Many clients frequently have to generate written documents, above and beyond the daily barrage of e-mails. For many nonnative English speakers, this can be a daunting task due to concerns about choosing the appropriate words, grammar, and other linguistic challenges.
Here are some tips for writing concise and organized reports, memos, and other work-related documents.
Step One: Decide how you want to organize your information. You have many logical choices. For example, you can organize your report by geographical locations (report on the Northeast, Southwest and Western regions of your company) or any other common subject or theme. You can organize your writing sequentially; use words such as first, next, then, before, after, and finally. Include dates and timelines when using this style. Relevance is another strategy. Try to put the most important information at the beginning, so readers don’t have to wade through pages to find the information that is most relevant for them. You can signal the reader with a phrase such as, “The most important decision made by the Board of Directors...”
Step Two: Make sure your paragraphs are in proper form. Educational settings often utilize the acronym COPS to help you to remember important writing strategies: C - Capitalize the first word of each sentence. Also capitalize proper nouns. O - Organize your paragraph by including a topic sentence (main idea), a body with 3 key points (supporting details), and a closing summary sentence. P - Punctuate your remarks with the correct period, question mark, or exclamation point. S - Spell words correctly. English has many confusing words such as loose vs. lose, cloths vs. clothes, principal vs. principle. Make sure you have access to a good online or print dictionary.
Step Three: Use active voice if possible. “I conducted the experiment under the following conditions,” vs. “The experiment was conducted.”
Step Four: Use parallel structure (consistent grammatical forms, i.e., all statements using the same verb form), andconcrete, precise vocabulary. "He is surfing the internet, texting his friends, and completing his assignment," vs. "He surfedthe internet, is texting his friends, and completed his assignment."
Step Five: Proofread and revise as necessary before you sign off on your document. Eliminate sentences that are redundant or irrelevant. Rewrite awkward, wordy sentences. Correct spelling mistakes.
Create a lasting impression with proper writing skills!
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