Write … to the Point

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Archive for the tag “style guides for business”

10 tips when writing for business

10 tips when writing for business

Writing copy for your business is very different from writing for other media. With many other companies competing with you for the same customers, it’s essential that your message hits all the right notes.

Here’s a list of things to consider when putting together your business communications.

1. Know your message

What do you want your potential and current customers to know? What’s the one key point you need to convey to them? While you probably have a few things you’d like to tell them, stick with the one message to avoid confusion.

2. Be clear

Once you are clear on your message, convey it with clear and concise writing. Use simple, easy-to-understand language, avoiding clichés and jargon. Write in short sentences and get right to the point. When your message is clear, you customers are informed.

3. Watch your tone

Ensure that your tone matches that of your audience. If you need to be authoritative, try not to be patronising. If you need to employ humour, ensure that it’s not full of corny ‘dad jokes’. Whatever tone you choose, your audience should feel a connection to you.

4. Remember your branding

What does your company stand for? What is your brand all about? Your written messages are another opportunity to increase your branding. Remember that when you write. If your brand is all about fun, then inject some fun into your message. If your brand is factual and scientific, ensure your message is factual as well.

5. Follow your style guide

This comes back to your branding, but ensure all your written communications follows the same style guide. Not sure what a style guide is? Put simply, it’s a list of ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ to follow with your writing, that promotes consistency, branding and marketing. If you want some tips on how to develop a style guide, click here.

6. Be professional

While standards of business communications have become more relaxed over recent years, always maintain a sense of professionalism. That means avoiding slang, text-speak, too many exclamation points (!!!), and language or topics that may offend.

7. Include a call to action

Don’t leave it to your readers to decide what to do next. Tell them. And make it easy for them. If you want them to call, then give the phone number. If you want them to email you, include a clickable link. If you want them to follow you on social media, include a clickable link. If you want them to visit their website — you got it — include a clickable link.

8. Don’t forget grammar and spelling

When you are busy paying attention to what you want to say, don’t forget about how you say it. Grammar and spelling really do matter. Communications that contain grammatical and spelling errors will only detract from your message.

9. Proofread before you send

Most of us do our best proofreading after we send — whether that be via email, social media or through the post. Check and double-check for errors before you disseminate anything. Some useful tips on proofreading can be found here.

10. Hire a freelancer

While this is not exactly a writing tip, it’s good to keep the option in the back of your mind. If writing is not your strong suit, or you simply don’t have the time to devote to crafting your message, consider hiring someone who can help. A good freelancer can help craft letters, blog articles, press releases, memos, training manuals, business letters or just about any other kind of writing you need.

Great writing is key for business. Using the tips above, you can greatly improve the likelihood of your key business messages hitting the right note.

However, if you would like help crafting communications for your business, please contact me. You’ll find I’m very easy to work with, and my rates will surprise you!

 

Cheers
Nerissa

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Why your business needs a style guide

Why your business needs a style guideNo, we are not talking about fashion. Although having personal stylist would come in handy some days.

The kind of style guide we are talking about is one that applies to your writing. If you write anything (regardless of your industry), you need a style guide. Even if you are working solo and do all the writing yourself, you still need a style guide. If you have multiple people writing for your business or brand, a style guide is vital.

What is a style guide?

In its simplest form, a style guide is a set of ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ to follow with your writing. It promotes consistency in your writing, your branding and your marketing. Consistency is vital across all media channels — websites, emails, letters, social media, blogs, newsletters, reports, etc. — as it fosters professionalism and high standards in your business.

What does a style guide contain?

How long is a piece of string? Seriously, your style guide can contain whatever you want it to contain, from spelling right through to your logo and branding. However, the most common thing style guides contain, are the following:

Language/Style — what voice do you use in your writing? Is it conversational or formal? Is it professional or hip? Knowing who your audience is and understanding their needs will help you decide.

Spelling — what spelling format will you follow? Aus English, UK English or US English. Some words are spelt differently in different countries (e.g. ‘colour’ for Australia and ‘color’ for US). You audience will largely dictate which form to use. Some style guides have a section devoted to words commonly used in their writing. Resembling a dictionary, it provides a quick reference guide on which words to use or avoid, and the preferred spelling (including capitalisation).

Numbers — don’t forget about numbers because they will pop up more than you think. The most accepted style of writing numbers is to write one to nine in words and 10 and above in numbers.

How will you express dates? Is it ‘1 January 2015’ or ‘1/1/15’ or even ‘January 1, 2015’?

What about fractions? Is it ‘1 1/2’ or ‘1.5’?

There is also the question of time and currency. And don’t forget about percentages. Will you use the more accepted ‘per cent’ or the symbolic ‘%’?

Common words and abbreviations — depending upon what industry you are in, there are bound to be some words that you use more often than others. For example, in the health-writing niche the following are commonly used:

* well-being Vs wellbeing

* wholegrain Vs whole grain

* type 2 diabetes Vs type II diabetes

* dietitian Vs dietician

* vegies Vs veggies

There may be no hard and fast rule as to which form to use. You simply need to decide upon one and stick with it.

You also need to decide upon your style when it comes to abbreviations. The most commonly used are ‘e.g.’ (example) and ‘i.e.’ (for instance).

You may also use abbreviations for organisations within your writing — for example, the World Health Organisation (WHO). Because some organisations may have the same abbreviation (Country Fire Authority and Continence Foundation of Australia), it is always wise to spell out the organisation in full with the abbreviation in brackets afterwards. Once you have spelled it out in full, simply use the abbreviation when referring to that organisation for the remainder of your piece of writing.

 Formatting — this means what font you use, the colour and the size. It also refers to your paragraph spacing, underlining, and use of dot points. How will you write your headings? Will they be bold or in UPPERCASE?

Logos — If you have a logo (and what business doesn’t), you need to be clear about how it is used. Things to consider are colour logos, black and white logos, sizing, etc. Your logo is part of your branding so ensure it is consistent across all forms of media. Some brands have different components to their logo, so if this is true for you ensure you know how and when each component is used.

Referencing — If your writing tends to draw upon references, know how you will attribute them. For example, do you refer to the source in-text (e.g. according to the Heart Foundation….) or do you use endnotes (e.g. Heart disease is the leading killer of Australians 1). There are also different referencing styles, so decide which one you are going to use and be consistent with its use.

Developing a style guide may take time and effort. However, it is time and effort well worth spending if you want to develop a professional and consistent brand.

Need to develop a style guide but not sure where to begin? We would love to help. Simply contact us and we will be in touch.

Cheers

Nerissa

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