Bad writing is very easy to spot; it often jumps off the page or screen. Good writing, on the other hand, is harder to pinpoint and determining what exactly makes this writing good is even harder.

While there’s certain objective criteria for good business writing (correct grammar, sentence structure, etc.), whether or not a specific project succeeds varies from person to person. It’s found in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time analyzing business writing and how exactly it achieve its goals. Over time, I’ve developed a short list of what marks good business writing:

  1. Relevance: The writing must pertain to the topic and the audience it’s reaching. If not, it simply wastes time.
  2. Clarity: The writing should address topics and goals clearly, so the audience can understand and retain the information quickly.
  3. Realness: Business writing should be professional, but never cold or overly formal. Good business writing establishes—and nourishes—an authentic connection with its readers.
  4. Polish: Business writing should support organizational objectives with the right tone and attention to detail. In other words, put your best foot forward.

These are my personal signposts for good business writing. Yet, the degree to which a piece of writing is relevant, clear, real or polished varies from person to person (how about coming full circle, huh?).

How about you? What kind of writing do you value most in business or your day-to-day work? What are your personal signposts for good writing? Have you come across any examples of great writing in your work?



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