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Notes on Coursera Business Writing Course

  • Clarity above all.
  • Don’t waste the reader’s time. “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter” - Blaise Pascal.
  • The look makes a difference. Make your text easier on the eyes. Use bullet points, white space, shorter sentences, margins, boldface, etc .
  • Be smart: don’t try to sound smart. Avoid jargon.
  • Be the authority: don’t use “I’m thinking”, “in my opinion”, etc.
  • Scaffold well to write well. Structure you text in 3 phases: say what you want to say, say it, repeat it.
  • One idea per paragraph
  • Every paragraph should start with a strong sentence on the paragraph’s topic.
  • Start with your purpose, not the motivation or justification for it.
  • The text may become too mechanical after revising. Keep your “voice” in your document by reading it out loud.
  • If you find duplicate sentences, cut out the negative sounding ones first.
  • Grammar matters.
  • Grammar - I vs me: use I if it’s a subject
  • Attribute modifiers like adjectives need to one of the nouns. Make them adjacent.
  • pronouns are words that take the place of nouns, like I, he, them. They refer to the closest antecedent noun.
  • Think of the writing from your reader perspective
  • Cut adjectives and adverbs; qualifiers and amplifiers; “in fact”, “possibly”, “generally”, etc
  • Cut out generalities like “everyone knows”, they often include the words: all everybody, everywhere, etc. You may need to rewrite sentences to make them more specific if they include words like: some, somebody, etc.
  • use an active voice: “Bob did X”, not “X was done by Bob”. Passive voice is longer, less clear, and less emphatic. But it’s acceptable in scientific papers because it sounds more impartial.
  • Limit verbs “to be” and “to have”. Including forms is, am, are, were, was, will be, have, has, had, have been and more.

Ref: Business Writing course on Coursera