Style of Writing
Style refers to whether you are using formal language, clinical language, friendly language, etc. In business situations, a friendly tone is most often used. This would change if the situation is more serious or of a legal nature. In this case, formal words would be used.
It is important to use an appropriate level of formality:
· Use friendly, conversational words.
· Avoid contractions, slang, and even minor grammatical lapses, when you write to people you don’t know.
· Edit your writing to sound confident, even in uncomfortable situations.
· Allow for some individual variation-use your own “voice.”
Business vs. Academic Style
Here are some important differences between academic writing and business writing.
|Effective Business Style||Traditional Term Paper Style|
|Conversational; sounds like a real person talking||More formal than conversation; however, it retains a human voice|
|Contractions OK||Few contractions, if any|
|Uses I, first- and second-person pronouns||First- and second-person pronouns kept to a minimum|
|Friendly||No effort to make style friendly|
|Personal; may refer to reader by name; refers to specific circumstances of readers||Impersonal; may generally refer to readers but does not name them or refer to their circumstances|
|Short, simple words but avoids slang||Many abstract words, scholarly, and technical terms|
|Short sentences and paragraphs||Sentences and paragraphs are usually long|
|Standard edited English||Standard edited English|
|Attention to the visual aspect of the document||No particular attention to the visual impact|
Half-Truths About Writing
None of the following is necessarily true.
· Write what “sounds” good.
· Never use I.
· Use big words.
Decide what is appropriate based on audience and discourse community.
· Analyze your audience carefully and write appropriately.
· If you want the effect produced by an impersonal style and polysyllabic words, use them. But only use them when you want the distancing they produce.
Section Four: Basic Business Document Formats
This section focuses on using MSWord to type documents, the block letter format, the modified block letter format, the memo format, the business email format, and the basic résumé format.
Using MSWord to Type Documents
Here are some tips for using MS-Word more effectively.
1. Starting a document.
a. Word always runs auto-format which will do weird things to your spacing and indentations. You need to choose “Select All” or use Ctrl A when you open a document for the first time.
b. Now, open the “Paragraph” box which is located in the upper toolbar toward the center. Use the arrow in the bottom, right-hand corner.
c. When the box opens, you need to change two areas in the “Spacing” section.
i. Change “After” to 0 pt.
ii. Change “Line Spacing” to single if you are typing business documents.
d. After you have made these changes, hit the “OK” button and you are good to go.
2. For business documents, you need to follow the appropriate format of a letter, memo, or report. These documents will use a combination of single and double spacing.
a. Font size 12 is considered the most appropriate. Do not use any font under size 10 or use a font larger than 12.
b. Calibri is the default font because it uses the least amount of ink.
4. Getting a consistent look.
a. If you have a variety of fonts in your paper, choose “Select All” and once your entire paper is highlighted, choose a font and font size. The paper will now be consistent throughout.
b. If you are have spacing and indentation issues, choose “Select All” and change the spacing and indentation information in the “Paragraph” section.
5. Saving documents.
a. Go to “Save as” in the Office button located in the upper left-hand corner.
c. The title of the document will automatically load as the first words typed on the document but you can change it here by changing the “File name.”
d. Hit the save button in the lower right-hand corner. If all went well, your document has been saved.
Block Letter Format
Block letters are the most common letters used by business today. The set-up is easy to remember, type, and read. Here is an example of a block letter that also explains how to type it.
5 Hill Street Madison, Wisconsin 53700 March 15, 2005 Ms. Helen Jones President Jones, Jones & Jones 123 International Lane Boston, Massachusetts 01234 Dear Ms. Jones: Ah, business letter format-there are block formats, and indented formats, and modified block formats . . . and who knows what others. To simplify matters, we’re demonstrating the block format on this page, one of the two most common formats. For authoritative advice about all the variations, we highly recommend The Gregg Reference Manual , 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), a great reference tool for workplace communications.
There seems to be no consensus about such fine points as whether to skip a line after your return address and before the date: some guidelines suggest that you do; others do not. Let’s hope that your business letter succeeds no matter which choice you make! When you use the block form to write a business letter, all the information is typed flush left, with one-inch margins all around. First provide your own address, then skip a line and provide the date, then skip one more line and provide the inside address of the party to whom the letter is addressed. If you are using letterhead that already provides your address, do not retype that information; just begin with the date. For formal letters, avoid abbreviations where possible. Skip another line before the salutation, which should be followed by a colon. Then write the body of your letter as illustrated here, with no indentation at the beginnings of paragraphs. Skip lines between paragraphs. After writing the body of the letter, type the closing, followed by a comma, leave 3 blank lines, then type your name and title (if applicable), all flush left. Sign the letter in the blank space above your typed name. Now doesn’t that look professional? Sincerely, John Doe Administrative Assistant