types-of-business-writing

The 10 Types of Business Writing You Should Master

Have you ever read your business’s newsletter and noticed they printed “there” where they should have said “their?”

Maybe you’ve read an informal email from a coworker and thought, “Wow. That was unprofessional.”

Or you’ve skimmed a memo with so much technical jargon that you couldn’t understand what you were looking at.

In business, you’re always reading and writing. There are so many types of business writing that employees can grow lazy.

If you want to stand out from the mediocre workers who don’t take writing too seriously, we have one main tip: Study different types of business writing. And then master as many as you can.

Before you dive too deeply into the sea of business writing types, check out FluentU. There are fun videos and quizzes about basic English business vocabulary, writing a business email and marketing business English terms.
 


 

The 10 Types of Business Writing You Should Master

Learn a foreign language with videos

1. Emails

Why They Matter

Emails are the most common type of business writing. They have replaced face-to-face interactions in most business scenarios. It’s crucial that you present yourself professionally in emails.

Emails have become so ubiquitous that it can be easy to get sloppy in your messages. Remember, you’re emailing colleagues, not texting friends! Always use capital letters, correct pronunciation and check your messages with spell check.

Even more importantly, try to master the appropriate introductions and salutations when you write emails to convey respect.

Recommended Resource

GCF Global breaks down email writing and etiquette from A to Z. Review everything from basic email features to time-saving tips.

GFC even provides a free quiz after you read all the material! Now you can be sure you’re ready for the job.

2. Reports

Why They Matter

Years ago, when you were in school, did you ever have to write book reports in your native tongue?

For the most part, these reports were objective. You told what the book was about. Depending on what grade you were in, you might have been required to write your opinion at the end of your assignment.

Business reports are no different.

In a report, you describe an event or project in your business. You describe what happened or is happening. If you give your opinion on the topic, you do so briefly in one section of the report.

The most crucial part of writing reports is learning to write objectively. If you sprinkle your personal opinion throughout these documents, you appear unprofessional.

Recommended Resource

If you have a fun writing style, you can sometimes get away with classic grammar and writing mistakes many people with English as their second language make. This isn’t the case with reports, though. Reports are so black and white that small errors stand out more.

Check out Business English Site to quiz yourself on various aspects of the English language. The grammar quizzes and vocabulary training are especially helpful for people who have to write formal documents such as business reports.

3. Memos

Why They Matter

Memoranda, also known as “memos,” are brief messages sent to people to convey your thoughts on a topic. You may write a memo to thank someone for their hard work or to update them on a project’s progression.

Memos can be tricky, because they’re briefer and more informal than most types of business writing. However, you should still remain professional.

Achieving this balance between informal and professional is crucial. You don’t want to waste people’s time with a long letter filled with business jargon. But you also don’t want to sound like you’re just chatting with a pal.

With a little practice, you can easily master the art of memo writing!

Recommended Resource

Thank goodness for Purdue Online Writing Lab.

The website breaks down the different parts of a memo, so you know exactly how you should format your assignment.

4. Handbooks

Why They Matter

Once you become a trusted, valuable employee, your boss might ask you to assist writing an employee handbook.

The writing style isn’t cutesy or creative. Frankly, it’s pretty cut and dried. You need to explain procedures so that even the most uninformed employee will be able to understand your company’s policies when they’re done reading your manual.

Writing a handbook includes a lot of step-by-step instructions.

Handbooks are probably more common in your business than you realize. Did you read a human resources handbook about how to behave at work? How about an accounts payable guide explaining payroll and retirement?

A lot of people just skim these manuals. But you could be the next assignee to write one, so study up!

Recommended Resource

The people over at PrismNet have written an in-depth guide to, well, writing guides.

Writing step-by-step instructions might seem easy, but doing so can be harder than you’d think. PrismNet explains how to write these instructions clearly and strategically. From format to content, this guide has you covered!

5. Newsletters

Why They Matter

Many companies send out newsletters weekly, bi-monthly, monthly or quarterly.

Whether you volunteer or are assigned this project, think of writing a newsletter as a fun and easy way to impress your boss.

You can usually take a more journalistic approach with newsletters. Write about the employee of the month, important projects the company has completed since the last newsletter and big events coming up.

The writing has a little more personality than most types of business writing, so have a little fun!

Recommended Resource

CompanyNewsletters has several articles about how to make your company’s newsletter as strong as possible.

