Best Practices in Business Writing

Our last blog, “Organization in Writing” was very well received. Thanks for your responses. In this blog we hope to explain few things about the writing process itself.

Writing process consists of four main stages as follows

  1. Data collection
  2. Pre-writing
  3. Writing
  4. Editing

Data collection

In this age of Information, data is single most valued commodity. We are always exposed to information. However, collecting, storing and using right information at appropriate stages is the key to effective writing. In this stage, you focus entirely on data collection, which you may find useful later. Hence, you are constantly in this stage, keeping your eyes and ears open for information on interesting topics. Following can be very effective sources:

  1. Books
  2. News
  3. Blogs
  4. Social Media
  5. Radio
  6. Discussions/ Meetings
  7. Interviews

Pre-writing

Pre-writing stage comes as and when you decide to pen down your thoughts on paper. It starts with brainstorming on the topic. Brainstorming is a quick way to generate a lot of ideas on a subject. The purpose is to make a list of as many ideas as possible without worrying about how you will use them. Your brainstorming diagram may include words, phrases, sentences or even questions.

To brainstorm, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by writing a topic in a rectangular box.
  2. Write down as many ideas about the topic as you can in 5 minutes.
  3. Add more items to your list by answering the questions what, how, when, where, why and who.
  4. Group similar ideas.
  5. Understand relations like cause-effect, consequences, lists, examples, advantages / disadvantages etc. between the ideas and mark them.
  6. Think of relevant examples especially if you are writing an essay.
  7. Check for relevancy with audience, subject boundaries and occasion.

bUSINESS WritngAbove image shows brainstorming diagram.

Writing

Outcome of previous activity acts as guideline at this stage. From childhood, an idea of havinga great start to the essay is imbibed in your mind. Let us tell you good news; it is alright to have an average start. Focus on the writing all considered points first. During editing stage you may revise your introduction. We will discuss “Parts of writing” in next week.

Write relentlessly without stopping. Frequent checking and stopping in between for corrections, breaks the flow. Also, if you stop in between, your mind might be diverted to related issues. You lose focus, which in turn results in loss of concentration. Repeated interruptions make you blind to your own mistakes, which lead to erroneous writing and ultimately frustration.

While writing, guidelines given in our previous blog “Organization in writing” can be very useful. You may also choose to use following guidelines,

  1. Start writing relentlessly.
  2. Do not waste time correcting yourself at this stage. You have next stage to correct yourself.
  3. Remember to use following orders while writing to sound more logical
  4. Order of Organization by Grouping
  5. Organization by Time
  6. Organization by Order of Importance
  7. Organization by Space

Editing

At the end of previous stage you have yourself, few ideas jotted down on your computer screen. Now, start proof-reading your written piece.

  1. While reading, look for logical sense. Ask yourself,
    1. Did I cover all points?
    2. Did I write them in logical fashion?
    3. Did I use appropriate order?
  2. Next, look for clarity of concepts. Many people like to believe that the more complex they write, better they sound. Please make sure one sentence is used for one idea. Don’t write sentences having multiple ideas. They only confuse your readers.
  3. Once this part is taken care of, we advise you to look for grammatical mistakes and correct them. Check for consistency of tenses, dates, persons and subject-verb confirmation.

We hope this blog helps to organize your writing better. These tips are valid for Business Writing, GRE, IELTS and TOEFL. You may visit us here, to know more about Business English course.

Organization in Writing

Writing is a type of communication, usually with standard structure and style. It addresses the needs of audiences and has prose and lists for a particular area that concerns business. Writing is very important in all phases of one’s life, as it creates an image of writer in the reader’s mind. A person with excellent writing skills unknowingly earns respect of his peers and looked upon as a sincere employee by the seniors. Now many may complain that writing is a tedious task. Yes writing is difficult, but good news is that it can be learnt and practiced.

Through series of blogs, we are going to take a short course in written communication.

One of the most important parts of writing is organization of the ideas. Proper organization of the ideas help, people paint a mental picture of written communication. It helps in understanding and eventually evaluating an idea. Ideas can be organized based on many criteria. Following are few important ones

  1. Organization by Grouping
  2. Organization by Time
  3. Organization by Order of Importance
  4. Organization by Space

Organization by Grouping

Ideas in writing can be organized by grouping them in relevant groups. Such grouping helps reader paint a mental picture of what is being described about. Clearer the list of groups, better is the mental picture. For instance, while describing countries, reader would be disturbed to see any cities mentioned in same line. To explain the point further, look at following paragraph.

For example

It is interesting to visit foreign countries. You can meet new people. You can eat different kinds of food. It is expensive. You can see the way other people live.

In the above paragraph, all ideas are relevant with main idea, ‘It is interesting to visit foreign countries’ except the idea that ‘It is expensive’ which in fact is a counterpoint of the main idea.

Organization by Time

Time sequence or chronology explains an important role in writing or reporting events. It gives a factual account of incidents in a way which can be easily understood and examined.

For example

I had a terrible Sunday. First I woke up an hour late because my alarm clock in mobile failed as mobile was discharged. Then, I was in such a hurry that I burned my hand when I was making breakfast. After breakfast, I rushed for the Soccer practice. I really feel that everyone should play soccer in life. As I reached the bus stop, I realized, I had forgotten my wallet at my desk. I literally sprinted back home and collected the wallet. I had to wait for 20 minutes as bus frequency on Sunday is comparatively rare. By the time I reached the ground, my friends were almost half way through the practice. My coach was angry. After practice, on my way back, I first went to supermarket to buy groceries and then to laundry to pick up my clothes.

As can be seen while, reading above paragraph, the sentence, ‘I really feel that everyone should play soccer in life’ distracts the attention. Other sentences build a nice account of unfortunate Sunday of the author.

Signal Words

First

Second

Then

Next

Before

After

As

Later

finally

Organization by order of importance

It is very important to recognize order of importance while discussing events, logical ideas, consequence, lists etc. This arrangement allows reader to rate the important points at start.

For example

There are many ways to learn a new language. The best way is to talk with native speakers. One way is to spend a lot of time watching television and listening to the radio. Another way is to take classes at a language school or university.

As can be seen, if ways of learning languages are arranged in order of importance, it is very easy to recognize best practices to learn a new language.

Signal Words

First of all

Second

For one thing

The next + noun

Also

In addition

Another + noun

Moreover

Most important + noun

Organization by Space

When you describe space, you use space order to explain where things are located. The easiest way to do this is to choose starting point. Then you describe where things are located with respect to previously described thing.

For example

My bedroom is a special place. Like most rooms, it is a rectangle. When you walk in the door, the first thing you notice is the large window on the back wall. It has a beautiful view of the garden.

Signal Words

On

Besides

In front of

In corner

Above

Next to

Both sides

Left hand

Below

We hope this blog helps to organize your writing better. These tips are valid for Business Writing, GRE, IELTS and TOEFL. You may visit us here, to know more about Business English course.