Nearly every job involves a little bit of writing. For example, a plumber will have to write out a quote or send a text message to confirm an appointment, for example. There’s probably a website with written text involved somewhere too.
Of course, there are many types of jobs where there is quite a lot of writing involved. These days many businesspeople will send emails or post content on social media platforms. Then there are blog posts for marketing, or reports, or countless other elements that may involve the written word.
With some exceptions, which we will cover later, these activities require a certain style of business language. And writing for business requires a certain approach that not everyone has mastered.
Here are the most typical mistakes people make when they write for business:
The formality is all wrong
Formality, which is known as register in professional circles, can be broken down into three distinct categories: formal, neutral and informal. Business literature – that is, anything you write for business purposes – should be neutral in its delivery, meaning that it avoids the formal language of a legal contract, for example, but doesn’t represent common speech either.
The tone is all wrong
Tone can be described as the way that you sound when you communicate. For example, aggressive, or polite, or playful, or serious, and so on. Of course, you may adapt your tone to suit the occasion, but this requires management of the way you write, as well as understanding of the culture you are operating in.
For example, in a business email in English it would be considered common practice to write a very brief ice-breaking message before you get down to business. “I hope you are well” would be the most commonly used expression. Failing to do this could make your communication sound curt, or even rude.
Tone is not just about the language that you use, but the language that you don’t use.
The words are too informal (or too formal)
Be careful with the vocabulary you use. In English there are very often formal and informal partners for words, meaning that you can select the version that you require. We have already seen that a neutral formality is in fact the best to aim for in business writing, but it becomes a little more difficult to navigate the selection of the right word.
For example, the word ‘children’ is considered the more formal partner of the word ‘kids’, and therefore would be more acceptable in business writing. However, ‘transpire’ is the formal version of ‘happen’, but would sound a little forced and overly formal in a business email.
Finding the right balance in your vocabulary is important, and having access to synonyms can be an incredibly useful tool. Fortunately, well-regarded writing assistants such as Linguix provide this very function, as well as many more.
The expressions used are too colloquial
Avoid language that is only used in certain regions, and certainly avoid writing the way you would speak. In English, for example, there are many dialects and local examples of vocabulary that would be best avoided in business writing. Instead, stick to the tried-and-tested neutral, global, written English that is standard in business.
No text speak
Text language really isn’t acceptable in anything other than an informal text message between friends. Just don’t use it for anything else!
The sentences are too long, and so are the paragraphs
The last thing anyone wants to see is a long-winded email with huge paragraphs. Likewise, in a social media post or even a written report.
Paragraphs exist to separate ideas, so use plenty of them to make the reading experience all that much easier for your intended target.
The golden rule is keep it simple! Sometimes people mistake overcomplicating things for sounding smart. It’s not. It just confuses matters. The best business writing is succinct, to the point, and professional in nature.
There are spelling mistakes
Spelling mistakes are just a huge ‘no-no’ in terms of your business writing. At best you look careless, at worst you look unprofessionalism. And there is just no reason for it because there is so much help to avail of in terms of spellchecking software and writing assistants.
And proofread. It’s incredible how many people don’t re-read what they have written before they send it, post it, or whatever it is they meant to do with it. Don’t make that mistake!
There are grammatical mistakes
Inevitably you will hear many people state “but I’m not a writer.” This protestation seems to be an attempt to absolve oneself from the mistakes that are included in their writing, especially those kinds of mistakes that can be labelled ‘grammatical’.
You may even be writing in a language that is not your mother tongues; after all, many people conduct business in English when they are in fact a non-native English speaker. This heightens the possibility of grammatical mistakes in their writing.
But help is at hand that should mean you need not make any grammatical mistakes at all. Indeed, a first-class writing assistant, such as Linguix, will ensure that you can avoid all of the mistakes highlighted in this list.
When business writing is not so formal
Previously we mentioned exceptions to the rule when writing for business purposes, and this comes in the case of both marketing and social media, which can sometimes be one and the same thing.
In both cases you are pitching to a defined target audience, so then your language must clearly suit who that audience is. Now you have more freedom to use colloquialisms, slang terms, and even be deliberately flexible with grammar rules and the such. But once again, Linguix can help as you select your pre-defined parameters in terms of what you are trying to achieve with your writing.
Whatever it is you need to write for business, there is a right way, and there is help available.