The Communications Factors: Biz Writing Part 2
As stated yesterday in the post, the article titled “Six Types of Words That You Should Axe in Business Writing” provided excellent tips and perspectives about writing that business correspondence every professional, at one time or another, has to write.
The first tip of the article was the avoidance of “unfamiliar” words, which we discussed in the previous post. The second tip was to stay away from “long words”because, the article claims, they can be very yawn-inducing. Shorter words are more easily digested and comprehended by the masses. As we stated with our thoughts regarding unfamiliar words, there is nothing wrong with having an extensive vocabulary with a multitude of multi-syllabic words, but as far as their usage in business emails and letters, that should be avoided. Remember, words, and letters for that matter, are expensive. Why use a word with seven letters when a word with only four or five will suffice just fine? Unless you are playing Scrabble, stay away from the longer words if a shorter one will convey the same meaning equally as well.
The third point is that the business writer should avoid using abstract words. Maybe it’s from my years working on the paper, but it seems that the story – or business letter/email/whatever, has more of an impact when you can say, “Membership jumped 40 percent,” rather than, “The membership increased substantially.” Using specifics not only gives your piece credibility and readability, but it also provides the writer with the reputation of being precise and not vague.
The fourth type of word to stay away from are passive words. I cannot completely agree with this tip. Sometimes, it is appropriate, or ever preferable, to use the passive voice. The idea is not to write the story to tell itself – like you would in a novel, replacing “it was raining hard” with “the sky opened and the rain completely obfuscated our view.” But if you’re writing for businesses or with business purposes, you will not need to paint the reader a picture using your words. Generally, short and sweet is best. Cut to the chase. Provide enough information, but then make your point.
The fifth type of word the business writer is advised to avoid is the Camouflaged Word, which is simply a verb changed into a noun-form by adding -tion, -ing, -ment, etc: Act becomes Action; Establish becomes Establishment. These words are usually used to bolster the writer’s self-esteem. For example, instead of writing, “This guy’s writings were filled with the tendency to provide easily-understood tips,” one should write “This guy wrote to provide easily-understood tips.” There, I cut the sentence by five words and didn’t lose any of the meaning.
The sixth type of word to avoid is the unnecessary word. Examples of these would be “consensus of opinion,” “usually always,” and “in my own mind.” (Whose mind would it be if it weren’t your own?) These words don’t add anything to the meaning of the sentence, and as I’ve explained before, words are expensive. Other instances are “basic fundamentals,” since the fundamentals are the basics, “just recently,” since something recent only just happened, and “unique individuals,” since all individuals are unique.
A quick disclaimer:
- I do not write this blog to shoot holes in anyone’s theories or practices.
- I have recently become aware that sometimes, when posting to my blog, I make mistakes, and the grammatical or spelling error gets published.
- Others who are in the publishing industry also have these same problems; no one is perfect.
How ’bout it?