According to studies done by students of several U.S. business schools, there are at least 11 common business writing errors. The list can be longer than this, and we’re inviting you to add to it.
Here are the 11 common issues and their solutions. While most of them can be caught by popular word processing software, like Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Writer, and OpenOffice Writer, a professional editing app like ProWritingAid would find most of them and more. It provides suggestions on stylistic issues as well.
1. Lack of focus.
Every piece of writing should focus on one primary idea, which can stand alone or accompanied by multiple secondary ideas. If it’s a memo, clearly explain what the message is about in the introductory paragraph. If it’s a report, describe its purpose and who the target readers are, before presenting the items of discussion.
2. Lack of structure.
Business writing should be clear and concise. It has a strong focus, and the pointers are presented with clarity. Develop an introduction-body-conclusion structure as the framework ready to be filled in.
Refrain from including unrelated information and oversharing. Every sentence must have one subject and one predicate. And every paragraph must have one central idea, which is reflected in the primary sentence. Other sentences support the primary one.
4. Spelling errors.
Such errors can be typos or the result of a genuine lack of understanding. Make sure to turn your word processor’s spelling check function on and have a proofreader reading it before submitting your work.
5. Grammatical errors.
While popular wordprocessing software can catch many basic grammatical errors, using an editing app with up-to-date machine learning algorithms like ProWritingAid is far superior. Your work will be compared with other people’s works, including top-notch projects, so you will always receive suggestions that guide you to level up.
6. Punctuation errors
Some of the common punctuation errors include extraneous apostrophes, unnecessary quotation marks, missing commas, too many commas, excess exclamation, it’s versus its, the Oxford comma, hyphen versus dash, semi-colons versus colons, and quotation mark placement. Popular wordprocessing software does help, but a professional editing app provides more comprehensive suggestions due to its advanced machine learning technology.
7. Capitalization problems.
Most people remember to capitalize the first letter of a sentence in uppercase. Other than this, some nouns require a capital letter, which can be quite confusing. In general, capitalize the first letter of the name of a person, a company, days of the week and months, holidays, institutions, book and movie titles, the name of a place, and other official names. Capitalization rules are pretty simple, but sometimes we simply forget them.
8. Pronoun agreement errors.
If the subject is a singular noun, the pronoun should be he/she/it, not they. Thus, if you want to use “they,” change the subject to a plural noun. An editing software should be able to pinpoint this accurately.
Many business reports and memos include typical business cliches, like “at the end of the day,” “it is what it is,” “take it to the next level,” “win-win situation,” “think outside the box,” “touch base,” “a no-brainer,” “reinvent the wheel,” and “24/7.” You want your business writing to be expressed in simple and powerful words, as cliches evolve into empty fillers without any meaning. Use a thesaurus or a comprehensive editing app to locate synonyms.
10. Passive voice.
Passive sentences are wordy and project an image of passivity. In the business world, being active is crucial, so use active voice in most of your sentences. You want active sentences that move stories along, which are clearer.
11. Technical jargons and acronyms.
If the business report is intended to be read by engineers, technical jargons and industry acronyms are acceptable. However, if it’s a general memo, limit terms and abbreviations that are commonly used in the company only. Other than those, use plain, common, and simple terms and choices of words.
Whether you’re writing a report, a memo, a newsletter article, a white paper, an e-book, or an e-mail, make sure to double check it with a professional editing app like ProWritingAid. With its 25 reports, you can have a peace of mind that the project is completed more than satisfactorily.
About the Author
Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is also a digital strategist for several e-commerce and app companies. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Business.com, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, Positively Positive, and others. Her blog is JenniferXue.com.