There’s no more incredible feeling than finishing that extensive report you’ve been working so hard on. All your research, writing, and long hours will pay off once you hit send and email it to your boss and co-workers.
That is, unless it’s full of spelling errors, omissions, grammatical mistakes, and other writing blunders that will lower the quality of your work and ruin all the effort you’ve put in.
How can you avoid such a mess?
Simple: Before you submit your work, run through this editing checklist for business writing.
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1. Did You Repeat Yourself?
Word repetition is a sign of lazy writing and will quickly stand out to your reader. Once your reader starts noticing the same word repeatedly, that’s all they notice. Use your word processor functions to see if you have overused words.
Also, ensure you aren’t making the same point repeatedly. If you have written your statement correctly, saying it once should suffice.
2. Are You Using the Active Voice?
Most of the time, you’ll want to use the active voice in your writing.
The only documents written in passive voice are usually scientific papers, which tend to be challenging to understand and (to be honest) uninteresting for most readers.
- When you use passive voice, the subject receives action by the verb. (The yarn is being played with by the cat.)
- When you use the active voice, the subject acts upon the verb. (The cat plays with the yarn.)
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3. Have You Avoided Using Clichés?
In most writing, especially business writing, avoid using clichés like the plague (see what I did there?). Readers get annoyed by these overused expressions or roll their eyes every time they read them.
Here are some typical business clichés to avoid:
- Think outside the box.
- It’s a win-win situation.
- Grab the low-hanging fruit.
- It is what it is.
- Do more with less.
- This is in our wheelhouse.
- A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
4. Can You Be More Specific?
Details make your writing more real. The more information your readers have, the more they can relate to what you say.
Specificity also makes your business writing more engaging.
Think of any great novel you’ve read and how the author took pains to set the scene and describe the characters. More description equals more engagement.
Many writers make the mistake of leaving things to the readers’ imagination or trusting that they will get your point. Being vague can be problematic because your readers might fill in details you didn’t intend.
The more specific you can be with your writing, the fewer questions you will have to answer afterward.
Ensuring your business writing is as perfect and professional as possible is vital to your successful and well-received project. Get extra assurance by having your business writing professionally proofread and edited by the experts at Super Copy Editors. Get started with a free, personalized quote today.
5. Did You Write Numbers Correctly?
Business writing often includes a lot of numbers. But did you know there are general rules to follow when it comes to using numbers?
Here are some basic style guidelines for numbers in business writing:
- Spell out any numbers that begin a sentence. For example, “Fifteen customers expressed interest in purchasing the premium package.”
- If the number is large and requires many words, rearrange the sentence so the number isn’t first. For example, “There were 1,232 customers who expressed interest in the premium package.”
- Use numerals in decimals, money, fractions, percentages, time of day, statistics, scores, addresses, and measurements, and when numbers follow symbols. For example, “The most common pipe length we sell is 34.5 feet and costs $500.”
6. Are Your Sentences Clear and Concise?
People tend to add unnecessary words to their writing to try to add flair or make themselves sound more intelligent. In the writing world, this is “fluff.”
Aim for conciseness and clarity rather than long and winding sentences that don’t add value to the reader. This also means watching for redundancies such as:
- Exact same
- Close scrutiny
- Small in size
- True facts
- Basic fundamentals
- Sending off
Additionally, avoid using the word “very.” Something cannot be “very unique,” and you can use a thesaurus to find other words for “very cold” (freezing), “very good” (excellent), etc.
Your objective is to say the most you can in the fewest words.
7. Has Someone Else Looked It Over?
A second set of eyes looking over your work is essential before sending your business writing to your audience. It is much easier for someone else to spot your errors than for you.
Make sure you have someone you trust to read your work. The critical word in that sentence is trust. Taking constructive criticism from this person means you must have confidence in their judgment and expertise.
Don’t Miss: 11 Topics Any Business Can Use in Its Writing
8. Have You Taken a Break After Writing?
A typical mistake made in business writing is not taking a break before revising and submitting any work.
When you are writing about your project, you are immersing yourself in it. Your brain may form complete ideas in your head that haven’t quite connected in your writing. So distance yourself from your work to ensure it will make sense to others—and not just to you.
Taking a break for even an hour may give you enough distance from your writing so you can revisit it with objectivity.
And by the way, taking breaks is also good for your health.
9. Have You Backed Up Your Work?
Before you send your business writing on its merry way, you need to create a backup of your work.
There’s no telling what could happen between you sending it and the recipient getting it. Too many people have lost days’ or weeks’ worth of work because of a computer glitch, which could have been avoided with a backup.
These days, creating automatic backups has never been easier. With quick and simple access to cloud technology like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and more, there’s simply no excuse for not having a backup.
10. Did You Check Spelling and Grammar?
So your document has no blue squiggles or red lines anywhere. That means it’s error-free, right?
Wrong! Those computer programs are OK for catching a few mistakes, but they miss more than you think.
Read your document over carefully and read it out loud—no, really. A writing style that resembles a speaking style is much more easily digestible for your readers, and errors are easier to hear than see.
Don’t forget! Download “10 Things You Should Check Before Submitting Business Writing” to keep it handy and take action on it. Click here to download it now.
Although computer spelling and grammar programs have their place, they cannot catch the meaning, nuance, humor, tone, emphasis, and many other elements of your writing that only a human can understand.
The truth is, there’s no substitute for the trained eye of a skilled copy editor.
The team at Super Copy Editors specializes in editing and proofreading business writing. Get your free, personalized quote to have our editors review your document to ensure success.