What is Business Writing?

Business writing, a specific form of communication designed to accelerate and facilitate business interactions, is pivotal in various professional roles. With the contemporary linguistic landscape making business writing ubiquitous, learning to write effectively can significantly enhance your career prospects.

Key Insights

  • Business writing is indispensable in today's commercial landscape, often encountered in emails, reports, and proposals.
  • Effective business writing can advance your career by demonstrating your capabilities to supervisors and managers.
  • While business writing is not a career in itself, strong writing skills can increase your chances of success across a variety of careers.
  • Business writing skills share much in common with presentation skills, both requiring clarity and conciseness.
  • Noble Desktop offers comprehensive in-person and online business writing courses that provide practical exercises and a free retake option.
  • Good business writing skills can make you come across as professional, educated, and capable, potentially leading to more responsibilities and opportunities in the workplace.

Business writing denotes a specific type of writing – with its rules and (unfortunately) jargon – designed to accelerate and facilitate business communication. Business writing turns up everywhere in the professional world and, in the contemporary linguistic landscape, follows many of the same patterns from industry to industry. The ensuing overview will outline what business language is, where and how it is used, and how it can be learned so that you, too, can write effectively for basically any role you might assume in your career.

What Can You Do with Business Writing?

Business writing is, in today’s commercial landscape, inescapable. Consider its most frequently encountered application, the email. A generation ago, people made internal calls for quick inter-office communication. They used to have secretaries who could return calls at the recipient’s convenience. Today, those calls have all but been replaced by internal email. Whether or not you perceive that as faster or slower, it’s an inevitable fact of life. Suddenly, people must be able to write in the language of business.

Above and beyond, emails, memoranda, reports, and client proposals all call for business writing that can impress the recipient. Little can make you look better today than being able to write well in the idiom of commerce. Learning how to write a good piece of business English has several other advantages. It will teach you how to organize your thoughts, which, in turn, will help you when it comes to oral presentations. You’ll also become a better writer in general: your social media posts will improve in quality and correctness, and who knows? You may even be able to write a convincing love letter that will capture the person of your dreams.

What Do You Need for Business Writing? How Much Does it Cost?

To write convincingly for business, you will need to have a basic grounding in the mechanics of writing English. You don’t necessarily need to know how to diagram a complex-compound sentence (indeed, complex-compound sentences are frowned upon in business writing). Still, you will have to know your parts of speech, what’s a subject and what’s an object, and the differences between they’re, their, and there. In fact, the better a writer you are, the easier time you’ll have when learning to write for business.

The good news is that learning to write convincingly and effectively for business isn’t expensive. There are classes, but they are generally of brief duration. It’s the kind of skill that you can get the hang of pretty quickly, assuming you have a good teacher and the proper linguistic bases to build upon. However, you’ll also be able to find almost-remedial grammar classes if you’re shaky in that respect, and those are usually relatively brief, too. If you need even more help with your written English, you’ll be able to find classes for that, too.

What Are the Benefits of Learning Business Writing?

Microsoft Office Bootcamp: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, Learn From Experts, Free Retake, Small Class Sizes,  1-on-1 Bonus Training. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

Learning effective business writing will help you in your career like practically no other skill. Ironically, written communication is more important to commerce today than it was a generation ago, largely because email is the preferred communication between businesspeople today. Every time you send one, you’re exposing your capabilities. Supervisors and managers will judge you based on what you’ve written, and you can make even a great idea look bad if you can’t write it up properly.

If, on the other hand, you get a reputation for being a good writer, you may find that it works like an Open Sesame to further opportunities in the workplace. You’ll find yourself entrusted with greater responsibilities and be asked to write things that are more important than just emails. You’ll come off as professional, educated, and capable, three characteristics that can only help earn you advancement in the workplace.

Read more about why you should learn business writing.

Business Writing Careers

Business writing can’t be called a career per se, but there is nary a career today in which you won’t increase your chances of success by being an accomplished business writer. Writing skills are needed for everything from emails to memoranda to elaborate corporate reports and sales proposals.

