Guide to Writing and
Editing Business Communication
Listing and Ranking Goals
Deciding on format
Reviewing checklist and format
Cutting unnecessary info
Review the Don'ts
Reviewing for Grammar and Mechanics
1. List all the things you want your letter to
accomplish. (No more than 3 or 4).
2. Rank those things in order of importance.
3. Decide whether your letter should be a
direct request, a good-news or good-will letter, a bad-news letter, or
a persuasive letter.
4. Review the checklist and format of the
letter you've selected. Remember the basics:
5. After you write the letter, start cutting. Cut
all unnecessary information.
2) Explanation and Details
3) Courteous Close (make your wishes clear and their response easy)
Good News or Good Will:
1) Good News
3) Courteous close
1) Buffer (use the standards!)
2) Reasons First leading up to
3) Bad News expressed in positive terms and/or subordinated grammatically
4) Courteous close that does not apologize, invite feedback, or refer to
bad news again
1) Attention (use the standards!)
2) Interest (Details of first section)
3)Desire (incentives, special offers, promo materials)
4)Action (describe what you want to happen, and make it easy for reader
a. Information reader needs to know in order to comply with or
6. Review the "don'ts" of your checklist and
remove anything inappropriate. Always avoid these phrases:
b. Psychologically necessary information (goodwill messages,
salutations, buffers, reasons first, thanks)
c. Reader benefit information (especially in persuasive or negative
d. Authoritative strategies and/ or emotional strategies (especially
a. Apologies (unless you are writing an apology letter, and then minimize
7. Start simplifying sentences. Remove or
rewrite all expletives, passive constructions, "this is to inform you"'s,
"we are pleased to announce"'s, big words, and long sentences. Try to replace
the words "is," "was," "are," "were," etc. with action verbs. Try NOT to
begin sentences with participial phrases (seeing that, being that, Upon
viewing, etc.) Remember, simple and direct is good.
b. Hedges: Expressions of doubt or uncertainty (I hope, I trust, I
believe, I feel, etc.)
c. Empty phrases ("interesting situation," "a definite experience,"
"a unique event,")
d. Insincere praise or promises you can't honor
e. Illegal statements or questions
f. Attributing blame
g. Libel (written expressions which negatively present any individual
or organization, unless they express provable facts)
h. Threats (except at the end of a collection sequence)
8. Look for missed opportunities to subtly promote, boast, take credit,
9. Check your grammar, your spelling (don't
rely on spell checkers alone), and your punctuation.
10. Look at your format. Have you used letter
or memo appropriately? Have you used block format (see appendix of B &
T book)? Are your tabs and margins consistent and even? Have you
shifted fonts unexpectedly? Have you initialed the memo or signed the letter?
11. Have you spelled your name and your reader's name (both individual
and company) correctly?
12. NOW Ask a reader you respect to
review your letter. Ask if the tone is positive, respectful, and confident,
the information clear, the presentation attractive, and the grammar good.