‘Cleo, you need a comma in that sentence.’ I felt my ears turn beetroot red. I groaned internally. Experience had taught me that my face would soon follow.
It was my first day working at Write — and someone had already found out I was a fraud.
You see, I’m not naturally good at spelling or grammar. My brother Rory got great marks on spelling tests, while I vividly remember spelling Jam with a ‘G’. Working at Write was my first proper desk job. I’d never even written a business email! And quite frankly, I had no clue where to start.
The first thing you’ll learn when working at Write (or attending our workshops) is that the reader is more important than the person sending the email.
They need to be able to understand what you’re saying and what they’re meant to do next. That means you shouldn’t try and over-complicate your emails. Start with the main message and keep confusing words or technical terms to a minimum.
Always be polite and friendly — you never know who your email might be forwarded to!
A floating heading is this annoying gap between the heading and your first paragraph. They are the devil in word form. And you don’t want these if you want your writing to look professional — trust me.
Here’s how to fix this problem. There’s a cool thing called heading styles. I promise you’ll never look back — it saves so much time.
You can change your heading styles (and other things) in the top right corner of your Word document. Instead of you needing to manually change each heading to get rid of the annoying gap, they’ll all change at once! Genius. Your place probably has corporate heading styles they want you to use. And if they don’t, you might want to suggest setting some up so the whole team has a consistent look. Write can help you with this — have a chat.
We love a good em dash at Write. It’s the long dash that’s aesthetically pleasing and hard to use incorrectly. For the grammatically challenged among us, this little punctuation mark is a life saver.
Don’t tell anyone, but occasionally when I’m not sure about a comma — I’ll chuck in an em dash. Shhhh… our little secret!
One of these babies is as simple as holding Ctrl + Alt + dash. Depending on your keyboard, sometimes you’ll have to copy and paste one in from Google.
I’ve finally got this one down folks. Thanks to my colleague Helen’s little trick.
Use an E when you’re dealing with Equipment… like pens, pencils, and erasers. Which means the version where you’re standing still is the A. Simple as that!
When I first came to Write, I thought good writing was as simple as being grammatically correct.
Now I’ve realised that it’s actually more about putting your reader first. Clear, reader-friendly communication is something everyone can master if they care about it. Too often we click ‘send’, knowing our writing is confusing when a couple of extra moments could save us hours later on.
I’d like to think that now when people read my emails they can understand and act on them — and that’s what being a good business writer is all about.
You’ll find lots more writing tips on our brilliant 1-day workshop in Business Writing. Tell them I sent you!