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IntroductionClarityClear writing is essential if your emails andreports are to be understood. In order to writeclearly, you should first consider what it is youwish to communicate to the reader and thenwrite it clearly and simply.
IntroductionStyleStyle is the way you construct sentences tomake writing more readable and therefore moreunderstandable. It is important to use a varietyof sentence constructions and to choose theappropriate degree of formality.
IntroductionToneTone is the strength with which you expressyourself in writing. Certain phrases are strongerthan others. Choosing a strong, neutral ortentative phrase can significantly affect themessage you give to your reader.
ClarityThere are a number of factors that affect howeasy or difficult it is to read a text.•the layout must be correct and attractive•sentences should be short and simple inconstruction•technical subject matter (jargon) should be keptto a minimum
ClarityLayoutThere are many different layouts used for letters,reports and emails. It is important that you usethe appropriate one.
ClarityShort sentencesIf sentences are short and simple, text is easierto read and therefore easier to understand. Longsentences can be confusing because theycontain several statements or ideas. It is better,if possible, to use several shorter sentences.
ClarityShort sentencesOn the following slides are two ways of writingthe same information. Version 1 shows theinformation as a single long sentence whereas itis shown as three short sentences in Version 2.Notice that Version 2 is easier to read and isclearer to understand.
ClarityVersion 1 Whilst I accept your reasons for the delay in submitting your report on the advertising campaign, and not withstanding the fact that the next meeting about advertising will not now be held until October, I must insist that you should complete it as quickly as possible, preferably before the end of the week, but no later than the beginning of September.
ClarityVersion 2 I accept your reasons for the delay in submitting your report on the advertising campaign. Although the next advertising meeting will not be held until October, I must insist that you should complete the report as quickly as possible. Please let me have it by the end of the week, or at least no later than the beginning of September.
ClarityJargonTechnical subject matterIf you are writing to someone who is not anexpert in your field of business, you should avoidlanguage that is too specialized or technical fora non-expert reader.
ClarityOn the following slides are two versions of thesame extract from a report written by a banker inan investment bank. The meaning of Version 1should be clear to other bankers, but might notmean anything to a person who does notunderstand banking terms. Version 2 avoidsjargon and so is much clearer to read.
ClarityVersion 1 The bank’s position in US Treasuries is marked-to-market at the close of trade every day, and an unrealized profit or loss is reported.
ClarityVersion 2 At the close of trade each day, the bank values its holdings of US Treasury bonds at current prices. A gain or loss is reported for the day, depending on whether the bond prices have moved favorably or unfavorably since the previous day.
ClarityAbbreviationsAvoid using abbreviations unless you are surethat the reader knows what they mean,otherwise the reader will be confused. Look atthe example on the following slide.
ClarityI have to submit a report on the CMQ to LAHQby the end of this week. The DMSPR wants iturgently.This may be clear if the reader is a colleaguefrom the same organization but it may not beclear to someone outside the organization.
StyleThe style of an email or report is affected by:•the variety of sentence constructions•the degree of formality used
VarietyStyle can be improved by using a variety ofsentence constructions. This makes the writingmore interesting to read. The main topic of thesentence should appear at the beginning of thesentence to show that it is important.The examples on the next slides show threeways of writing the same piece of information.
VarietyBecause of the strike on the railways, deliverieswere unfortunately delayed by one week.Here, the most important information is that thestrike on the railways caused by a problem.
VarietyDeliveries were delayed by one weekunfortunately because of the strike on therailways.Here, the most important information is theproblem that the deliveries were delayed.
VarietyUnfortunately, because of the strike on therailways, deliveries were delayed by one week.Here, the most important information is the factthat something unfortunate occurred.
VarietyOn the following slides are two ways of writingthe same text. Version 2 shows different formsof sentence construction and is more interestingto read.
VarietyVersion 1 I received your order for ten desk fans on October 11. I regret to inform you that a labour strike has delayed production. We recently hired new staff. We expect to be back in production before the end of the month. I apologize for the delay.
VarietyVersion 2 I receive you order for ten desk fans on October 11. Because of the labour strike in our factory, production on new desk fans has been delayed. Recently , we hired new staff and expect to be back in production before the end of the month. We sincerely apologize for the delay.
