Elements of Business Writing: A Guide to Writing Clear, Concise Letters, Mem, 1st edition

  • Gary Blake
  • Robert W. Bly

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From an interoffice memo to a fifty-page proposal, this is the definitive guide to business writing. Anyone who has ever had to write any business document will find "The Elements of Business Writing" the single most effective tool for producing clear, concise, and persuasive prose. Equally useful to executives and support staff, it shows how to: write clearly and powerfully; rid writing of jargon and pompous language; organize material effectively; and avoid errors in spelling, grammar, and usage.

Table of contents



1.Principles of Communication.

Rule 1: Use the Active Voice.

Rule 2: Avoid Long Sentences.

Rule 3. Use Simple Language.

Rule 4: Delete Words, Sentences, and Phrases That Do Not Add to Your Meaning.

Rule 5: Break Your Writing into Short Sections.

Rule 6: Use Specific and Concrete Terms. Rule 7: Write in a Natural, Conversational Style.

Rule 8: Keep Ideas Parallel.

2.Principles of Organization.

Rule 9: Organize Your Material According to the Way Your Reader Thinks about the Subject.

Rule 10: Organize Your Material Logically.

Rule 11: Delete the Warm-Up Paragraph.

Rule 12: Use an Executive Summary.

Rule 13: Separate Fact from Opinion.

Rule 14: Delete Unnecessary Closings.

Rule 15: Use Headings and Subheadings.

3.Principles of Wording and Phrasing.

Rule 16: Avoid Wordy and Redundant Phrases.

Rule 17: Use Small Words.

Rule 18: Avoid Sexist Language.

Rule 19: Know the Proper Use of the Most Commonly Misused Words and Phrases.

Rule 20: Substitute Modern Business Language for Antiquated Phrases.

Rule 21: Substitute Original Language for Cliches.

Rule 22: Avoid Jargon.

4.Principles of Tone.

Rule 23: Write to Express, Not to Impress.

Rule 24: Prefer Informal to Formal Language.

Rule 25: Prefer Positive Words to Negative Words.

Rule 26: In a Sentence Containing Both Good and Bad News, Give the Bad News First.

Rule 27: Write to Change Behavior, Not to Express Anger.

Rule 28: Be Your Most Pleasant Self.

Rule 29: Use Contractions to Warm Up Your Message.

Rule 30: Avoid Unnecessary Hedging.

Rule 31: Avoid Sarcasm.

5.Principles of Persuasion.

Rule 32: Gain Your Reader's Attention in an Appropriate Manner.

Rule 33: Awaken a Need for an Idea before Presenting the Idea.

Rule 34: Stress Benefits, Not Features.

Rule 35: Use Facts, Opinions, and Statistics to Prove Your Case.

Rule 36: Don't Get Bogged Down in Unnecessary Details or Arguments.

Rule 37: Tell the Reader What to Do Next.

Rule 38: Before Making a Request, Give the Reader a Reason to Respond.

Rule 39: Do Not Assume the Readers Has Been Persuaded by Your Argument.

6.Principles of Punctuation, Grammar, Abbreviation, Capitalization, and Spelling.


Rule 40: Use Commas to Indicate a Brief Pause.

Rule 41: Use a Semicolon to Separate Independent Clauses Not Joined by a Conjunction.

Rule 42: Use a Colon to Introduce a List or Explanation.

Rule 43: Add an Apostrophe and an s to Form the Possessive Case of a Singular Noun.

Rule 44: Hyphenate Two Words Compounded to Form an Adjective Modifier if They Precede a Noun.

Rule 45: Use an Ellipsis to Show Hesitation or Omission.

Rule 46: Use Parentheses to Add Explanatory Material That's Not Part of the Main Thought.

Rule 47: Use a Dash to Interrupt -- or Highlight -- a Thought.

Rule 48: Avoid Slash Construction.

Rule 49: Put Commas Inside Quotation Marks.


Rule 50: Avoid Subject and Verb Disagreement.

Rule 51: Avoid Improper Use of Reflexive Pronouns.

Rule 52: Avoid Sentence Fragments and Run-On Sentences.

Rule 53: Avoid Dangling Modifiers.

Rule 54: Avoid Misplaced Modifiers.


Rule 55: Use Too Few Abbreviations Rather Than Too Many.

Rule 56: Do Not Use an Apostrophe When Writing the Plural of an Abbreviation.


Rule 57: Do Not Capitalize Words to Emphasize Their Importance.

Rule 58: Capitalize the Full Names of Corporation, Government Agencies, Divisions, Departments, and Organizations.

Rule 59: Capitalize Trade Names.


Rule 60: Know the Basic Rules of Spelling, Rule 61: If there are Variant Spellings, Use the Preferred Spelling.

Rule 62: Keep a List of the Words You Repeatedly Misspell.

7.Principles of Format.

Rule 63: Use Wide Margins to Aid Readability.

Rule 64: Use Subject and Re Lines in Memos.

Rule 65: Use Modern Salutations and Closings in Letters.

Rule 66: Use Numbered Lists or Bullets to Present a Series of Points or Ideas.

Rule 67: Put Names in "cc" and "bc" lists in Alphabetical Order.

Index.About the Authors.

Published by Pearson (August 1st 1992) - Copyright © 1991