Be Careful What, How You Write

By BruzzeseGannett, Anita | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 9, 2013 | Go to article overview
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Be Careful What, How You Write

BruzzeseGannett, Anita, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Think about one of the dozens of emails you sent in the last week at work.

Did any of them have typos? Spelling errors?

Was each of them concise and clear? Did they convey that you're a capable professional?

Sending emails every day has become as routine to most workers as brushing their teeth. But that casualness can mean that we send poorly written messages that are riddled with errors, say Brenda Greene and Helen Cunningham, authors of "The Business Style Handbook."

With the explosion of texts, instant messages, social media posts and blogs, Greene and Cunningham say that the writing rules first outlined in their book 10 years ago are more important now than ever. They recently updated their book and reconnected with many of the Fortune 500 employers they interviewed years ago to find that no matter the profession, employees are writing more.

"I think probably the standards for writing have gotten higher. You have writing that is available online in real time, and it really raises the bar. It puts more pressure on people," Cunningham says.

The problem with the pressure to write faster and more often is that workers can fall into bad habits that can have bottom-line consequences, they say. Failing to verify your facts in an email could cost your company money or jeopardize a deal.

The stakes also can be high for your career. If you send an email or write a report that has grammatical errors or isn't clearly written, bosses might believe that you're not a good representative of the company or not ready for a promotion, they say.

"Credibility is so essential," Greene says.

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