Business Writing: Definition, Format, and Style

Business Writing: Definition, Format, and Style

Communication in the corporate sector requires a certain level of seriousness, formality, and accuracy. This specificity dictates the formatting and style of written documents, including the grammar, sentence structure, wording, and presentation. You may have noticed that most job adverts specify the need to have strong written and verbal communication skills. Well, most people export their academic and information knowledge to the business world, often leading to catastrophic failure or exclusion. One must understand the complexities of the corporate sector to communicate effectively without risking their engagement with the recipient. Hence, business writing is the type of writing adopted in professional settings with definitive principles for purpose, information, format, and style. But what is business writing?


A Simplified Business Writing Definition

Business writing refers to purposeful written professional communication that aims to convey a message to inform, direct, explain, request, or influence the recipient’s action. Based on this definition, business writing has three main components:

The primary objective of any professional piece of writing is to convey a message in a precise and concise manner. Writing is the means through which the communicator will achieve the purpose of the communication. Hence, the objective of the written document is to deliver the writer’s message.

The purpose of writing implies the impact the message will have on the target audience. In this case, business writing can be used to inform or influence the receiver’s action. Examples of informational messages are adverts, where the organization seeks to persuade the buyer to make a purchase. The communicator may also intend to direct the recipient to take a specific action, explain a previous action, or request an action.

The audience is the most important component of business writing as knowledge of the recipient determines the format, style, and message sent. The communicator must have a readable and comprehensible message for their specific target. For instance, writing a business letter in English to a French client is a waste of time. Knowing your audience will determine not only the language of your writing but also the diction, sentence structure, and length of the document.

Standard Business Writing Format

Although business writing varies in type, length, purpose, audience, and documentation, it assumes a relatively similar format. This type of communication requires an introduction, body, and conclusion. First, the introduction section communicates the purpose of the message and sets the agenda for the conversation. Second, the body segment describes the message in detail with explanations and clarifications as needed. Third, the closing or conclusion reiterates the communication and offers a recommendation where necessary. Business writing also specifies the source and target of the message. Examples include business letters, memos, emails, reports, and adverts. Each of these documents adopts the five primary features of a simplified format of business writing.

  1. The communicator
  2. The audience
  3. Opening
  4. Body
  5. Closing

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Writing a Business Letter Format

One of the most common types of business communication documents is the business letter. Although letter writing in the social sphere might seem outdated, business letters remain significantly important to the business community. People write letters when applying for jobs, sharing investment proposals, and communicating appointments, among other critical uses. Despite the growing popularity of email and other online-based avenues, professional letters have retained their role as the preferred method for formal communication. Hence, business letter writing is a skill that every professional must possess regardless of their field of specialization.

Business letters assume a specific format based on the five components of business writing. A good business letter is written in precise and concise wording with short sentences and correct grammar. It must contain the six sections regardless of the format chosen or intended purpose.

Sections of a Business Letter

  1. Sender’s contact information
  2. The date
  3. Recipient’s contact information
  4. Salutation
  5. The body
  6. The closing

Effective Business Writing Style

Although business documents may differ, they all adopt the same writing style. Business writing adheres to the basic rules of conciseness and preciseness of the message with correct sentence structures and grammar. Often, the organization’s culture will determine what writing style is used in business. As a result, different companies have unique characteristics that influence effectiveness in message delivery. However, some features of business writing seem to apply across various sectors and cultures. Below is a simplified business writing style guide.

Business writing requires one to be direct and concise. You must always put your main point first by communicating the purpose of the correspondence at the start of the message. Clarity implies specifying the objective and setting the agenda for the engagement from the beginning. The reader should be able to decipher the message by skimming or scanning through the first few phrases.

Use simple language with everyday words. Although the target audience will determine the diction, choosing simple words and easy-to-understand phrases guarantees the accuracy of information and message delivery.

  • Convey Accurate and Relevant Information

Your business writing must contain the correct data where necessary. You should only provide the required information to support your message. Digressing from the relevant details may confuse the reader and impede message delivery.

  • Use Correct Grammar and Sentence Structure

Grammatical mistakes often communicate disorganization and inexperience. Using the correct grammar and sentence structure enhances the message and emphasizes the importance of communication. Always proofread your documents or seek professional assistance where necessary to avoid unnecessary embarrassment.

Do not use too many words to drive a point. You may even use contractions, where necessary, to avoid wasting the reader’s time. Business writing sometimes targets very busy clients or people in managerial positions. Hence, the recipient may not have the time to read long sentences. Conciseness ensures that the reader can derive critical details from a few direct phrases.

With space in professional writing implies the spaces around the text. It exists between words, paragraphs, and sentences. White space is the visual representation of the rhythm in your document. Thus, effective business writing uses short sentences and small paragraphs to avoid boring the reader with blocks of text. White space retains the viewer’s focus on the text.

Lists and bullet points are essential to business writing as they allow room for scanning and skimming when the reader has no time to analyze the whole document. Bullets also attract attention to the important points.

Headings subdivide the text into sections, acting as highlights for message segments. Readers can peruse the document faster and focus only on important information. Business writing is about communicating the right message to the right audience efficiently. Headings promote efficiency through ease of access to information.

Your chosen font must be easy to read and acceptable to the reader. The font type and size will determine the attractiveness of the text. Some businesses have preferred fonts for use in their official documents. However, in most cases, the writer must choose a suitable font type and size for their document, including the choice of serif or san serif text type.