Effective Business Writing

How well do most people write?

Most people can write far better than they think they can

What two skills do you need to practice separately instead of together to improve the effectiveness of your writing?

Creative skills and critical skills

What's the best way to begin a piece of writing?

Brainstorm your topic.

Why is clustering helpful in thinking through a work problem before writing an e-mail or letter?

It allows many more ideas, connections, and attitudes to surface that might not occur to you if this step is omitted.

What is a good way to get answers about grammar, punctuation, and spelling?

Keep a variety of reference books at your desk and use them.

What is the WHY question?

WHY am I writing this?

Why did I ask you to pick out a topic to write on during this lesson?

To test out my theories on the job.

Why do you care who your reader is?

Because if you address issues they care about, they're more likely to cooperate.

Why does dialoguing help you understand your reader?

Dialoguing helps you think about your reader's interests by putting you in your reader's place.

What is meant by the idea that dialoguing often leads to synthesis?

Synthesis is the open-minded examination of conflicting ideas, as in a dialogue, and often leads to a merging of two points of view.

What does the WHAT question ask?

WHAT benefit can I offer my reader?

Which benefit may motivate your reader?

A free sample.

Why is the first sentence the most important part of your letter?

Because you can use it to motivate your reader to keep reading.

Why is free writing the most flexible brainstorming technique?

You can begin free writing at any point in the writing process.

In what way do the WHO and the WHAT questions overlap?

They overlap because you cannot know WHAT benefit will motivate your reader until you understand WHO your reader is.

Why is it important to sequence your document correctly?

Because good organizing or sequencing of your ideas will support your goal in writing.

What does question 4 (the HOW question) in the Four Basic Questions system refer to?

HOW should the reader proceed?

What is the best way to end a document?

Write an ending sentence that tells the reader how to proceed.

Where is a good place to thank your reader?

Try thanking the reader in the first sentence of the last paragraph.

When you don't know what else to say in your document, what should you do?


What does the process of revision involve?

Analyzing, evaluating, judging.

Which of the following can help improve the format of your document?

White space, headings, lists, a Re: line, graphics, the P.S.

What benefit arises from keeping the drafting and revision process separate?

Your creativity won't be inhibited by your critical judgment.

What primary questions do you ask when you edit your document?

Is my document accessible, accurate, and easy to understand?

If you skip the proofreading step, what will happen?

There will be errors in your document, and you will look uneducated.

How can you judge what words to use in business writing?

Ask yourself what words will communicate quickly and clearly to your reader.

Why do business writers lengthen their words, phrases, and sentences?

They think they're supposed to write that way.

When should you use jargon in business writing?

When writing coworkers.

What kind of writing tells your reader that you're a professional?

Writing that's short and simple.

What is good about using small, familiar words?

They communicate quickly and easily.

Why is it important to make a word picture for your reader?

So they can envision the same picture you have in your mind.

What should you do with an unwieldy sentence that goes on and on until your meaning is lost?

Find the most important person or thing in your sentence, and then decide what you want that person or thing to do.

Why are nouns and verbs so important?

They carry most of the meaning in your sentence.

After you've sent your document, what effective writing skills can help you make sure your reader understands what you mean?

Writing skills cannot help you after you've sent your document.

What is a good way to have fun while writing?

Write personally. Include people in your sentences.

Which sentence has the correct punctuation and spelling?

The three associations' advice on the merger was given freely.

Which sentence has the correct spelling and punctuation?

Mr. Smith's license needs to be renewed today; however, I cannot take it to the Licensing Board.

Which sentence has the correct punctuation and spelling?

The list told us exactly what we need to know: The interest rate has gone up at least two percent in all seventeen banks.

Which sentence has the correct punctuation and spelling?

Instead of laptop computers, desktop computers were the unanimous choice.

Which sentence has the correct spelling and punctuation?

Don't you find him too familiar?" the secretary asked her colleague.

Why should you use active voice instead of passive voice?

Active voice gives your sentence more impact and lets people be responsible for their actions.

How do you know when your sentence is in the passive voice?

When the noun that does the action of the verb is not the subject of the sentence.

Which of the following is the best way to deal with gender bias in business writing.

Make your noun plural so you can say they instead of he or she.

What does the concept of agreement in grammar refer to?

Subjects and verbs must agree in number. Pronouns must match their antecedents.

Which of the following shows parallel treatment of items in a series?

The staff finished all their work, cleaned off their desks, and went home for the weekend.

What three factors combine to determine the tone of your document?

Your attitude toward your own needs, your attitude toward your subject, and your attitude toward your reader.

What value does the Unsent Letter exercise have for the business writer?

It helps you purge excess emotion so you can focus on problem solving.

What strategy can help you detect unintentional mistakes in tone?

Look for all the negative words.

Why is it risky to over use the words I, me, we, our, and us in your document?

Your reader does not care about what you want; they only care about what they want.

Why is the choice of informal or formal tone fairly easy?

Because you can gauge it on the existing relationship you have with the person you're writing.

What is your goal in writing a letter that says "no"?

To tell your readers "no" without alienating them.

What is different about letters that say "no"?

No letters are longer.

Which of the following should you do in a no letter?

Give the reasons for the denial.

What can you skip in a bad news memo to a co-worker?

Skip the neutral opening and brief introduction of the topic.

What good are the Four Basic Questions in writing no letters?

They help you organize your thinking when you have to say "no.

How is e-mail different from other kinds of business writing?

It is faster and less expensive.

Which of the following choices is true about the tone of your e-mail?

Colleagues expect your e-mail to sound like you do when you talk.

What is the best way to write e-mail?

Carefully, asking yourself the four basic questions of WHY, WHO, WHAT, and HOW.

Which of the following is a good practice in e-mail?

Put your message in the subject line if possible.

How can you avoid legal trouble with e-mail documents?

Follow your company's document retention schedule for e-mail, as well as other paper documents.