Business Writing Errors That Cause Big Problems
Your sales pitches may be winning, your presentations inspiring, and your leadership skills unparalleled, but if you can’t write, you’ll encounter problems in your professional life. Writing is an integral part of any business, whether you’re crafting web copy, emailing clients, or drafting contracts.
Too often, business professionals underestimate the impact of glaring grammatical errors in the workplace. Because much of your business writing is permanent, it has a greater impact on your professional image than do your spoken words.
Below, we’ve listed the six business writing errors that most commonly cause big problems in the workplace.
1. Writing in the passive voice
Business professionals often favor the passive voice to avoid assigning blame or accountability. However, relying too heavily on the passive voice can make your writing confusing. You can eliminate the passive voice and write more succinctly by including actors for the verbs in your sentences. For instance, instead of “The case was filed on time,” write “HR filed the case on time.”
2. Using male pronouns exclusively
You may have done it without even realizing it, but you can end up alienating readers if you use male pronouns exclusively. You can avoid sexism and bias by using “he or she,” in your writing or by casting sentences in the plural with “they.” Alternatively, you can switch back and forth between male and female pronouns from paragraph to paragraph.
3. Mixing up homophones
When it comes to words you may have learned in the second grade, readers can be quite critical. Take special care not to mix up the common homophones below:
- Your, you’re
- Its, it’s
- To, two, too
- Their, there, they’re
- Except, accept
- Complement, compliment
- Affect, effect
4. Failing to capitalize and punctuate properly
While it might be acceptable in a text message, failing to capitalize and punctuate properly in workplace communication can make you look careless and lazy.
Check out the following unprofessional sentence:
i will call u after lunch will u be free
Now compare it to this one, with correct grammar and punctuation:
I’ll call you after lunch. Will you be free?
5. Using excessive punctuation
Multiple exclamation points (!!!) and question marks (???) can send the wrong message, as can entire words in uppercase. In almost all workplace writing, using these devices is inappropriate, even if you’re trying to convey excitement or urgency.
6. Failing to proofread
Before sending out an email, publishing a document, or sharing a memo, be sure to proofread it carefully. You should always have another set of eyes proofread important pieces of writing before you submit them.