Business writing can be a tricky skill to master. Knowing whether to write professionally or casually depends on your company and your audience. But there are certain writing habits that should be avoided by all businesses.
We’ve seen them time and time again.
Don’t be like the other businesses… stop making these writing mistakes.
Mistake #1: Overcomplicating your language
We get it. Writing sophisticated, complex sentences might have been what you were taught throughout university. But essays are not effective in real world communication. Unless you’re a scholar or a poet, you shouldn’t be overcomplicating your writing. Swap words like 'ascertain' for the more simple version like 'learn'. Break your sentences in half and get to the point. The clearer you can be the better, and conciseness is your new best friend.
Writing in plain English is the most effective way to get your message across and keep your audience engaged. You won’t impress your readers with your ability to use a thesaurus. If it's not the most accurate word or simplest explanation, don’t use it.
Mistake #2: Writing in American English (if you're in Australia)
Although your Macbook or iPhone is insistent that colour is spelt without the ‘u’, you need to avoid going along with American English. Most English speaking countries use UK spelling. Unless you’re selling to Americans, you should be too.
If you’re operating in Australia and your customers are Australian, don’t make the mistake of using American English. It looks bad and annoys people.
Mistake #3: Using jargon
You might use jargon in your immediate team but your business speak means nothing to your clients. If your writing is filled with acronyms, industry terms and company phrases, you are instantly excluding a large chunk of your audience. Aside from being irritating to your readers, it also takes them longer to understand.
They might even lose motivation to keep reading – the last thing you want is to lose readers along the way.
Mistake #4: Writing in a passive voice
This is one you might have heard before and struggled with: stop writing in a passive voice. It’s worth learning and practicing, as using an active voice instead will make your writing stronger and clearer.
A passive voice is writing that has the verb being done by the subject...
The excellent service was appreciated by the customer.
An active voice on the other hand, describes the subject doing the verb...
The customer appreciated the excellent service.
As you can see, using a passive voice makes your writing vague, and unnecessarily complex.
Mistake #5: Using plurals to describe companies
Although you think of a company as a combination of people, companies are singular. A company name is a collective noun, and because you are talking about the group acting as a singular unit, you describe them with a singular verb.
For example, instead of:
Mint Content have had a successful year. They have achieved a lot in 2017.
Mint Content has had a successful year. It has achieved a lot in 2017.
Unless you are talking about the individuals in the team, you are referring to the company as a singular entity.
Mistake #6: Forgetting to check grammar
When your average Joe makes a grammar mistake, a handful of people might scoff. When a business makes a grammar mistake, it’s embarrassing and unprofessional.
It is crucial that in your internal and external business communication your grammar is flawless. Clue yourself in on punctuation, syntax, capitalisation and spelling. Download a grammar tool like Grammarly or Hemingway if you need some extra help. Making these mistakes affects your business’ credibility, and shows that you lack attention to detail.
For tips on how to improve your business writing, read our article: simple ways to instantly improve your business writing.
If you would prefer to have the experts step in and write brilliant copy for you, drop us a line by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.