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Marketing Students
Business Writing basics
October 16, 2020
Professor Steven Litt
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
Business Writing Tips: remember to do this
1. Think like a professional! Get into the mindset / situation of a real pro in a
real role, real location, real company. Thinkof the specific decisions they make
and specifically how they will use the info you are bringing to them
2. Use current sources and multiple sources
3. Use sources that are credible and objective
Tim Hortons’ site is credible for info on how many outlets they have in Canada.
Tim Hortons’ site is NOT a credible source for brand’s strengths,customerratings.
4. In Business documents, it’ usually OK to introduce a thought in a full sentence
and then include bullets
5. If given a layout, template or a past benchmark document that sets the standard,
then follow the template (How often will your boss give you atemplate?!?!
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
Business Writing Tips: remember to do this
6. Follow instructions on file formats, file size, where to post it,…
7. Include relevantdata:
numberof citizens?Irrelevant. #of citizenswithadrivers’license?Better.
% of Canadianhomes thatarein Ontario?Irrelevant. %of Ontariansowninga home?Better.
% of Cdn backpacksales sold inOntario?Irrelevant%of Ontariansbuyingbackpacks?Better.
8. Interpretall visuals with a 1 sentencesummary(Don’tincludeun-interpretedfigures
& leaveitto the readerto ‘figureout what the keytakeaway is’)
9. When editing, ask yourself if Appendix info/ visuals/data should instead be moved to
the ‘body content’ (and whether contents in the body should be in the Appendix).
Business document ‘content flow’ is important.
10. Support your arguments (they should be YOUR arguments in your wording) with data.
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
Business Writing: beware common errors!
• Not citing; not citing in text; not citing using MLA (eg in-text citation
is not the completetitle; you should cite next to where datais used;
you should cite with MLA, not footnotes!)
• Omitting quotation marks if it IS a “directquote”
• Not citing figures/visuals
• Including the figure (‘62 Million’) but not the units (Euros? Cdn$,
$USD? Units, Hectares?)
• Merely listing a whole bunch of URL’son the Sources page
• Using weak sources and single (vs multiple) sources:neveruse
coursehero,wikipedia,marketing91,mbaskoolasyour‘Sources’
• Figures that are not legible, or not interpreted,or not cited in text.
• MISSING DATA!Don’t use evocative words instead of findingdata:
‘huge’ ‘vast’ immense’ ‘fast growing’ ‘outlets everywhere’‘highincome’
• WANDERING OFFTOPIC:if a lesson in 18th century production methods or
a sleek looking ‘Buying Power’ figure doesn’t apply, don’t include it. Business
readers are busy: they will punish, not reward you, for off-topic content
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
Avoid these pitfalls!
common errors in writing style
• Throwaways:‘notwithstandingthat…’, ‘it goes without saying…’,‘itis
evident that’, ‘it’snot everyday that…’, ‘if we take intoaccount…’,
• ‘Padding’: ie unrequested, irrelevant content to give the illusion
more work was done (Remember Pascal: if you had invested moretime, it
would be shorter.Apowerful doc is NOT padded; it is pruned).
• Obscuresentence structure:An object shouldstart the sentence.
Not: “The sentence should be started with an object” Yodayouare not.
• Long quotes: we want your wording, accentuated by data,support.
• Prejudicial Terms: ‘noble born’ ‘middle class’ ‘lower class’
• Hyperbole: ‘whopping’ ‘humungous’‘everyoneknows’‘everyone’s
favourite’‘unbeatable’‘unquestioned’‘superb’ ‘a colossus’…
• Not translating all acronymsprominentlyandearly in a document.
“Appealingto SME’s”?“MFCER’s”?
• Profanity: curse words do appear in final versionsof studentwork.
They do not belong in BusinessDocuments.
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
BusinessWriting: Do’s & Don’t’s
DO include awatermark if needed
Do include a footer with author, page
number, date
DO include a TableofContentswithpage
numbers!
DO includespecific,relevant,thorough
SampleCriteria
Do cite in text (figures, facts, data)
DO include Sourcesin MLAformatcited
both in textand in a Sourcespage.
DO spellthe brandand companyname
correctly!
DO email / contact the requester > 24
hours beforedeadline for any clarifications
DO NOT USE ALL CAPS if emailing the
requester forclarifications
DO upload it in the properlocation,in
properfile type, withinrequiredsize
limits BEFORE theDEADLINE.
DO Check beforeuploading
Don’t showconfidentialinfo on cover page
Don’t use low contrast images
Don’t misspellbrand/companyname!
Don’t uploaddocumentspartsindifferentplaces
viadifferentusernames
Don’t use .pagesformat
Don’t upload as alink unless requested
Don’t emailitifaskedtouploadit
Don’t ignoretemplate/format/file
size
Don’t assumeyou’rethe exception; ie
Don’t repost repeatedly or send many emails
askingto “Please find this additional info I
neglected to include” or “Please see corrected
doc; previousfilewas sentinerror”
Don’t expect a reply to requestson deadline
day. If you haveweeksto do a project,alast
minute‘clarification’ request signals disrespectfor
the requester/the project
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
Distinguish yourself! Build your brand!
Find and identify the Lead Market, for the category.Then
show its similarities versus your market,and list what can be
learned from the Lead Market for your market.
and/or
Find the benchmark data (giving a report on auto vehicle
satisfaction?Find JD Power data!).Then show how / if that
data applies to your situation ie specify in the report how your
situation compares to, or can learn from, the benchmark
©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.

