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How To Develop A Business Document
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Error proof, clear and concise business documentation is a risk management strategy. Errors in business documents can cost from millions due to loss of potential clients. Your documentation is a communication process that defines your business quality and standards. After all, are your products the same standard as your business documents?
Make sure your document message is clear and succinct and if you have a grammar phobia; build a bridge. Here are a few basic strategies but you will need to pay the same care and attention to your documents as you do to your business products.
Consider your writing process and be organised.
• Know what it is you want to write about and the points you want to make
• Do a flow chart or maybe dot points and subheadings
• Gather your evidence and be across all your information.
• Know how long you want your article to be and who the target audience is
• Consider the reading level of your readers as you may have to adjust your writing style.
Consider the writing
• Use a warm and friendly tone and talk directly to your reader
• Write in simple words avoiding all formal expressions, jargon and industry talk.
• Use active voice. 'The survey is due in on Friday' rather than 'the survey should be completed and is required on my desk by Friday'.
• Put your subject at the start of the sentence, it will help keeping your reader interested.
• Make sure each sentence has a subject, verb and an object.
• Sentences should be less than 30 words in length. Otherwise you risk making them too complex and rambling.
• Humour can be risky. Probably best to leave your humour outside your business documentation. Emails in particular, don't like humour. In fact, more people get upset with email humour in the office than any other factor.
Get to the point
• Don't bury your key message in the middle or towards the end of your document. Most likely you will have lost your reader by that time anyway. Their expectations will have been accumulating as they read your document, and so they won't be happy finding your most likely unpopular or negative message buried.
• Format your points if need be by dot points or sub points or use headings.
• Make your document logical and let it flow, developing your argument or case as you deliver your message.
• Use white space to create calmness in your document.
• Left justification works best for readability.
• Avoid blocks of bold and italics.
• Use a business font like Arial, Calibri or Veranda and use one front throughout your document.
• Sign off with a tone similar to the tone in your document. Some people find an extremely friendly sign-off after a very formal letter quite irritating. Similarly, a formal sign-off after a casual letter can be quite irritation as well. Consistency is the key.
Write like you mean to continue your relationship with your readers. A good relationship demands good communication including the written ones. Good luck.
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