Professional writing: Inconsistency and other red flags you should avoid – Business Daily
Three remaining fundamentals: avoiding childish words, proofreading, and consistency. PHOTO | POOL
In today’s Business Talk, we put forward the Business Daily’s sixth and final article in the miniseries on how to write professionally.
Therefore, we conclude with the three remaining fundamentals: avoiding childish words, proofreading, and consistency.
Now, please make an important decision for your life. Do you desire to gain acclaim and prominence as which of the following two options: a hip cultural icon or a commensurate expert professional in your field?
In the likely scenario whereby you decided on the second life choice, then please leave your personal opinions out of your professional writing.
Certainly, we all know that each of us retains biases and our own unique worldview. Nonetheless, professional writing must appear objective.
In as much, remove childish words from your professional writing: feel, think, like, just, really, among others. As a professional, readers generally do not care what you feel, what you think, or what you like.
Only famous actors, musicians, or other personality-cult-driven celebrities enjoy public obsession with their personal preferences. The rest of us mere mortals must get our way by presenting facts or excellent arguments.
ALSO READ: BELLOWS: Professional writing: Minding your audience and every crucial detail
So, avoid “I feel that the marketing strategy is a good idea”. Instead, author verbiage such as: “Empirical evidence garnished from the Company’s own client surveys suggests that the appropriate course of action for a new marketing strategy involves the following….”
The latter sentence appears purely objective, free from bias, and likely to gain support from colleagues.
State your reasons and supporting evidence concisely instead of utilising childish emotion-based words on what you believe, think, feel, or like.
ALSO READ: BELLOWS: Art of international professional writing
Other childish writing traits involve overemphasising simple words: really or very. Example: “the recording artist sings exceptionally well” stands better than “the recording artist sings really well”.
When people write, their brains think faster than their hands’ ability to type.
So, often gaps or errors appear in writing whereby one’s brain puts forth the strategy brilliantly, but one’s hands failed to simultaneously capture the full thought with grammatical accuracy.
Therefore, before sending any written communication, you must check through the entire document whether large or small.
One easily gets tired while writing for professional purposes. Once the writer reaches the end of the communication, he or she often feels so relieved, that the writer just hits send on the computer and off the document goes.
However, one never wants his or her reader to catch easy mistakes that simple proofreading would have solved. Otherwise, the reader instantly thinks of the writer as a low-grade, careless, dead-end professional.
Unfortunately, we often focus on quantity rather than quality when writing professionally. So, do not let skilled professionals look down on your unexpectedly simple grammatical and formatting mistakes.
Thankfully for us, the easy solution involves just rereading our documents once again. While simply proofreading regularly, one will likely notice between one to three corrections per paragraph.
Each proofreading correction saves a writer from embarrassment.
Continuing on a consistency-related theme, other contradictions exist and writers should strive to avoid mistakes in tense, font, periods, and alignment.
Ever notice an article written in Times New Roman 12-point font that then switches to Calibri 11-point font? Even worse, the same article could alternate between present, past, and future tenses while incorporating full stops (periods) after some bullet-pointed statements and not others.
Many human resource professionals immediately trash CVs and cover letters written that contain such discrepancies.
Another red flag that signals an unprofessional writer: is some paragraphs align text left and others justified equally right and left. So, proceed with caution.
No real right or wrong exists between whether to utilise Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial fonts, or even whether to incorporate full stops/periods (“.”) in a list.
The importance, rather, lies in one’s ability to assimilate radical consistency to your entire document. Remember the following helpful hint for future use: “Consistency in your word choices slows your career.
Conversely, consistency in your formatting ensures your survival”. In short, while the words you use must vary widely to remain interesting, your formatting and document structure must remain the same throughout.
In closing, numerous readers have written in requesting more engagement on the professional writing topic.
Inasmuch, USIU-Africa will host a free virtual session for Business Daily readers to engage deeper about professional writing at 3 pm on Thursday, December 8th.
Write to the below email to get the Zoom link.