Tips on Business Writing
The importance of good business writing skills cannot be underestimated.
Here are some tips:
Remember the old public speaking adage: "Tell them what you're going
to say, say it, then tell them what you said." The same principle holds when
writing a business report. In an introductory paragraph (or section),
tell your reader what you are going to say; in the body, say it; and in a
concluding paragraph (or section), review what you have said.
Be excited by your topic. It shows! If you are not excited, you
can be sure your readers will share your lack of enthusiasm.
Break up your writing with headings, subheadings, lists, tables, and figures.
This helps the reader to understand and organize the content of your document.
It is difficult to focus on and digest unrelieved text.
Proof-read, spell-check, and grammar-check your work! A good trick
for proofreading is to read your report aloud in a conversational voice.
Your tongue will often catch awkward phrases and words which your eyes
might otherwise overlook.
Cite your sources of information and data, and include a reference list.
A good and simple way to cite your sources is simply to include the
name of the author and year of publication in parentheses within the body
of your text (Lawrence 1999). Then include the full citation in a reference
section at the end of your paper:
Lawrence, S.R., "How to write good," Journal of Unpublishable Drivel,
May 1999, 110-143.
These points can be operationalized as follows:
Use good business form -- you are English essay
Write to inform, not to entertain
Be succinct and to the point
Avoid sweeping generalities and vacuous statements
Logically support your arguments
Use 1.5 line spacing (as opposed to single or double spacing) which is pleasing
to the eye
11 point text (but 10 or 12 pt is OK)
Give your document a brief descriptive title (e.g., Technology of the
Sewer Repair Industry)
Lay out the organization, purpose, and principal points of your document.
Your introduction should set the stage for the reader so that s/he
has an idea as to the topic and intent of your report.
The body is the content of your document where you present your data and
make your points.
Carefully organize the body of your report so that similar topics are included
together, and the logic of your report flows smoothly.
Break up your writing with heading, subheadings, tables, figures, and lists.
This will help you to organize your writing and will help your readers
to quickly understand your report. Reading pages of unrelieved text
is tedious. (One good way to proceed is to organize your report with
headings and subheadings before you even begin to write.)
Cite references to show the source(s) of information and data included in
your document. An easy citation format is simply to include the author's
last name (or publication name) and year of publication in parentheses.
For example: "Opinions are 67.8% more believable when accompanied
by statistics (Lawrence 1997)." Then include the full reference for
Lawrence in the references section at the end of your report
Conclusions or Summary
Use a summary or conclusions paragraph to wrap-up your document and provide
closure. Often, this last paragraph or section briefly recapitulates
the principal points of the report and offers a final opinion about the report's
The reference list is a list of the sources of information used and cited
in the document.
Stephen R. Lawrence,
College of Business and Administration, University of Colorado, 1997