Professionals use various examples of business writing to communicate with their coworkers, employees and clients. The intended purpose of these business communications can impact their format or content. When you understand the different types of business writing, you can use that knowledge to communicate more effectively and engage your readers. In this article, we explain the different types of business writing, provide common examples and offer tips to improve your skills.
Types of business writing
Business writing refers to written communications conducted with colleagues, supervisors, clients and other business stakeholders. The content or purpose of these communications can vary based on the category of business writing. This list outlines the four general types of business writing:
Instructional: Instructional business writing aims to provide directions or guidance to readers. For example, a user manual may give employees a step-by-step process for completing a task.
Informational: Informational business writing serves the purpose of informing readers or recording business-related information. For example, a financial statement documents a business’ financial performance and related activities.
Persuasive: Persuasive business writing convinces or influences its readers, typically to make them feel positive about something. For example, organizations use proposals to showcase their business and gain contracts with clients.
Transactional: Transactional business writing refers to day-to-day communications conducted at work or related to business. For example, a consultant working on a project may send an invoice to their client detailing their services and related billing information.
Common examples of business writing
You can use the following list to learn about eight common examples of business writing that you may encounter in the workplace:
A business letter serves as an example of transactional business writing. It refers to a formal, printed document an individual sends to a colleague, supervisor or professional associate. Typically, individuals use this type of business writing when conducting employment- or business-related communications.
For example, an employee may write a resignation letter to convey their decision to leave a job. Or a sales professional may send sales letters to their customers to introduce a new product and describe its features. There are several types of business letters, including:
Business proposal letters
Letters of recommendation
Interview follow-up letters
Letters of resignation
Though the content varies, business letters tend to follow a defined format. It must include the contact information of both the sender and recipient, a formal salutation, a closing statement and the sender’s signature. The body of the letter may be comprised of one or several paragraphs conveying the intended message. Due to its formal nature and the time it can take to send one, this type of business writing is not suitable for sending messages quickly.
An email is another example of transactional business writing. It likely represents the type of business writing that professionals use most regularly. Using email, the sender can convey their message to a recipient almost instantly via the internet.
Typically, an individual sends an email to colleagues or clients to provide information or ask them to take action on something. For example, a supervisor may send an email to one of their employees asking them to gather research on a new product. Or a team working on a project may send an email with details about their progress to the client.
Like a business letter, business emails often include a salutation, closing statement and the sender’s contact information. While emails tend to be a less formal communication method, they must still follow appropriate language and grammar to demonstrate professionalism in the workplace.
Typically, an email is relatively brief and conveys a single message or purpose because recipients may not spend too much time reading emails. One essential element of an email is its subject line, which can provide context on what the reader can expect to find in its message.
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A business memo represents an example of instructional business writing. It is a brief, less formal method of communicating information within an organization. Typically, companies use memos for mass communications rather than personal messages. For example, the human resources department may send a memo regarding changes to company procedures or policies to employees. Or a manager could send one to internal stakeholders informing them of the launch of a new product.
A memo is typically a brief message focused on one purpose, so it should not take long to read. While less formal than a report or business letter, it still needs to maintain language appropriate for the workplace. Like other business writing types, memos can include an introduction, body paragraph, conclusion and the sender’s contact information. Memos often use a header to inform recipients of the message’s purpose and may incorporate other details, such as the date.
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.
A handbook or manual serves as another example of instructional business writing. An employee handbook provides information to employees to ensure they understand and comply with company policies and procedures.
Some employees receive manuals that provide instructions they can follow to perform their job or complete specific tasks. Depending on the organization’s size, the business owner or a human resources department may help draft this document. They may also consult a lawyer to help draft language around any legal terms and conditions.
A handbook instructs employees, so it must use straightforward and concise language to ensure their understanding. It also incorporates important information that employees need to know to perform their job or follow company standards. For example, a handbook describes companies’ policies regarding compensation, dress code, time-off and schedules. It may also provide information about a company, such as its mission, values, history and employment terms. Employees need all this information in an easy-to-understand manner to help empower them at work.
