Tips for writing better business documents

Communicating in English effectively is essential in today's global economy.

But conveying your ideas clearly is a skill that needs to be learnt. Too often people simply copy the style of their co-worker and especially their superiors as they think this "good English". In Hong Kong, unfortunately, this is often not the case. You see examples in your in-box every day - emails that are difficult to understand and that you need to read over and over again to get the message.

A big mistake is to pad out your writing with unnecessary words and phrases. Remember that the purpose of your writing is to communicate your ideas clearly.

Always try to reduce the number of words in your sentences and avoid lengthy phrases that can be replaced with a shorter alternative. Here are some examples:

*Instead of "prior to" use *before*

*Instead of "subsequent" use *after*

*Instead of "in order to" use *to*

*Instead of "in the event that" use *if*

*Instead of "with reference to" use *about*

*Instead of "state of the art" use *latest*

*Instead of "due to the fact that" use *since*

*Instead of "in order to" use *to*

*Instead of "not later than 2pm" use *by 2pm*

*Instead of "at the present time" use *now*

Remember about organisation as well. Use topic sentences to indicate what each paragraph is about. In addition, keep your emails short. No one likes to read an email 10 paragraphs long!

By using simple words and easily understood phrases you can improve the clarity of your message no end.