Speeches, documents, articles, blog posts, news releases, websites, even inter-office memos are all examples of business writing. They are also prime opportunities for you to make some common business writing mistakes.

When it comes down to it, words are a crucial communications tool. Certain business writing gaffes will create the perception that your company is inexperienced, unprofessional or even foolish!

Here are 7 blunders to avoid at all costs:

1.  Misused Words

It’s no secret that the English language is complex and confusing, but that’s no excuse for you to misuse words in your business communications. Some of the more common mix-ups involve the following:

  • It’s and Its
  • Then and Than
  • Lay and Lie
  • You’re and Your
  • Fewer and Less
  • Affect and Effect
  • There, They’re and Their
  • Who and Whom

These words may seem pretty common, but when you start mixing them up and inserting them in the wrong places, no one will accuse you of being a genius.

2.  Forgetting Your Audience

Whatever the platform, keep in mind that you are writing to a specific audience. This is not a place to dump your inner ramblings or project “your way of doing things.” Leave your own ego off the page or the screen and speak to your audience, in language your audience will understand. 

3.  Trying to Sound Educated

Using long words and complex phrases may sound smart to you, but most other people will have a different opinion. Whether your readers are colleagues, current customers or prospective customers, they have better things to do than try to decipher your complicated writing. Be clear and concise and speak directly to your reader, because your big words really aren’t fooling anyone.

4.  Apostrophe Abuse

Making a habit of missing apostrophes or sticking them where they don’t belong gets tiresome very quickly. A couple of rules to keep in mind are that you should use an apostrophe when two words are jammed into one. This is called a contraction. Examples are can not squeezed into can’t or you are making you’re. Possessive pronouns like hers and ours don’t require apostrophes, nor do plural nouns like tickets or cars, unless they are being used in a possessive form.

5.  Poor Planning

Many people want to get in front of that computer and start writing, but the old saying about planning to fail if you fail to plan is painfully true when it comes to business writing. If you don’t decide what kind of message you want to get across, which information is necessary and which isn’t, you may end up with a long, muddled mess that will only leave people shaking their heads.

6.  Dangling Your Modifiers

I know, sounds like English class, but if you place a modifying clause next to the wrong word or phrase, the sentence sounds screwy. Here’s an example: “Melting out in the sun, the young lady brought the ice cream inside.” The structure makes it sound like the young lady is melting out in the sun and not the ice cream.

7. Ending Sentences Poorly

Words such as by, up, down, at, about and on are called prepositions. They are supposed to come before a noun or pronoun in a sentence, yet many people feel it necessary to place them at the end. “The executive committee sent down these regulations which the whole company must abide by.” Keep an eye on those sentence endings, because they mean more than you think.

When you make mistakes like these, many prospective clients will never move out of that prospective status. If you can’t be bothered to correct your business writing blunders, how much effort do you put into everything else?

You’re not foolish, so give us a call today and we’ll help you tighten up your business writing so it reflects the real you.