Business Writing

Follow your organisation’s style guidelines

Organisations often like documents that they create to have a similar look and fell. Such organisations have style guidelines designed to make sure documents look clean and professional, and to make sure that their ‘brand’ is consistent.

Word-processing software is very powerful and we can easily use it to create different fonts. Sometimes, it’s too easy and we might be tempted to create something like the following text:

Business English

Too often people think that that if two fonts are good in a document (one for headings, one for body text), then three or four, or even five, must be better. They combine bold, underlining and italics to create text that is difficult to read. Sometimes they even decide to use ALL CAPS to show that what they have written is really important.

If you organisation does not have style guidelines, think about creating some. Look at some documents that you think are well laid out and analyse their spacing, formatting, and use of white space. Also consider which version of English you are going to use (usually UK or US) and how you are going to write numbers. Is it ‘centre’ or ‘center’, ‘eleven’ or ‘11’?

Document the style and use it for your own documents.

Major media organisations often have their style guidelines available online and they can be an excellent starting point for you so you don’t have to develop guidelines from scratch.

Using a consistent style makes you look professional. The consistency becomes part of your brand image. Always remember that when you send something from work you are representing the organisation and its brand, so you want it to be the best that you can make it.