A business report represents an example of informational business writing. This type of document outlines important information about the business or a specific project. Typically, its purpose is to provide data, research and other information to help managers, executives or other stakeholders make business-related decisions. Businesses use various types of reports, such as:
Writing a business report requires objectivity rather than inserting one’s personal opinions on the subject. Readers must rely on the facts, research and data contained within it to make a decision. However, reports that incorporate recommendation sections allow for some opinions when the author suggests possible solutions to problems. The format may vary, but business reports typically include the following elements:
Table of contents
A meeting agenda serves as another example of informational business writing. It is a document that outlines the topics covered during a meeting and the goals it aims to achieve. The person leading the meeting may draft the agenda or delegate the task to someone else.
This document sets the plan, and each attendee receives a printed copy to help them follow along and stay on topic. This type of business writing is essential because it can help make meetings more efficient and productive.
A meeting agenda serves as an outline, so it does not require formal writing. Instead, it can use incomplete sentences, shorthand or bullet points. The writer also incorporates a schedule of events—they identify questions or information to address, tasks to complete and the people who will handle them. It also defines how much time to allot to each task or topic. The meeting agenda also may include other details, such as the date, time and location of the meeting.
A press release can serve as an example of persuasive business writing. Organizations use press releases to share announcements or news with an external audience. Typically, they have a communications or public relations department that handles this task.
Companies can publish a press release on their website or news publications, whether online or in newspapers. Its purpose is often to promote an organization or build its reputation—although an organization sometimes must use a press release in response to negative news or events.
Because press releases reach the public, they need to use professional language and accurate information. It should not exceed 500 words to keep readers engaged. Often, writers can add interest or a more personal element by incorporating testimonials or quotes from relevant stakeholders.
A newsletter is an example of business writing that organizations can use internally and externally. While internal newsletters serve an informational purpose, external newsletters can be a persuasive form of business writing.
An organization may have internal staff, such as communications or human resources departments, that write and distribute a scheduled newsletter that provides news and other important information about the company to employees. Or they may send a newsletter on a regular schedule, such as monthly, to their customers to keep them informed about the company and its promote products or services.
Newsletters typically represent a less formal type of business writing. Internal company newsletters may use more relaxed language to build excitement about upcoming events, celebrate recent successes or highlight impressive employees.
Similarly, external newsletters tend to use a more casual style to appeal and relate to their customers. Newsletters can also incorporate visual elements to make readers more engaged. The format can vary, but companies should try to stay consistent with their style to ensure recipients know what to expect each time.
Tips for effective business writing
If you want to improve your skills, try incorporating some of the following advice in your next written business communication:
Keep it concise
When corresponding with fellow professionals, try to keep your message brief. During work hours, your recipients may not have much time to read your message. Cut out any unnecessary words or irrelevant information and keep your messages focused on your main point.
Tailor to your audience
Before writing, think about your readers. This step can help you determine what type of content is and is not necessary, along with the appropriate language and tone to use. For example, when writing to someone outside your industry, you should avoid using industry jargon that may not be familiar to them. Or an email to a supervisor may require a more formal tone than the one you send to a close coworker.
Split up the text
Some people find it difficult to read or focus on large text blocks. Split different ideas into new paragraphs or use bullet points to convey ideas quickly to readers. You can also incorporate elements such as headings to add context or demonstrate your main ideas.
If you have specific types of business communications you use regularly, try to find or create templates to make the process more efficient. For example, templates enable you to fill in the blanks rather than start over every time you need to write a meeting agenda, for example. Some companies even provide templates to employees to ensure documents, such as business reports or presentations, maintain consistency.
Proofread your work
You must always review your documents before sending or submitting them. Make sure to fix and remove any spelling, grammatical or other errors. A mistake-free document impresses readers and demonstrates your professionalism. You may also want to have a colleague read it to ensure you did not miss anything.
I hope you find this article helpful.