Business writing

Writing style guidelines

- September 9, 2007 < 1 MIN READ

These writing style guidelines are my views on how to make an article a good read. They are subjective, probably grammatically controversial or worse incorrect. With that in mind, let’s get going:

I discourage the use of:

Headings With All Capitals

While Americanisations of the original Australian-English rules have become more accepted, you won’t see them on this site. Similarly you won’t find a skerrick of organize, realize and the like.

Brackets

My view is they weaken writing. Either a statement deserves a place in the paragraph or it doesn’t. It’s like talking to someone, then suddenly starting to whisper. Stand by your words or don’t say them.

Phrases in inverted commas

E.g. A client of mine “turned a corner” and “came up trumps” with the right solution.

If you spoke this sentence, you wouldn’t emphasise the phrases in this way. If you did, the listener would feel mighty patronised.

Never underestimate the reader’s ability to interpret your message. People aren’t dummies, if they were, apparently incomprehensible books like A Clockwork Orange or Trainspotting would never have been bestsellers.

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Excessive punctuation

Commas, exclamation marks and hyphens are particularly prone to overuse. Punctuation is meant to add seasoning to words, it’s not supposed to be the primary flavour.

The word ‘etc’

“Etc” says to me “I can’t be bothered to finish this list.” Either do the job properly or put the word “and” in between the last two words.

There are lots of things I encourage the use of, but I’ll save that for another time.

What writing style guidelines do you use? Do you agree with my niggles or are you compelled to take me to task? Bring it on below.

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