Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Business writing tips

Whether writing a newsletter or a business proposal, your writing says a lot about your professionalism.  In this day and age of email and texting short hand, proper grammar can set you above all others.  Proofreading important documents can help ensure that current or potential customers will see past words and punctuation and hear your message.  Here are a few proofreading and grammar tips:

  1. Spelling – proofread by reading the words in reverse order.  In doing this, your mind doesn’t fill in the gaps of the words; it sees individual words instead of complete thoughts.  This helps to catch spelling errors.
  2. Pause – after proofreading a document, set it down and come back to it after a break.  Taking a fresh look at your writing will give you a chance to see things that were overlooked in the heat of the writing.
  3. Homonyms and the like:
    1. “their” means someone owns something; “they’re” means they are; and “there” refers to directionality
    2. “two” is a number; “too” means also; “to” is a preposition usually leading up to a clarification of something
    3. “sale” is when something is for sale, or having a sale; “sell” is when you are trying to sell something;  and “sailing” is a leisure sport (unless you’re off the coast of Africa)
    4. “your” is another ownership reference; “you’re” means you are
  4. Commas and decimals – always double check commas and decimal places in numbers.  As a seller, you would be none too pleased to realize you proposed to sell something for $100.000 instead of $100,000.  While you might be covered legally, professionalism is key.
  5. Extra eyes – when in doubt, have someone else proofread your document.  When you are deep into the idea you are trying to express, writing errors can be easily overlooked.  Having someone else look over your writing can catch errors that you are too involved to notice.
Proposals and newsletters can fall flat for any number of reasons.  Don’t let proofreading be one of them.

John Robert Voynich, CPA