“Writer” is also a job title in its own right. Writers often freelance, but many companies keep full-time writers on staff to take care of the more elaborate writing assignments that come the organization’s way. Another field in which professional writers are involved is the writing of blogs and content. Although content writing isn’t the same as business writing, the skill sets are related. If you distinguish yourself as a writer by some well-crafted emails, you may find that you’re given more writing responsibilities. You should also be aware that “copywriting” jobs are not the same as jobs that require you to write copy: copywriting is a term used to denote writers who specialize in marketing and PR or, perhaps more accurately, marketing professionals who specialize in writing.

How to Learn Business Writing

The ways to learn to become an effective business writer break down into two categories: synchronous and asynchronous. Those two fancy words (probably too fancy for a business email) distinguish between classes with a real-time teacher and self-paced classes. Class with a real-time teacher is the type of class you’ve been attending since kindergarten: students and instructors in the same place at the same time, exchanging questions for information. In-person business writing classes are a time-proven teaching modality. The advent of the internet (and the recent pandemic) have opened the way to another approach to teaching: business writing classes that use the internet as the classroom. These classes have proven very effective for busy adults, and live classes can now be followed from anywhere, with the same level of student participation as in an in-person class.

For their part, asynchronous classes have their share of advantages, especially for highly busy people with schedules into which they can’t manage to cram a live class. With asynchronous learning, you’re working with business writing videos and written materials provided online for you to follow at your own pace. Some classes offer quizzes and teacher supervision, while others don’t. A further form of asynchronous class is the instructional videos that abound on YouTube, although these leave students completely to their own devices. 

Read the full guide on how to learn business writing.

How Business Writing Has Changed

Business writing has changed immensely over the years. Once commerce had developed far enough (and writing had been invented), business writing came into existence. Cave dwellers probably didn’t need to write orders for rocks (or dinosaur steaks) by scraping rocks on other rocks. Still, with the invention of money by the Lydians in or around 700 BCE, there was a need for business correspondence, written on everything from clay tablets to papyrus and, eventually, paper.

Jumping to the Victorian era, paper and metal-nibbed pens had come into existence, and offices employed clerks to write out page after page of business correspondence in extremely formal and highly stylized language. Those two characteristics – formality and stylization – have remained with business writing throughout its subsequent history.

The invention and popularization of the typewriter put all those clerks out of business, opening working possibilities to women: The secretary. She needed to know more than just the rudiments of the business language in which she was taking down and typing: spelling was an important skill (a dictionary was always a tool of an accomplished secretary), as was the ability to tidy up the grammar of what was dictated to her. Bosses would often dictate outlines to their secretaries, fully trusting them to handle the formal and stylized language that went with a business letter.

This state of affairs changed – as did so much – with the advent of the computer and two particular aspects of digital life: word-processing software and email. This happened simultaneously with the decline of the secretary because the computer age required that everyone, even executives, be able to operate business machinery. Mr. X thus no longer told his secretary to get Mr. Y on the phone to tell him something; now, he sends Mr. Y an email directly. Not only does that mean that Mr. X no longer needs a secretary with a specific but refined skill set, but it also means that Mr. X has to be able to write an email. Indeed, pretty much everyone in today’s business world is responsible for their own written correspondence, be it an email to the physical plant department about a dying potted palm next to the elevator on the fifth floor or a business letter with important information for an influential client.

Business writing itself has changed accordingly. It has, except in the most formal circumstances, become (overall) more casual in tone. In keeping with that, it has become less stylized as well, as the set phrases secretaries used to be able to fill in fell by the wayside and people stopped noticing whether the salutation of an email was followed by a colon (more formal) or a comma (decidedly familiar.) Even in more formal times, no one spoke like a business letter.

The result of email as the preferred means of business communication is that more and more people are writing their business communication to colleagues, supervisors, team members, and clients. This has led to the adoption of a more oral style, the most noticeable aspect of which is the replacement of “Dear Mr. X” as an email salutation with “Hello!” or even “Hi!”. The shift in language has developed organically and has people writing in business in ways that would have been unthinkable forty years ago.