FormalityWritten English is more formal than spokenlanguage, especially in business emails andreports. The following points are important:•contractions (we’ll, you’ve, it’s, etc.) are notnormally used in business correspondence•business emails and reports are moreimpersonal than emails to friends. ‘We’ is oftenuse instead of ‘I’ when the writer represents thecompany
Formality• the passive is often used as the reader is more interested in the action itself rather than who carried out the action
Formal and Informal EnglishOn the following slides are some formal andinformal phrases in written English. Notice howmost formal phrases use the passive.
Formal and Informal EnglishINFORMAL FORMALI recommend that you It is recommended/ Weshould close down the recommend that youfactory. should close down the factory.I have recently been told It has recently come to mythat ... attention that ...We dispatched the goods The goods wereyesterday. dispatched yesterday.
Formal and Informal EnglishINFORMAL FORMALUnless we act quickly, we The opportunity will be lostshall lose this opportunity. unless we act quickly.We purchase the The components arecomponents from purchased fromScandinavia. Scandinavia.
Formal and Informal EnglishBoth sets of phrases are correct, but should beused in different circumstances. For example,you might use an informal phrase when writingto a colleague you know well, whereas a formalphrase would be more appropriate when writingto another company.
Formal and Informal EnglishNote:It is important to remember that, although writtenbusiness English is more formal than spokenlanguage, it is not as formal as it used to be.Some words and phrases that were previouslyused in letters, for example, are now consideredto be over-formal. On the following slide aresome examples.
Formal and Informal EnglishOVER-FORMAL BETTEROur latest brochure is We are pleased to encloseenclosed herewith. our latest brochure. Following your enquiry, wePursuant to your enquiry, ...we ...
Spoken and Written EnglishOn the following slide are some common wordsand phrases. Some are normally spoken, or areused for an informal writing style. An alternativeword or phrase that might be used in a formalemail or report is shown in the next column.
Spoken and Written EnglishSPOKEN WRITTENget worse deteriorateget better improveOK, alright satisfactorychance opportunityget in touch contacttell informwant require
Spoken and Written EnglishSPOKEN WRITTENask for requestmore information further informationlet me know if the date is please confirm the datealrightfill in (a form) complete (a form)worried concernedguess estimate
Spoken and Written EnglishSPOKEN WRITTENwe are sorry we regret(to) help (to) assisthelp assistance
Spoken and Written EnglishWords and phrases in both columns may beused in spoken or written English, with theexception of ‘OK’, which is not used in businesswriting. In general, the words and phrases in the‘written’ column are used when writing tosomeone outside your own company. It is alsoimportant not to use idiomatic language in formalletters and reports.
ToneThe tone with which you express yourself inwriting can be:•strong•neutral•tentativeFor example, you may want to express yourview very strongly when making arecommendation in an email or report.
StrongWe strongly recommend that you carry out athorough review of your information systems.We are firmly convinced that the safetymeasures are inadequate.
StrongIf you are writing about legal requirements, youcould use one of these phrases:It is obligatory that ...You are legally required to ...You are obliged by law to ...
NeutralYou can use a neutral tone to suggest to thereader that your view or recommendation isworth considering, but is not a strong one. Forexample:We recommend that you carry out a thoroughreview of your information systems.We believe that the safety measures areinadequate.
TentativeA tentative tone allows the reader to choosewhether to act upon the view or to ignore it.You might like to consider carrying out athorough review of your information systems.It would seem that the safety measures areinadequate.
Useful PhrasesSTRONG RECOMMENDATIONSIt is obligatory that ...You are legally required to ...It is of the utmost importance that ..We strongly recommend that ...
Useful PhrasesSTRONG OPINIONSWe are firmly convinced that ...We are firmly of the opinion that ...
Useful PhrasesNEUTRAL RECOMMENDATIONSWe recommend that ...We advise you to ...It would be in your interest to ...You should consider ...
Useful PhrasesNEUTRAL OPINIONSWe believe that ...It is our opinion that ...
Useful PhrasesTENTATIVE RECOMMENDATIONSYou could consider ...You might like to consider ...
Useful PhrasesTENTATIVE OPINIONSIt would seem that ...It would appear that ...