Management Tip of the Day: Rules for clearer writing

Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:29am EDT
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BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - Business writing is about clarity and a call to action, not an excuse to tap into your inner James Joyce or try out some new punchlines, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and (http:\\ Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"In business writing, you get points for clarity, not style. Instead of trying to wax poetic about your division's plans for the next 60 days, just make your point.

Here are four ways to do that:

1. One idea per paragraph. Novels hold several complex ideas and emotions in a single paragraph. In business writing, limit your thoughts to one per paragraph. When you have another suggestion, thought or idea, start a new paragraph.

2. Put your point in the first sentence. Don't entice your readers with background information and build-up. No one has time for that. Make your primary point first. Then go into supporting detail.

3. Make it 'scannable.' Few people read every word in an email. Use headers and bullet points so that your audience can quickly scan your message and understand your point.

4. Humor -- or not. Humor typically doesn't work in business writing, so just say what you mean to say without the cute or sarcastic undertones.

-Today's management tip was adapted from "How to Succeed in Business Writing: Don't Be Dickens" by David Silverman.

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