It’s not difficult to spot a weak writer in the workplace.
Writing is unavoidable in many jobs. Think of all the emails, reports and performance reviews written each day—many opportunities for someone to gauge your writing.
But making common writing mistakes raises a red flag about your writing skills. If you’ve committed these errors, it’s likely that your peers have taken note. Review this list and cut these errors out of your business writing:
1. “Here’s some”
This is a fairly common phrase, as in, “Here’s some data from our customer analytics report.” This is incorrect, because “here’s” means “here is.” The correct version is “Here are some,” because you’re referring to multiple pieces of data, which dictates “are” in place of “is.”
2. Compliment vs. complement
These two words have different meanings. I often see them both used to mean “to go well with.” Compliment refers to praise, “I complimented him on his work.” Complement means to harmonize with, “The marketing materials complemented the company branding.”
3. Long-winded sentences
Even in a business setting, you should aim to write like Hemingway. Write short sentences and simple words. Why? Because people are busy, and they don’t want to waste time poring over complex sentences. Get right to the point and make your writing easy to understand. Need help? Use the Hemingway app to see where to improve.
4. Passive voice
Passive voice means the receiver of an action is the subject of the sentence. It looks like this: The P&L was reviewed by leaders. Always write in the active voice, in which the person taking action is the subject. So, instead: Leaders reviewed the P&L. This adds clarity and sounds authoritative.
Business writing filled with buzzwords and jargon puts a wall up between you and your readers. It can confuse them. It may sound professional, but it’s likely your readers won’t appreciate the lingo. Lose the buzzwords and write plainly and succinctly.
6. i.e. and e.g.
Poor writers use these abbreviations interchangeably. They have different meanings. The first, i.e., Latin for “id est,” means “that is.” It is used to re-state an idea or fact for clarity, for better understanding (like “in other words”). The second, e.g., short for “exempli gratia,” means “for example,” to indicate that what follows is a particular example of the generality just stated. Use i.e. to summarize and re-state an idea and e.g. to list examples.
If you cut these errors out of your business writing practices, you’ll be on the path to better writing in no time–and your co-workers will stop nitpicking your reports and emails.