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The Writing Process in the Information Age: Revising Business Messages

Make messages more concise by rejecting flabby expressions, long lead-ins, there is/are and it is/was fillers, redundancies, and empty words, as well as condensing for short social media posts.


Taking Time to Revise: Applying Phase 3 of the Writing Process

Writing Process:

  • Prewriting
  • Drafting
  • Revising


  • Revising: improving content and sentence structure
  • Proofreading: correcting grammar, spelling, punctuation,
    format, mechanics


Key Point: Revising takes the most time in the writing process.


Revising for Conciseness


Eliminate flabby expressions.

 Flabby                                                              Concise

at this point in time                                       now

due to the fact that                                       because

in very few cases                                            seldom

despite the fact that                                     although

in the near future                                           soon


Limit long lead-ins.



This is to let you know that Monday is a holiday.

Monday is a holiday.

I am sending this e-mail to announce that our internal audit begins on January 5.

Our internal audit begins on January 5.



Drop unnecessary there is/are and it is/was fillers.



There are at least ten candidates who applied for that position.

At least ten applicants applied for that position.


It was Becca Lopez who was finally selected.

Becca Lopez was finally selected.


Reject redundancies.



combined together


exact same

exact or same

my personal opinion

my opinion

refer back




Drafting Concise Posts for Social Media Networks

  • Focus on main, useful ideas.
  • Choose descriptive but short words.
  • Personalize whenever possible.
  • Be prepared to revise many times for conciseness, clarity, and correctness.


Tweet Reply to Unhappy Bank of America Customer

@BofA Help. Sorry you feel that way. If you change your mind and want to see if we can help, please DM yourname/zip/phone.


Learning Outcome 2

Enhance clarity in business messages by keeping the ideas simple, dumping trite business phrases, cutting clichés, shunning slang and buzzwords, rescuing buried verbs, restraining exuberance, and choosing precise words.


Making Your Message Clear

Keep it short and simple.



It would not be inadvisable for you to affix your signature at this point in time.

You should sign now.


Here are implements that are necessary for the job to be completed in a satisfactory manner.

Here are tools to do the job satisfactorily.



Dump trite business phrases.



pursuant to your request

as you request

please do not hesitate to


with reference to


enclosed please find



Drop clichés (worn phrases), slang (informal words with extravagant meanings), and business buzzwords.

Cliché, Slang, Buzzword


Get on the horn with my admin.

Please call my administrative assistant.

Hey, prof, what u think of my killer paper?

Professor, what did you think of my paper?

Our point man will telephonically communicate our relanguaged proposal to you.

Jake will call you with our revised proposal.


Unbury verbs that are needlessly converted to wordy noun expressions.

Buried Verbs



give consideration to


reach a conclusion


create a reduction in


make a decision about


take action



Control exuberance by using sparingly such words as very, definitely, quite, totally, etc.

Excessive Exuberance


We are actually very certain that they totally agree with our proposal.

We are certain that they agree with our proposal.


Jake was really extremely sorry that he completely forgot the meeting.

Jake was sorry that he forgot the meeting.



Express precise meaning.

Less Precise


More Precise


He said that he thought they should help out with the report.

The team leader told Jason and Chris that they should write sections of the report.

They called with a change in the meeting.


Our client XYZ called to reschedule the meeting from May 13 to May 16.


Learning Outcome 3

Improve readability by applying effective document design including the strategic use of white space, margins, typefaces, fonts, numbered and bulleted lists, and headings.


Enhancing Readability Through Document Design

Expand the use of white space by

  • Adding headings
  • Including bulleted or numbered lists
  • Using short sentences
  • Writing short paragraphs
  • Setting effective margins


Understanding Margins and Text Alignment

Setting margins

Use 1 to 1 ½ inch margins


Improving Readability With Effective Margins

Setting for Ragged-Right Margins

Ragged-right margins provide more white space and improve readability.


Choosing Appropriate Typefaces



Consider sans serif (such as Arial) for headings, signs, and material that does not require continuous reading.



Consider serif (such as Times New Roman) for body font. Notice that serif typefaces have small features at the end of strokes.


Typefaces for Different Purposes



Enhancing Readability Through Document Design

Use 10- to 12-pt. font for most body text.

For special effects consider:







Enhancing Comprehension With Lists and Numbered Items

Use numbered lists (1, 2, 3) for items that show a sequence.
Use bulleted lists for related but unordered items.


Numbered List

Follow these steps in starting a business:

  1. Write a business plan.
  2. Locate venture capital.
  3. Prepare a feasibility study.


Bulleted List

Consider the following:

  • Environmental regulations
  • Employee benefit plans
  • Licensing requirements









Making Listed Items Parallel

Employ parallel (balanced) construction when listing similar ideas.

Not Parallel


Social media goals:

•        We are striving to create brand awareness.

•        Another goal is to enhance public relations.

•        A community of advocates must be built.

•        We expect it to drive sales and create leads.

Social media goals:

•        Create brand awareness.

•        Enhance public relations.

•        Build a community of advocates.

•        Drive sales and create leads.


Boosting Readability Through Document Design

Add headings to enhance comprehension.

Types of headings to consider

  • Main headings
  • Subheadings
  • Category headings


Summarizing in Short Category Headings

The company needs to focus attention in three key areas:

Attracting applicants. We must analyze where and how we advertise for applicants, specifically,
online job boards. . .

Interviewing applicants. We should consider adding a simulated customer encounter to the process.
Simulated. . . .

Checking references. We’ll find better candidates if we contact all references, not just former employers.  Currently, the. . . .


Learning Outcome 4

Identify proofreading problem areas, and apply smart techniques to catch mistakes in both routine and complex documents.


Proofreading to Catch Mistakes

What to Watch for in Proofreading

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Names and numbers
  • Format


How to Proofread Routine Documents

To read messages on-screen:

               Use the down arrow to reveal one line at a time.

               Read from a printed copy, to be safer.

  • Look for typos, misspellings, and easily confused words.
  • Study the document for inconsistencies and ambiguous expressions.
  • Look for factual errors.


How to Proofread Complex Documents

  1. Print a copy, preferably double spaced.
  2. Set it aside and take a breather.
  3. Allow adequate time for careful proofing.
  4. Expect errors and congratulate yourself when you find them.
  5. Read the message at least twice–once for meaning and once for grammar and mechanics.
  6. Reduce your reading speed and focus on individual words.


To Revise Manually, Use Basic Proofreading Marks

  • Delete
  • Capitalize
  • Lowercase (don’t capitalize)
  • Transpose
  • Close up


To Revise Manually, Use Basic Proofreading Marks

  • Insert
  • Insert space
  • Insert punctuation
  • Insert period
  • Start paragraph

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