The Business of Writing for Business
While conducting business certainly involves the language of numbers, it just as much depends on the language of words. Knowing financial formulas, accounting equations and more is important; however, you explain all of this with words. Modern business systems, practices, functions, and more, depend on the good old English language in a host of countries worldwide.
This is just an overview of the main types of business writing you might be confronted with. In the coming months, we’ll expand on each in more detail and by the end of the series, you will have a well-rounded view of business writing, which will help you to understand how to approach each task and to further your work in the world of commerce.
Here’s our run down of the main types:
Emails are the younger sibling of business writing. A latter 20th century invention, emails are now commonplace in business. You may send and receive them often where you work. They’re a quick way to communicate and have eliminated or at the very least significantly reduced the use of “snail mail” in many businesses.
With email, you can attach a host of documents and get them speedily to associates and such. Business emails have revolutionized communications between individuals and companies. The key to effective emails in business are clarity and conciseness of writing.
While still in use today, quick memos on notepaper have seen emails encroach on their territory. Still, some people like putting pen (or pencil) to paper. They like writing quick snippets of information to tack on a bulletin board, stick onto their computer screen, or place on someone’s desk.
Mini-Reports and Papers
This is business writing of a more substantial sort. Mini-reports and papers deal with a certain subject in depth. They are for internal purposes within an organization or find use as informational tools offered to individuals and enterprises outside an organization. An example would be a frozen food company issuing a mini-report on their new state-of-the-art freezing and packaging process for their products.
Business letter come in many forms. Companies send these as paper copy or via email. A business letter can be a sales letter, a letter of thanks, a letter of congratulation or welcome, or a letter to generate goodwill for a company. In addition, companies write letters of apology, seasonal greeting letters, and letters demanding prompt payment for goods and services rendered.
Newsletters are an effective way to keep individuals and other businesses informed about their enterprise. Newsletters are typically monthly, although some are weekly. Newsletters contain mini-articles and short blurbs of information. They go out in regular mail or via email. Many are of vibrant colour and graphics, whether hard copy or online. Newsletters highlight people in organizations as well as products and services.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “In meetings you take minutes and waste hours.” If you attend meetings as part of your job, you may end up being asked to take the minutes. Minutes are the official record of what took place during the meeting, so you need to be accurate and keep it short and simple. They are distributed to anyone who attended the meeting and anyone who has an interest in the outcome of the meeting.
Informative articles are a type of business writing. They appear on company websites and on corporate blogs. Often a company writes a search engine optimized (SEO) article intended for widespread distribution on the Internet. They provide links back to their company website in the author’s resource section at the end of the article. These articles build traffic to business websites.
Articles can also be part of online and offline trade publications. For example the launch of a new product or a business article on new trends in materials used in manufacturing home siding. Home renovation trade magazines would welcome this type of article as it applies to the interests of their readership.
Brochures and Catalogues
This is specialized business writing designed to showcase a business overall as well as their products and services. Again, a brochure or catalogue can be on paper or online, and are often both. They’re usually glossy, with sharp, vivid images accompanying the actual writing.
Advertisements can be anywhere and everywhere. This includes offline in newspapers, pamphlets, flyers, on the Web, or on mobile devices. They can also be on radio, or on television. That’s where scriptwriting comes in, a unique form of business writing.
A press release is a piece of public relations writing. Its intent is to “get the word out” about an enterprises products and services. A press release would usually be one to two pages in length. The press release consists of a headline and informational paragraphs (with subheadings as required). A press release has a “news” aura about it; it shouldn’t come across as a blatant piece of sales literature.
An instruction manual can be anything from an extensive manual, a booklet, or even a sheet of paper, the main purpose of which is to explain how to use, build, operate, or install something. For example, it could be a set of instructions on how to put together a wall stand you’ve purchased. It may be instructions on how to operate that new HDTV you brought home. It may be instructions on how to play the latest video game on the market. Instruction manuals explain ways of doing things, usually talk about hazards and safe operating procedures, and outline care, and maintenance.
A business proposal is writing presented from one business to another business or to an individual. The intent is to elicit business from this prospect. The writer of a business proposal identifies a certain niche market they wish to garner business from; they proceed to explain to them how they can serve them by delivering quality solutions.
These are another unique form of business writing. This is writing that details plans for a new or an existing business. This type of writing lays out an enterprise’s business goals and strategies. It provides information that outlines financing plans, marketing plans, strategies, growth potential, and more. In essence, it’s a business’s roadmap in detail, of how they will work to realize their goals and be successful. A business plan is often for people who can provide capital to a company.
This is business writing for the ears, not the eyes. Companies have business writers create speeches so company representatives can speak in public about their enterprises, as well as about issues and causes related to their business. This kind of writing must conform to a special set of rules so that the message stays fresh and doesn’t lull listeners to sleep.
An annual report is a significant piece of writing. It involves a major time investment for a writer or writers to put together. An annual report is for the shareholders, employees, and other interested parties, of a company. It includes a corporation’s annual, audited balance sheet and related statements of earnings, stockholders or owners’ equity and cash flows, as well as other financial and business information. It summarizes the results of operations and the financial status of a company for the previous year. In addition, it outlines the company’s plans for the future.
That’s our wrap-up on business writing, but we’re just beginning. Stay tuned as we delve deeper in coming issues on each of the above. Your journey to using business writing effectively is set to go. We hope you find what follows interesting, informative, and inspiring … to get you writing the “business way.”
Average sentences per paragraph: 2.80
Average words per sentence: 11.96
Average length of words: 5.21
Flesch Reading Ease: 49.82
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 9.00
Automated Readability Index: 9.00