Catchy headlines, sales copy and fictional writing are inclined to break the rules of writing and get away with it. And all the power to them. That just means professional writing is easier to execute on account of its simple rules and expectations.

If you want your professional or business writing to always have a professional tone, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure you don’t sound like a used car salesman when speaking to your current and prospective clients. (Using terminology like “used car salesman” is not one of them.) The following are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your professional business writing sounds like it means business.

1. No Ellipses

Ellipses are a set of three consecutive periods used to separate thoughts (…). They aren’t incorrect by any means. But when used too freely, they become distasteful. Some use ellipses in place of a comma or dash. Don’t do this. The only time it’s OK to use ellipses in professional writing is to substitute missing text in the middle of a quote, like so:

“The dog ran away […] after which he returned.”

2. Drop Exclamation Marks

It’s easy to get carried away with these, especially when you want to emphasize something or if you feel really passionately about a point. Unless you want your reader to feel like they’re being yelled at, refrain from using exclamation marks. Nothing in professional language should be that dramatic. And if you want to be dramatic, a passive period would be more effective.

3. Go Easy on Brackets

Their use is absolutely correct when you want to separate a thought within a sentence. But do this sparingly, as you don’t want your sentences to get too complex and convoluted. If you’re being professional, you want to be cogent and succinct. You don’t want your reader getting lost in too many side notes.

4. Avoid Contractions

Contractions like it’s, you’re and they’ll should be written in their formal it is, you are and they will forms. Contractions make the flow of language more fluid, and are great for when you want the written word to sound like the spoken word. But in many professional instances, they can come off as too casual.

5. Be Careful of Repetition

This applies to any form of writing, really. But using the same word too many times doesn’t sound very good. It comes off as lazy writing. Particular to promotional writing, it’s expected that you state your claim a number of times, but too much repetition can start to sound overly sales-y. And that is sure to turn off prospective clients.

6. Break Up Sections with Sub-Headings

This is more to improve and structure the flow of ideas, especially if the piece of writing is lengthy. Headings and sub-headings serve a valuable purpose. Plus, you can use the opportunity to incorporate keywords that make your content more searchable on the Web. Just make sure the titles of your headings are indicative of what’s coming next in the text itself. Misleading headlines are not good for business.