Business Writing: Be Clear

Business Writing: Be Clear


Business Writing: Be Clear

Clarity in your business documents is essential. If your message isn’t clear, how are clients going to know what you can do for them? How are colleagues going to know what you need them to do?

Recently, I encountered this sentence in a document:

Operational staff are supported to use approaches and strategies to improve the way they interact and communicate with consumers to ensure communications are less complicated or difficult to understand.

Now, to the writers of that sentence, the meaning was probably clear. They understood what they were talking about. The rest of us? Not so much. It simply isn’t clear, because it’s wordy, long, abstract – and it waffles.

It’s easy to write this way – in fact, most of us do it, at least on our first drafts. Often, when we read our own work, we can’t see where the confusion lies. We’re too close. Having editing strategies helps you get the necessary distance from your work to fix what’s not clear..[/vc_column_text]


Here are five of those strategies.

  • Keep the language simple. Express your message without flourishes. Jargon (specialist words) can actually interfere with meaning. It’s a good idea to define them in a footnote, or as I just did, by using brackets.
  • Keep your sentences short (a 20 word max is a good rule of thumb), and make sure you vary their lengths. Your readers are less likely to get confused if sentences aren’t complicated. You’ll also keep their interest, because short sentences have more impact.
  • Make sure your punctuation is correct. The purpose of full stops, commas and other punctuation marks is to make the writer’s meaning clear. Punctuation is crucial for clarity.
  • Make sure sentences and paragraphs are in a logical order. Plan so that readers can follow your thought pattern without frustration.


If these steps were applied to the sentence above, it might end up something like this:
Operational staff are trained to communicate effectively with consumers, so that their messages are easier to understand.

As you can see, the edited version is much clearer, easy to understand and more likely to make the reader willing to read on.


Keen to find out more about improving the clarity of your writing?