Need Help With That Business Document?

December 9, 2014 | Kathryn

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  Cat on top of laptop keyboard

Photo by Roger H. Goun.  Licensed under a creative commons attribution license

Does the thought of writing a business document make you want to flop on the couch with a bag of Cheetos and watch bad reality television?  If so, you're not alone. One of the most common requests we get in the business department is for help with basic writing skills.

This is understandable; apart from physical meetings with people in the business world, written communication is our chief method of contact.  When we are not on hand to speak for ourselves, our writing speaks for us.

Many people believe correspondence must be sophisticated and complex, when in fact the opposite is true. The key to effective business communication is to keep things simple and to the point.  You don't need to be William Shakespeare to learn writing techniques that will make a good impression.

While books may be helpful for beginning writers, the library also offers an online resource called Core Skills For Business Writing that walks you through the process of creating resumes, cover letters, e-mails, reports, letters and more from the comfort of your home.

One of the things I like about this program is it prompts you to think about who will be reading your document and, therefore, how to write for your specific "audience".  Interactive exercises help you learn vocabulary and appropriate writing styles and to organize your ideas clearly and logically.

The database also provides samples of finished cover letters and resumes and offers handy rules to guide you through the process of creating your own professional documents. 

One of the most important features of good business writing is the tone of the document.  You don't want your intent to be misconstrued because of poor word choices.  Core Skills for Business Writing addresses this with explanations about the differences between formal and informal correspondence. It also gives advice about how to avoid unintentionally sexist language and provides alternatives to gender-specific words. 

Finally, because all businesses have to deal with dissatisfied customers at some point, our on-line program provides samples of appropriately-worded responses to complaint letters.

So while it would be nice if the cat could write it for you, you're much more likely to get that document written with the help of our handy online database

Note: This is a flash-based database that is not accessible to mobile devices. 

* Budding business writers may also be interested in some of our print and ebooks:

Business style handbook  Business Writing for Dummies How to write reports and proposals A pratical guide to business writing