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Business writing tips 2020 litt

  • 1. Marketing Students Business Writing basics October 16, 2020 Professor Steven Litt ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
  • 2. Business Writing Tips: remember to do this 1. Think like a professional! Get into the mindset / situation of a real pro in a real role, real location, real company. Thinkof the specific decisions they make and specifically how they will use the info you are bringing to them 2. Use current sources and multiple sources 3. Use sources that are credible and objective Tim Hortons’ site is credible for info on how many outlets they have in Canada. Tim Hortons’ site is NOT a credible source for brand’s strengths,customerratings. 4. In Business documents, it’ usually OK to introduce a thought in a full sentence and then include bullets 5. If given a layout, template or a past benchmark document that sets the standard, then follow the template (How often will your boss give you atemplate?!?! ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
  • 3. Business Writing Tips: remember to do this 6. Follow instructions on file formats, file size, where to post it,… 7. Include relevantdata: numberof citizens?Irrelevant. #of citizenswithadrivers’license?Better. % of Canadianhomes thatarein Ontario?Irrelevant. %of Ontariansowninga home?Better. % of Cdn backpacksales sold inOntario?Irrelevant%of Ontariansbuyingbackpacks?Better. 8. Interpretall visuals with a 1 sentencesummary(Don’tincludeun-interpretedfigures & leaveitto the readerto ‘figureout what the keytakeaway is’) 9. When editing, ask yourself if Appendix info/ visuals/data should instead be moved to the ‘body content’ (and whether contents in the body should be in the Appendix). Business document ‘content flow’ is important. 10. Support your arguments (they should be YOUR arguments in your wording) with data. ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
  • 4. Business Writing: beware common errors! • Not citing; not citing in text; not citing using MLA (eg in-text citation is not the completetitle; you should cite next to where datais used; you should cite with MLA, not footnotes!) • Omitting quotation marks if it IS a “directquote” • Not citing figures/visuals • Including the figure (‘62 Million’) but not the units (Euros? Cdn$, $USD? Units, Hectares?) • Merely listing a whole bunch of URL’son the Sources page • Using weak sources and single (vs multiple) sources:neveruse coursehero,wikipedia,marketing91,mbaskoolasyour‘Sources’ • Figures that are not legible, or not interpreted,or not cited in text. • MISSING DATA!Don’t use evocative words instead of findingdata: ‘huge’ ‘vast’ immense’ ‘fast growing’ ‘outlets everywhere’‘highincome’ • WANDERING OFFTOPIC:if a lesson in 18th century production methods or a sleek looking ‘Buying Power’ figure doesn’t apply, don’t include it. Business readers are busy: they will punish, not reward you, for off-topic content ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
  • 5. Avoid these pitfalls! common errors in writing style • Throwaways:‘notwithstandingthat…’, ‘it goes without saying…’,‘itis evident that’, ‘it’snot everyday that…’, ‘if we take intoaccount…’, • ‘Padding’: ie unrequested, irrelevant content to give the illusion more work was done (Remember Pascal: if you had invested moretime, it would be shorter.Apowerful doc is NOT padded; it is pruned). • Obscuresentence structure:An object shouldstart the sentence. Not: “The sentence should be started with an object” Yodayouare not. • Long quotes: we want your wording, accentuated by data,support. • Prejudicial Terms: ‘noble born’ ‘middle class’ ‘lower class’ • Hyperbole: ‘whopping’ ‘humungous’‘everyoneknows’‘everyone’s favourite’‘unbeatable’‘unquestioned’‘superb’ ‘a colossus’… • Not translating all acronymsprominentlyandearly in a document. “Appealingto SME’s”?“MFCER’s”? • Profanity: curse words do appear in final versionsof studentwork. They do not belong in BusinessDocuments. ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
  • 6. BusinessWriting: Do’s & Don’t’s DO include awatermark if needed Do include a footer with author, page number, date DO include a TableofContentswithpage numbers! DO includespecific,relevant,thorough SampleCriteria Do cite in text (figures, facts, data) DO include Sourcesin MLAformatcited both in textand in a Sourcespage. DO spellthe brandand companyname correctly! DO email / contact the requester > 24 hours beforedeadline for any clarifications DO NOT USE ALL CAPS if emailing the requester forclarifications DO upload it in the properlocation,in properfile type, withinrequiredsize limits BEFORE theDEADLINE. DO Check beforeuploading Don’t showconfidentialinfo on cover page Don’t use low contrast images Don’t misspellbrand/companyname! Don’t uploaddocumentspartsindifferentplaces viadifferentusernames Don’t use .pagesformat Don’t upload as alink unless requested Don’t emailitifaskedtouploadit Don’t ignoretemplate/format/file size Don’t assumeyou’rethe exception; ie Don’t repost repeatedly or send many emails askingto “Please find this additional info I neglected to include” or “Please see corrected doc; previousfilewas sentinerror” Don’t expect a reply to requestson deadline day. If you haveweeksto do a project,alast minute‘clarification’ request signals disrespectfor the requester/the project ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.
  • 7. Distinguish yourself! Build your brand! Find and identify the Lead Market, for the category.Then show its similarities versus your market,and list what can be learned from the Lead Market for your market. and/or Find the benchmark data (giving a report on auto vehicle satisfaction?Find JD Power data!).Then show how / if that data applies to your situation ie specify in the report how your situation compares to, or can learn from, the benchmark ©2020 Steven Litt . All rights reserved. May not bescanned, copied, duplicatedorpostedpublicly toawebsiteina whole or in part.