The 4 types of business writing and 8 tips for writing well

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business writing is a form of communication that's quite different from conventional writing. Most writing in business has a specific purpose, and it's important to value the reader's time. Individuals who write business messages try to convey relevant information in a concise format effectively and efficiently, often relying on different forms of communication, such as client proposals, emails and notices. In this article, we explain what business writing is, its different types and give tips on how to write well.

What is business writing?

Business writing is communicating business concepts, ideas and performance through written words. Professionals often use different formats, from memos to emails and reports, to convey their message. Writing for business typically differs from conventional writing, since the latter focuses more on pragmatism. The main purpose is to enable the reader to take action or to learn something.

Before writing a business message, the writer first defines their reader and the purpose of the message. They start the message after a formal introduction, providing the information that the reader requires. When providing the necessary information, the writer also ensures that they organise it properly and write it concisely and engagingly. Maintaining grammatical correctness is also important. Otherwise, the message seems unprofessional.

Related: Understanding the four main writing styles

4 types of business writing

Here are four main types of business writing:

1. Persuasive

Persuasive writing is a form of writing where the writer tries to persuade the reader and aims to influence their decision by impressing their point upon the reader. To impress this point, the writer provides relevant information, often about a product, a company or a service. Persuasive writing is popular in sales and marketing, where the writer tries to convince the reader to make a purchase or take action. A common example of persuasive writing is a business proposal.

The service provider prepares a proposal for the client to review, explaining their value proposition and how their services can help the client. Another example is a press release, in which a company presents to the public about releasing a new product or announcing a new service. The primary aim is to convince the reader to act in a specific way.

Related: 6 persuasive techniques to strengthen your writing

2. Instructional

Instructional writing provides instructions and directions to guide a reader through the different steps required for them to complete a task. A prime example of instructional writing is a user manual. User manuals provide comprehensive instructions about performing specific tasks and often include images to illustrate the process better. Instructional writing also includes memos companies issue to employees, often supplying details on how to complete a specific task.

Instructional writing is an important part of business communication, as companies use it to establish standard operating procedures. When onboarding a new employee, companies can provide instructional documents and manuals so that the employee knows exactly how to perform specific tasks. It simplifies the process and reduces excess supervision, ultimately improving and allowing employees to understand different processes much faster.

3. Transactional

Transactional writing refers to regular communication in the workplace. This includes conventional businesses, most of which relate to transactions, such as asking an employee to do something or requesting a particular document. The bulk of transactional writing occurs via email, but in some cases, it includes invoices, forms and official memos or letters sent to different employees.

4. Informational

The primary objective of informational writing is to record business information as accurately as possible while maintaining consistency. Informational writing relates to the company's core functions, outlining plans for tracking performance, evaluating growth and ensuring compliance with regulations and local laws. An example of informational writing is the income statement or a company's financial statement.

Informational writing is important; companies often use it to track performance and determine growth. The minutes of a meeting, an inventory report or an evaluation by a third party are all common examples of informational writing.

8 tips for writing well

Here are eight tips for writing well and improving your business communication skills:

1. Maintain clarity

Clarity is an important quality in business communication, and it's important for writers to ensure that they keep their target readers in mind. It's also important for them to maintain clarity of thought so that they can convey their core message to the reader through their writing. This is important and helps them add direction to their writing while improving structure and flow.

2. Eliminate jargon from your writing

The core purpose of business writing is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to understand your message. Maintaining a simple writing style is important and makes it easy for readers to understand your core message. Effective communicators try to reduce jargon or eliminate it altogether if possible. Buzzwords and acronyms don't deliver the right impact and may alienate readers. More importantly, if you're writing the message for a specific type of reader who doesn't understand industry-specific jargon, there's a chance that they may not understand the document at all.

Related: Business jargon examples (with tips on when to use them)

3. Use contractions when you can

There has been a significant shift in the manner of writing for businesses in the past several years, with writing becoming more accessible and comprehensible instead of excessively formal. When you can, use contractions to improve the flow of your writing. But it's important to keep the context in mind. In some cases, not using contractions may make your writing more persuasive, so if that's the result you want, you can choose not to use them.

4. Revise your work

Before you send an email or an important report or publish a piece of content, revising it is always a good thing. Reading your work aloud can often help you identify important amendments required, such as missed words or gaps. You may consider having a colleague review the work if it's an important document. Constructive feedback can help you improve your writing.

5. Practice your writing

Writing for business requires considerable practice, since it's about maintaining clarity and paying attention to sentence structure and vocabulary. This means practising the way you write and reading other business documents. This can help you develop a strong instinct for writing for different audiences. Practice is important if you want to grow as a communicator and eventually pursue a career in writing, especially as a marketer.

Related: Understand communication barriers (with examples and tips)

6. Use active voice

Using active voice in your communication is also important, as it's easier to comprehend. It helps make your writing more articulate. It also reduces ambiguity in your writing and makes it clearer and easier for other stakeholders to understand.

Active voice makes your writing tighter and helps you focus on the main subject in your sentences. It also makes sentences simpler and less complicated for the average reader to understand. In many cases, passive voice can cloud the core message from your business document. Using active voice helps ensure you convey your point immediately.

7. Use a simple font

Presentation is quite important when writing for specific audiences, so it's necessary that you use a simple and legible font. Simple fonts like Helvetica or Calibri are a good choice; another alternative is Inter. They are clear and relatively easy to understand and read across different devices. Typography is an important part of presenting information properly and can improve your writing considerably.

Related: What is typography? Importance and practical applications

8. Make your document scannable

Business executives prefer documents that are easy to scan and convey the core message immediately. Instead of writing large chunks of text and paragraphs, a better option is to use a set of bullet points or create a numerical list. It's also helpful to use headings and keep your paragraphs short, around three or four sentences. You can use bold formatting to direct attention to a particular point as it's an effective way to highlight and identify important points. .

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