Business Etiquette - Writing the Documents

Once you have identified the audience for your writing, try to anticipate the information that your reader might think necessary and include it in your document as you write. It can be done by asking yourself the “WH-questions”.

Writing the Documents
  • Answer the WH questions − Answering “Who? What? Why? Where? When? Whom? How?” will give you a headstart on the content of the writing.

  • Determine the Start and Finish − After collecting all possible ideas that you have on the topic, you could go through them and reject a few that won’t make sense in this write-up. After that, find out the idea that will leave the maximum impact on reading it, and put that at the start of the article. The end should have the idea that summarizes all the ideas in a clear and crisp manner.

  • Get a Second-Person Opinion − always get your written text checked by somebody before submitting it. This lends an objective, second-person perspective to the review and stops your emotions and indulgence from getting in the way. Do not do this if the content is confidential and not to be shared.

  • Discuss Suggestions and Include Improvements − Once your friends have suggested some changes, implement the ones you think are relevant.

Developing Flow

Many people have very interesting ideas and even manage to put them on paper. Unfortunately, their readership does not extend beyond a particular stage. This is because, though their writing is good and the thoughts were properly mentioned, there may not have been a proper selection of words, or maybe a proverb like − “nipping it in the bud” was used, which readers may not understand.

Let us discuss 15 things to remember while proof-reading and revising your writing −


  • Your writing must be understood at the first reading. Avoid technical jargon, unfamiliar words or formal language.

Formal Vs. Modern

  • Payment has been duly noted vs. we received your check.
  • Attached hereto vs. please find Attached

Avoid Ambiguity

  • Words with double meaning or sentences that confuse readers should be avoided

  • Having eaten the fish, Kiran talked to Karan. (Who had the fish?)

Avoid Colloquialisms

  • In a nutshell vs. in short
  • In this day and age vs. today, presently

Avoid using many Words

  • Prior to the event vs. before
  • At this point in time vs. now

Avoid unnecessary Repetition

  • Absolutely essential
  • Combine together

Include only relevant information

  • Omit unnecessary background information.
  • Keep sentences short and simple – 17 words or less.


Check that all the information the reader will need is included −

  • Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?


Check accuracy of grammar and spelling of names of people and places.

  • He done it vs. he did it.
  • It’s color has faded vs. its color has faded.

Don’t Rely on Spell Check

  • Typing ‘no/on’, ‘then/than’, ‘quite/quiet’, ‘lose/loose’ will not show errors.


Give specific details.

  • Your investment plan will earn high interest.
  • Your investment plan will earn 8% interest.


Use language that is believable. Avoid exaggeration and superlatives.

  • Always vs. Usually
  • Never vs. Rarely


Display good manners in your writing. Use passive voice when communicating bad news to avoid negative overtones. For example,

  • We cannot agree to the terms and conditions outlined in the contract.
  • Some discussions regarding the terms and conditions need to be done.

Write with the reader in mind

  • Sexist - Chairman, businessman
  • Condescension - ‘Of course’, ‘Obviously’

Using Bullet Points

  • Communicates your message in an easy and clear manner.
  • Highlights the most important information.