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The Right Way to Write Business Documents
2 July 2014

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The right way to write.

Even though we live in an increasingly digital visual age, writing is still a required skill.  Although most of us have left the quill, pen and typewriter behind for the keypad, we still “write”, probably more than we have ever done.

We write emails every day and make no mistake these are business documents.  Anything you write in the course of your business day is a business document, even those notes hastily jotted own, if necessary they are submissible as forensic evidence. So, it is essential your business communications are done properly and well thought out.

First think about the audience, who are they, what will they expect, how much do they know about the content, why are you writing this?  It will focus your message on what is important and the tone of the communication.

Don’t be verbose, it is boring and your intended audience will switch off.  KISS – keep it short (and) sweet.

Don’t use jargon or acronyms and if it is impossible not to, explain them.

OK you’re ready to write, so just write, put all your thoughts down, don’t edit yourself at this point, dot points are good.  This enables you to quickly put anything you are thinking on to the page.  Do this for ten minutes, get up and walk away, well at least do something else.

While much can be written about grammar, whole books have been written on the subject, one thing is important to remember – use “active voice”.  What does it mean?  It is a short, direct way to write a sentence as opposed to waffle, for example –

The mat was sat on by the cat, or the cat sat on the mat.

It is obvious which is passive and which is active.

When you come back to edit the first draft, look for passive sentences and turn them around.  Look for words repeated too often in a sentence or paragraph – “that” is one word which is overworked and often unnecessary.  Get rid of the extras.

If possible have someone else read your document before it is sent, presented or published, before your intended audience sees the final version.  A second opinion is valuable.

If appropriate, end with a call to action, give your audience something to do with the information you have just given them.

If it is still too hard – outsource!