5 Writing Mishaps to Avoid in Business WritingPosted by Jessica Oman
You might have read about the big relaunch of Adweek, which included a pretty major copywriting error. Yes, we all overlook details from time to time, but mistakes like this do get noticed and do get picked up by thousands of people through social media applications. The results can be pretty embarrassing for companies, yet they are easily prevented.
Still other errors are less noticeable but take away from the professionalism and readability of business writing. A few of my pet peeves are listed below. I’d love to read your comments on the ones that bug you the most!
1. “That” vs. “who”. This is a simple one. If writing about a person, use “who”; otherwise, use “that”. Example: People who publish articles can gain better business credibility.
2. The serial comma. I love the serial comma, which is the final comma in a written list (e.g., “She needed pencils, pens, and paper”). Often when it is left out, the meaning of a sentence is obscured (but not always).
3. Overuse of semicolons. If writing out a list, why use semicolons to separate your items (e.g., “She needed pencils; pens; and paper”)? What is wrong with using commas here? I understand that semicolons can cause a longer pause for the reader, and could be used for literary effect, but save it for the novellas and short stories. This is business, folks.
4. Redundant and wordy phrases. “Due to the fact that” means “because”. There is no such thing as “advance planning”; you can’t plan any other way. Don’t offer me a “free gift”; if it’s a gift, I expect it to be free. Have you ever received a paid gift for your birthday?
5. i.e versus e.g. i.e. means “that is”. e.g. means “for example”. These are not the same thing. So please differentiate.
These are just a few of the errors I’ve seen lately, and there will be lots of blog posts describing and explaining more. I hope these help you focus your writing and create engaging prose for business.