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In high school, I (like many people) took a creative writing class. The goal was simple – write as much as possible. Don’t worry about proofreading or proper punctuation. Use AS MUCH detail and flowery description as you can. Then I got into business and learned everything about that is WRONG for business writing.

The goals of business writing are the opposite – make it clear, concise, and to the point. Descriptive words are essential, yes, but redundancy is terrible. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business writing, consider these five tips:

Eliminate “there is/are.” Beginning a sentence with “there is” or any of its forms takes away from the power of the sentence. Instead, begin with the subject, or better yet – an action verb. For example, instead of, “There is a dog in the back yard,” say, “A dog is in the back yard.”

Get rid of “that.” Nine times out of ten, the word “that” adds no meaning to the sentence. Consider the sentence, “I read that dogs like to chase rabbits.” Is that really necessary? Let’s see: “I read dogs like to chase rabbits.” Still makes sense, right? When proofreading, mentally remove every instance of that from your writing and see just how many are necessary for clarification.

Cut out intensifiers. Instead of saying, “I’m really excited,” or “It’s very hot,” you can simply say, “I’m excited,” or “It’s hot.”

Avoid redundancies. Each and every time is just every time. First and foremost is just first.

Keep your sentences short. Studies show 100% of people understand a sentence with eight or fewer words. As the sentence gets longer, accurate comprehension goes down. Simple sentences (comprised of just one independent clause) are the most likely to be understood. One independent clause has just one subject and verb: “The dog chased the cat.”

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