Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is there a secret to writing effective e-mails, letters, reports, and proposals?

Yes, there is, says Richard Nordquist, an American professor emeritus of rhetoric and English and the author of two grammar and composition textbooks for college students. Writing on his blog on, where he has served as the Guide to Grammar and Composition since 2006, Nordquist provides his top 10 editing tips for business writers:
  • Adopt the "you attitude".
  • Focus on the real subject.
  • Write actively, not passively.
  • Cut unnecessary words and phrases.
  • But don't leave out key words.
  • And don't forget your manners.
  • Avoid outdated expressions.
  • Put a cap on the buzzwords.
  • Unstack your modifiers.
  • And, of course, proofread.
Each tip comes with an example.

Here, for instance, is the example provided with the admonition to avoid outdated expressions.

Draft: Attached herein for your reference is a duplicated version of the aforementioned deed.
Revision: I have enclosed a copy of the deed.

As for putting a cap on buzzwords, you will understand immediately what does not work when you read Nordquist's example:

Draft: At the end of the day the bottom line is that we should facilitate opportunities for employees to provide input on best practices.
Revision: Let's encourage people to make suggestions.

Read the post in its entirety here: "Top Ten Editing Tips for Business Writers".

And while you're at it, study Nordquist's Top 10 Proofreading Tips, too.

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