The two qualities most desired in today’s business writing are concision and clarity. People have grown too impatient to read through a paragraph of introductory politenesses and are often too impatient today to read through the substantive section of an email. The fact that so much business correspondence is read on mobile devices adds to that: whereas one used to have the luxury of an 8½” x 11” sheet of white paper to fill with typewritten characters, you now have to write for the compressed screen of a mobile phone. Business writing today strives to cut to the proverbial chase, and there are many schools of thought (and acronyms) for how to do this. The critical thing to remember here is that, unlike Dickens, you’re not being paid by the word when you write business correspondence.

Concision is pointless if the writing isn’t also clear, and it’s easier to trim something down to a couple of short paragraphs (gone also is the rule against one-sentence paragraphs) than it is to get precisely your meaning (and none other) into what you’re writing. Whereas concision applies to the form of your writing, clarity is a function of its substance and is harder to achieve. You need to know exactly what you want to say and organize your ideas carefully to write with the clarity today’s best business writing requires.

Although stylization in its old sense has vanished from the business writing horizon, it has been replaced in no small measure by “professional” jargon that, especially in the hands of a poor writer, can result in digital gobbledygook. Whether we like it or not, professional jargon is here to stay; anyone aspiring to be a business writer will have to get up on the terms of the industry in which they work and business in general.

One thing that remains vital is the role played by grammar and syntax. Concision and clarity are important goals, but your knowledge of the mechanics of writing in English has to be sound if you are to achieve them. You can’t succeed without a knowledge of those things, which is why classes for high school (and even college) graduates in English grammar are to be found alongside other classes in business writing. This is why there is so much lousy business writing out there today, and the opportunities for those who write well for business are significant.

Comparable Skills

Because of the ubiquity of business writing in today’s commercial landscape, it is more of a foundation than a skill. However, you will discover that business writing shares quite a bit in common with making effective presentations. The exact values of clarity and concision apply in oral presentations as much as in a written format. Learning how to organize your thoughts to make a presentation is similar to learning how to organize your thoughts for an email or other business correspondence. 

Knowing how to locate the beginning, middle, and end of a situation to relay in an email to your fellow team members is the same process as locating the beginning, middle, and end of what will become a presentation. There’s thus some significant carry-over from the thought processes involved in one to the other, and someone adept at organizing their ideas for written communication will be able to create far more compelling presentations than someone who can’t.

Learn Business Writing with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

An excellent way to learn business writing is to take an in-person course such as those offered by Noble Desktop, a tech and IT school in New York City that offers in-person and online classes. Noble provides its students with expert and experienced instructors who are always ready to answer students’ questions, whether they’re posed in the physical classroom or online. 

Noble Desktop’s classes offer several features, including small class sizes that guarantee you’ll receive ample attention from the instructor. The curriculum is hands-on, meaning that you’ll be making practical use of what you’re being taught while you’re still in class with exercises that allow your instructor to check on your progress. There is also a free retake option that enables you to repeat the class at no charge within a year of your first taking it. Far from just a means for those who fell behind to catch up, the free retake option makes it possible to cement what you’ve learned firmly in your mind. Classes are fast-paced, and you’re likely to discover that there’s some handy detail you missed the first time around.

Noble offers a Business Writing Bootcamp that begins by reviewing key points of grammar over which people are wont to stumble today. The course then delves into the hows and whys of written business communication in the contemporary world, be it for emails, reports, or other essential documents. And be aware that business writing is only one aspect of the business training classes offered by Noble Desktop.

Key Insights

  • Business writing is essential to all commercial activities today.
  • The style of business writing has changed over the years; it now relies on two factors: clarity and concision.
  • Good grammar never goes out of style.
  • You can learn business writing by taking an in-person or online course from Noble Desktop.

How to Learn Business Writing

Master business writing with hands-on training. Business writing consists of written communication in emails, memos, reports, and other business documentation.

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