In business writing, focus can be placed on the customer through using the second person pronoun, you. This pronoun is other-directed, showing that your main concern is to serve the interest of your customer. It also applies in internal communications, where you again place the emphasis on the person you are addressing in your communication. From a psychological perspective, readers appreciate the fact that you are acknowledging their concerns and focusing on them as your primary purpose. Pronoun Usage In looking at you-attitude , you need to review the basic pronouns to see how “you” becomes the most effective choice. Pronouns are divided into person and number. Therefore, your choices are:
First person singular I First person plural we Second person singular you Second person plural you Third person singular he, she, it Third person plural they Each has an appropriate function. However, first person and third person work against the function you want to use to focus on the reader. First person focuses on self-interest: I, me, mine, we, ours. Third person focuses on an objective third party: he, him, his; she, her, hers; it, its. You want your readers to feel that the focus is on them. Readability The most effective reader style provides readability . Always remember that business writing is designed to communicate clearly. You and the audience share a mutual interest, a common bond, which can be strengthened through a readable style. Obstacles to readability are difficult or unfamiliar words, complicated sentences with extensive punctuation, and long, dense paragraphs. To achieve readability: Choose commonly understood words. Short sentences of about 18-20 words on average. Short paragraphs of about six to eight lines of print. The technical term for word choice is diction , whereas the technical term for sentence structure is syntax . Indexes have been generated to determine the level of education needed to read a written document. The Gunning Fog Index is the best known of these indexes. Levels of Style One major feature of style is formality. In dress, it can be a choice such as formal or business casual. In cars, it can be a choice of a sports car or a minivan. In writing, there are four basic choices in style: Formal (literary) multi-syllabic words, long sentences, long paragraphs, and extensive internal punctuation. Informal (college educated) multi-syllabic words, moderate length of sentences and paragraphs, and moderate internal punctuation. Colloquial (Conversational) Familiar words, short sentences, short paragraphs, and little internal punctuation. Slang (Substandard) popular jargon words, fragmentary sentences, short paragraphs and little or no internal punctuation. In business writing, the informal or colloquial styles provide the best readability.
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- Spring '08
- Business, Writer, Grammatical person