly ate the main course.

Specific:

  • Janet devoured a plate of shrimp risotto before her date returned from the restroom.

General:

  • She felt good in her new clothes.

Specific:

  • Mary felt confident and attractive in her black Donna Karan pant suit.

5. Avoid Wordiness.

Wordiness refers to unnecessary, repetitious, general verbiage that adds nothing to the meaning of a sentence. In contrast, concise writing is specific, exact, and descriptive.

Wordy Writing:

  • Because of the fact that the watch was inexpensive in price, he bought it.

Concise Writing:

  • The watch was inexpensive, so he bought it.

Mastering these five elements of grammar and composition can upgrade your writing style from novice to professional. In general, your writing should be clear and understandable to most readers, rhythmically flowing from one idea to the next while easing into a satisfying conclusion. In addition to that, concise copy consists of text that is free of extra words that might muddy its meaning. Whether for business, academics or social media, writers must shape sentences in a way that is economical yet compelling.

Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers online courses and print books on grammar, proofreading, business writing and copyediting for personal and professional development to individuals and corporations. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.

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