Write lines: improve your business writing

Hook your reader: 5 killer formatting tips to get your document read

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Hook your reader: 5 killer formatting tips to get your document read

There’s nothing like it, is there? That satisfying moment when you finally finish the document you’ve been working on for days. You’ve done the research, you’ve marshalled your facts and you’ve made it through the hardest part: getting it down on paper. Job done. But hold on. Before you attach it to an email, send […]

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The 5 easiest ways to improve any document (even if English is your second language)

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The 5 easiest ways to improve any document (even if English is your second language)

Very often, people who struggle with business English as a second language assume all their problems stem from the fact that it’s not their native tongue. But the truth is that many native speakers share the same problems. That’s because there are five fundamentals of good writing that apply to all documents, no matter what […]

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What happened when we left an error in an email to 7,000 people

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What happened when we left an error in an email to 7,000 people

I love my job, on most days. We help people with a task that millions find very stressful and problematic. So it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to relieve that pain. For me, it’s the best job in the world. Most days. Then there are the other (thankfully) much rarer days, when things don’t quite […]

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Got writer’s block? Try this.

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Got writer’s block? Try this.

For many people, MS Word is practically synonymous with writing on a computer. Even die-hard Mac fans frequently use it in preference to the Apple alternatives. I used to be among this group. But in the past year, I’ve found a way of hugely improving my efficiency when writing. And it meant ditching Word until […]

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How and when do you write etc, ie and eg?

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How and when do you write etc, ie and eg?

Generally we advise giving Latin a wide berth when it comes to writing work documents or emails. There are exceptions, of course. Lawyers depend on it as a kind of technical shorthand among colleagues. (Some Latin has even entered common usage – alibi, for example.) So do doctors. But using it when writing to people outside […]

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Should I write ‘compared to’ or ‘compared with’?

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Should I write ‘compared to’ or ‘compared with’?

There’s a subtle but useful difference between ‘compared to’ and ‘compared with’. ‘Compared to’ highlights a similarity between two things. ‘Compared with’ does the opposite: it contrasts them. Confusing the two is way down the list of word crimes and misdemeanours. It hardly merits a mention when compared with (as you might say) misspelling someone’s specialism in an email […]

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Ten differences between UK and US English

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Ten differences between UK and US English

Some differences between UK and US English are well documented. For example, most people know that football is a different game in North America and the UK, and any American in the UK quickly learns not to talk about fanny packs. But there are also some more subtle differences that might stymie visitors to Britain, […]

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The best fonts for business documents

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The best fonts for business documents

Courier makes you look like a nerd, Comic Sans is for attention seekers and sans serif fans value their safety and anonymity. So says Simon Garfield, the font of all font wisdom, in his book Just My Type (which we’ve reviewed here). For those of us who don’t deal in fonts every day, this level […]

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Make communicating numbers as simple as 1, 2, 3

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Make communicating numbers as simple as 1, 2, 3

Being able to write about numbers well is a core skill. But it can become needlessly fraught – mainly because those who find maths straightforward often don’t understand why it’s difficult for others to grasp. Luckily, there are three principles that can take the pain out of the process: simplify, signpost and be specific. 1. […]

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You can always leave ‘that’ out – true or false?

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You can always leave ‘that’ out – true or false?

Recently, we were asked to settle a dispute between colleagues over the word that. The example given was:  ‘The consensus was the chief executive was right’ vs ‘The consensus was that the chief executive was right’. Our correspondent had written the former, but his colleague had insisted on the latter. Which do you think is […]

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