Business Writing Essentials


It's okay to spice up your writing at work. It's not okay to overdo it. A modicum of spice is appropriate when cooking; too much can ruin the meal. When you edit your first drafts, always be on the lookout for the worst forms of drivel:

Common Cliches

These are accepted, and even expected, by readers of blogs and newspapers. They are even acceptable in your writing at work. What is not acceptable is overusing them.

in hot water (in trouble)

run of the mill (typical)

Corporate Cliches

These are verbal shortcuts we use at work. Too often, however, people use them to hedge their commitments by not being clear. Try not to do that.

touch base (talk)

push back (resistance)

Legal Mumbo Jumbo

It's natural to feel the need to write like an attorney when writing something important at work. After all, it's what we're exposed to in the important documents at home, such as contracts. If you're not an attorney, avoid the temptation to write like one.

cease and desist (stop)

until such time as (until)

Corporate Mumbo Jumbo

If you overuse trendy business words, you're likely to look both pompous and desperate. Maintain reader respect by avoiding this dismal drivel.

leverage (use)

incent (offer incentives for*)

*yes, there are alternatives:

entice, encourage, exhort, impel, incite, induce, motivate, spur, stimulate, urge

You know that guy? That guy who uses all kinds of cliches and mumbo jumbo to make himself look smart or important? Don't be that guy.

Lesson: Drivel
Module: Style
Course: Business Writing Essentials