Are you writing an employee newsletter? How about a customer newsletter?

Maybe you’re having trouble coming up with newsletter ideas. Or you struggle to write objectively.

CompanyNewsletters addresses all these issues and provides helpful tips for people who want to write the best newsletters.

6. Press releases

Why They Matter

If you work in advertising or marketing, chances are, you’ll write a press release.

Press releases are formal announcements about events or products your company is launching. They are published in newspapers or online, so like with newsletters, you can use a journalistic approach to writing them.

Writing that goes within the company can usually be formal and dry. However, pieces such as newsletters and press releases that reach the public should have a little more flare. Practice keeping things interesting but also professional.

Recommended Resource

CBS News has provided a step-by-step guide for how to write a press release. This guide also includes five examples of press releases.

Read through the examples and think about what lessons you can take away from each one. The only way to improve is to read!

7. Meeting agendas

Why They Matter

Let’s be honest—no one likes meetings.

Too often, meetings run long and accomplish little. The person leading the meeting drones on and on. Or members go off on tangents. There are a thousand ways for meetings to become more productive.

Volunteer to write a meeting agenda for your department. If everyone has a printed agenda in front of them, they’re more likely to stick to the topics.

Master the outline format to write meeting agendas. No need to use complete sentences. They’re all about short phrases and bullet points.

The sooner everyone gets out of the meeting, the sooner you can all get more work done! Or, you know, leave for happy hour margaritas.

Recommended Resource

Smartsheet provides free meeting agenda templates.

Not all agendas are created equal. Is this a board meeting? An informal meeting? A conference call meeting? Each meeting type should have different goals, so Smartsheet provides individualized templates for each type of agenda you could need.

8. Inventory trackers

Why They Matter

All you shipping and distribution employees out there are probably all too familiar with inventory trackers.

There’s a good chance you track your company’s inventory using a program such as Microsoft Excel. This task actually doesn’t involve any English writing skills.

However, every so often, your boss will need a report explaining which items sell, which ones don’t sell and what needs to be ordered again.

Suddenly, you have to write a dense document using business terms.

Recommended Resource

Take this handy-dandy quiz on Business English Site.

The quiz includes ten questions to check your knowledge of shipping-related English terms. It’s a helpful way for newbies to test themselves and for more advanced students to review before going in for the job.

9. Resumes and cover letters

Why They Matter

Resumes and cover letters go hand in hand, because people should never submit one without the other!

If you work in human resources, there’s a good chance you’ll look over applicants’ resumes and cover letters to see if they are a good fit for your company.

Yes, you’ll be reading rather than writing in this scenario. But it’s still important to know how to write these two documents so that you can spot a strong candidate in the mix. You wouldn’t want someone who has never played basketball to teach you how to shoot a layup, would you?

In this case, you could be the one to judge someone else’s English business writing skills! Exciting, isn’t it?

Recommended Resource

Once again, Purdue to the rescue! Check out the website’s resume workshop.

The workshop thoroughly covers all the information people should include on their resume. It explains different format and design options to make applications stand out.

Purdue also offers a cover letter workshop. Cover letters may be short, but there’s a lot of information to be included. The workshop walks you through each point that should be addressed.

10. Responses to customer complaint letters

Why They Matter

You can definitely expect to respond to complaints if you work in customer service. Still, you might get caught in this situation regardless of your department.

Responding to negative feedback about your company is never an easy position to be in.

We know, we know, customer complaints can be annoying. But keep in mind that someone took the time to write your company a letter. You should honor their time by responding graciously and professionally.

And if compassion doesn’t inspire you, remember that you want your company to look good. The better your response, the better you and the business seem to the customer.

As long as you appear sincere, this is an opportunity to present your writing skills and show your empathy at the same time.

You might need to ask your manager or department head what you’re allowed to offer in these situations.

Recommended Resource

SitePoint gives you an example of a typical customer complaint followed by a professional response.

This site also breaks down four things to make sure you do in each response.

 

Business writing can seem like another foreign language. Don’t be too overwhelmed, though. Your company won’t expect you to know everything on your first day!

But your boss will notice if you put in the effort to improve your writing skills. They’ll have you writing memos and manuals in no time.


Melissa Shaffer is a freelance writer, online copywriter, and international English teacher. She is one-half of the married couple behind “Teachers Travelling,” a website for tourists, travelers, and those who wish to live vicariously through their travels.

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