By Anne Janzer (218 pages, Cuesta Park Consulting, 2017)
People struggle with writing for work because it requires equal skill as a writer, project manager, and politician. In The Workplace Writer's Process, author Anne Janzer teaches you how to develop and execute a business writing process, streamline collaboration, and get the final approval you need to call the job done. Janzer recognizes that succeeding as a writer in the workplace takes more than just grammatically correct sentences—and that you may be playing this role reluctantly—then she gives actionable advice that will help you complete more projects and create higher-value content. Janzer was a copywriter in the Silicon Valley tech world and is now a business writing coach and an award-winning author. You can download the Mastering the Revision Process chapter from The Workplace Writer's Process here.
By Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson (208 pages, Harper Collins, 2010)
Writing That Works prepares you to write in any business context, including memos, letters, reports, speeches, presentations, proposals, and emails. Authors Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson oversimplify some ideas by emphasizing writing “naturally,” but the breakdowns by writing type with examples provide concrete ideas of what they mean. The authors realistically address issues that cause confusion, like how lack of confidence can lead to jargon-filled, vague writing, and offer the remedy: specific, accurate, and brief writing. With this advice, writers will deliver their message with confidence, clarity, and ease. The book is organized as a reference manual with short chapters, accessible bulleted tips, and specific examples. Both authors are former executives of advertising and communication agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide.
By Roy Peter Clark (181 pages, Little, Brown, and Company, 2014)
In Writing Tools, author Roy Peter Clark demystifies writing and shows that writing is something anyone can do—with the right tools. After an encouraging and supportive introduction, Clark provides 55 tools, described in two- to five-page segments, and follows each tool with exercises to test your understanding. The tools are subdivided into four categories: nuts and bolts; special effects; blueprints; and useful habits. Each category of tools builds on the next, but a reader with more knowledge and nuance could skip ahead. Clark puts a new spin on old lessons, which clarifies and makes accessible advice you have read before but didn’t know how to apply. Unlike other writing books that may feel pedantic and preachy, this book feels like a welcoming to people regardless of where we are in our writing journey. Writing Tools is easy to read straight through and works well as a reference. Clark has taught writing to professional journalists and is vice president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
By Arthur H. Bell, Ph.D. (230 pages, Barrons Educational Series, 2004)
How to Write Attention-Getting Memos, Letters, and E-mails is hard to find but worth the hunt. This book provides quick-and-dirty writing advice for career-minded people who want to thrive in a corporate environment. So if writing is not your passion but you need to do it for work, this book is for you. It will help you use the right language, tone, and structure for business memos, reports, proposals, and letters. It will also help you identify your own business style, recognize others’ styles, and find a middle ground to help you win over a reader with a different approach. Though some elements of this book are dated, it’s a helpful tool for business people who write for work, not for love of writing. Author Bell is a professor of management communication at the University of San Francisco.
By Rayne Hall (72 pages, Createspace Independent Pub, 2014)
This brief, independently published eBook teaches authors to self-edit for brevity. Each chapter starts with a quick introduction and several wordy-versus-concise comparisons follow. This book won’t replace other writing guides, but author Rayne Hall’s use of signal words to show authors where they can cut bloated phrasing makes for useful advice—and it fits with WordRake’s approach. Though this guide was intended for fiction writers, it will also help business writers who tend to be too wordy and casual. Hall has dedicated over 30 years to publishing and is the author of the Writer's Craft guides.
Looking for More Business Writing Help?
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- The Art & Science of Writing Business Email
- 8 Secrets to Writing Clearly & Concisely
- 3 Secrets to Writing Bright & Lively Sentences
And if you’re still trying to convince yourself that business writing matters, check out our blog posts that detail the high cost of bad writing:
Great business writing requires more than proper grammar. You must capture your audience’s attention, convert them to your viewpoint, and convince them to act. (This is true whether you’re writing for internal or external stakeholders.) So commit to better writing and add a few of these books to your reference library. When you’re ready to take the next step, let WordRake help you tighten and tone your business writing at the push of a button. WordRake uses complex, patented algorithms to find corporate jargon, wordy phrases, redundancies, unnecessary modifiers, and more. Then it presents its suggestions to you in the familiar track-changes style. It can make any document clearer and shorter. Try WordRake free for seven days!
About the Author
Ivy B. Grey is the Chief Strategy & Growth Officer for WordRake. Prior to joining the team, she practiced bankruptcy law for ten years. In 2020, Ivy was recognized as an Influential Woman in Legal Tech by ILTA. She has also been recognized as a Fastcase 50 Honoree and included in the Women of Legal Tech list by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center. Follow Ivy on Twitter @IvyBGrey or connect with her on LinkedIn.