Five Unacceptable Moves In Business Writing?

This week, we provide answers to some frequently asked questions at our business writing workshops.

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Question 1: Is it right to use “I” and “we” in the same message?

Answer: Yes, it is okay to include both pronouns in one message. Use “I”, when you are speaking for yourself and use “we” when you speak for the organization. For example, “I will email you tomorrow morning with the details. We look forward to meeting you this Friday.”

Question 2: Are contractions acceptable in business writing?

Answer: Yes, it’s acceptable to use contractions, however use them sparingly. Contractions such as “can’t, won’t, don’t, it’s, and didn’t” are considered somewhat informal. In formal documents, it is better to avoid them.

Question 3: Is it okay to end a sentence with a preposition?

Answer: Yes, it is, however sentences ending with prepositions are often considered less formal. Depending on the tone you want to project, an end of sentence preposition may or may not be suitable. For example, “These are the terms and conditions we would like you to think of.” Or “These are the terms and conditions we would like you to consider.”

Question 4: Can I start a sentence with “and or but”?

Answer: Yes and yes. Here also, it really is a matter of tone. If you want to sound formal, you can use other words like “in addition, furthermore or additionally” in place of and. Similarly, use “however, nevertheless or nonetheless” in place of but. Here is an example, “But, we hope to start the training this Wednesday. Or “Nevertheless, we hope to start the training this Wednesday.”

Question 5: Is it okay to begin a sentence with, “because”?

Answer: Yes, it is, however, beginning a sentence with “because” is often discouraged. Here is why, you may end up with sentence fragments if it is not done right. For example, “I did not sign the contract. Because the money was less than I asked for.” Here is A correct way to use because to begin a sentence, “Because we appreciate your business, please enjoy this 30% discount.”

Should My Business Emails Be Friendly or Formal?

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When composing a business email, setting the right tone can be tricky.

Let’s say your client or boss receives hundreds of emails in a day. With so many emails, he or she must choose which ones to read in a matter of seconds. If your email address isn’t familiar or your subject line is generic it may be deleted or ignored. However, an informal subject line or email may be viewed as unprofessional or even disrespectful.

So, how do you set the right tone in a business email? When composing an email, it is good to consider some of the following questions. How do you know this person? What, if any, contact have you had in the past? Is the person a superior at work or a client? Is the person family or a friend?

Generally, if this is the first contact between you and the person, you might want to use a formal tone. First impressions are important.

Avoid contractions and use the passive voice where appropriate for a more formal tone. You may consider using the recipient’s full name or their title. Also don’t forget to add your contact information.

If you have already engaged in correspondence with the person and they have replied in an informal tone, perhaps using “Hi” and your first name as a greeting, don’t feel uneasy about matching their informal tone.

One thing to keep in mind is that formal isn’t always the same as professional. In a work environment, it’s important to always remain professional, even when the tone is informal. Inappropriate jokes, negative comments and gossips have no place in business emails. Remember emails can easily be forwarded and once you send an email you can never take it back. Don’t get too comfortable, keep things professional at all times.

Do These 3 Things Anytime You Have To Send a Business Email

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So you’ve typed out an email to a client and you’re about to send the message on its merry way. Not so fast though, make sure you’ve done these three things before you click send. Email mistakes are difficult to correct and can be costly or damaging to your reputation.

 

  • Proofread every lineEmails with typos are not taken seriously so have you done a spell check? Are you using proper sentence structure? Are the first letters of the first words in a sentence capitalised? Are all names spelt correctly? Refrain from using multiple exclamation or question marks. Also make sure all links in the email are working. And make sure the subject of the email matches the content. Don’t misrepresent the content of your email — it will annoy the recipient.

 

  • Read your email aloudMake sure you get the tone of your email right by reading your email aloud. Try to avoid using formatting to emphasise words. Instead, use words that reflect exactly what you want to say. Did you address the email receiver by name? Did you open the email with a courteous sentence? Did you conclude the email with at least one pleasantry sentence (e.g., have a great weekend, or best regards)? “Please” and “thank you” also give your email a nice tone. If you’re emotionally charged, give yourself some time to cool down so your emotions don’t creep into your work.

 

  • Check the recipients – Make sure you have all email addresses spelt correctly. Also refrain from using the “reply to all feature” or “CYA.” Reply directly to the sender as others may not be interested. If all recipients of the email do not know each other, use BCc instead of Cc.

 

You can now confidently send that email to your boss or a client.