Writing for Business Series Part 3: Five Writing Tools Your Business Should be Using Right Now

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In my ongoing series about how and why effective writing impacts businesses, I’ve covered why this subject is so essential and the main types of written communication used by companies. In this post, I’d like to discuss some writing tools that all businesses should be aware of and, ideally, using in their day-to-day operations. Let’s face it…we’re not all Shakespeare or Hemingway, so having some assistance never hurts!

It’s fair to note that some of the tools I mention below are going to seem obvious, but they still bear mentioning. Hopefully you’ll find something on this list that makes a world of difference in your business. Here are five writing tools your company should be using right now:

  1. Spelling/grammar check. This one should be filed under “obvious,” yet I’m amazed at how many e-mails I get every day that suffer from misspellings and clear grammar mistakes.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, even one small writing mistake can make a huge difference in the impact on your company. Use the spelling/grammar check tools easily available in all word processing and e-mail software.
  2. Thesaurus.com. This site is conjoined with Dictionary.com, and both are wonderful tools for writers. Business writing can sometimes come across as dull or monotonous, so use these tools to spice up your writing and avoid using the same word over and over…not to mention using the right word at the right time.
  3. A “readability” tool. Even the strongest writers can have trouble editing their own work, so make use of an online resource or software program to review your written communications. Sites like The Writer’s Diet and Gunning Fog Index will rate the written items you submit and tell you where you need to tighten them up, and they’re free. You could also pay for a software program such as ClearEdits ($80), which integrates nicely with Microsoft Word.
  4. Scrivener (or a similar application). Readability tools are great for shorter documents, but for larger projects, such as business plans or in-depth proposals, an application such as Scrivener ($40) is invaluable. This type of application allows you easily to plan and restructure your documents and work on different pieces of them without it becoming overwhelming. A free option you could also consider is WriteMonkey.
  5. Books. The best writers have all studied the mechanics and subtleties of effective writing. Use trusted resources to make yourself more knowledgeable about proper (and compelling) writing techniques. Some of my favorite resources are The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, On Writing by Stephen King, On Writing Well by William Zinsser, and Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark.

As you can see, there is no single tool that will cover every aspect of business writing. But with a combination of the above tools, you should find that you’re leading the pack when it comes to producing highly effective written communication. If you’d like to share some tools that have worked well for you, please comment below. We’ll see you next time as we discuss how you can earn money through your business writing!

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