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Wash Wisdom: How to improve your business writing

From proper grammar to editing, there are some simple ways to boost your business copy.


In the article “How to Polish Your Business Writing, According to ‘Grammar Girl’” by contributor Amy George on www.inc.com, George interviewed Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, producer of the podcast “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” who provided a few insightful tips into proper grammar and better writing:

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  • Don’t capitalize words freely. What often happens in corporate writing is that words that don’t need to be capitalized are done so. Often, people in business think that if something is important, it should be capitalized. For instance, a company may capitalize “Sales People” to infer that they have the best sales people around. However, English grammar doesn’t work that way. Only proper nouns should be capitalized.
  • Always have someone else edit the writing. Even editors need editors. We all make mistakes with typos and misspellings, so you need to make sure that at least one other person’s eyes always see every written material your company produces, whether it’s for the website, a business proposal or an advertisement. If you can afford to hire a copy editor full-time or on a freelance basis, do so. If not, at least get someone else in the company to look at what you’ve written. If nothing else, read what you’ve written aloud, and you’re bound to find something to fix.
  • Write to your audience. Who your audience is will determine how you write to it. For instance, don’t use corporate phrases like “strategically aligned” or “turnkey solutions” if you’re writing to a wider audience not in the corporate world. Instead, George recommends saying something more along the lines of, “We work with other smart people to bring you products and services that will make your life better.” Internally, both George and Fogarty agree that some corporate jargon is fine to use (although both suggest not overdoing it), but externally, you need to use language that will resonate with your audience.
  • When in doubt, seek a resource. In the age of the internet, it’s never been easier to find out what you need to know. If you struggle with knowing the difference between “effect” and “affect,” look it up online. If you’re not sure how to spell something properly (remember, spell check can’t always be relied upon), look it up in either a physical dictionary or an online one, such as merriam-webster.com. Your writing will be freer, and your skill will grow much more once you stop avoiding the rules and words you don’t know and look them up instead.

Read the original article here.

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