Written communication refers to the exchange of information and ideas through written symbols, such as letters, words, or symbols.
It is a fundamental aspect of human interaction and a crucial means of conveying information, instructions, and ideas in both personal and professional settings.
Importance of written communication
In today’s global and fast-paced world, written communication is a crucial tool for conveying information, establishing relationships, and building trust with others.
In the business world, written communication is essential for building professional relationships, making decisions, and achieving goals.
Written messages can provide a permanent record of important information and decisions, and they allow individuals and organizations to communicate effectively with people who are located in different parts of the world.
Benefits of Written communication
- Permanent record: It creates a permanent record of information and ideas, which can be referred to later for reference or to track progress.
- Clarity: Written communication allows for clear and concise language, which can help to avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the intended message is conveyed accurately.
- Organization: Writing things down allows for better organization and structure, making it easier to convey complex ideas and information.
- Reach: Written communication can reach a wider audience, as it can be shared and distributed easily and quickly, even across great distances.
- Professionalism: It can help to establish a professional image and tone, which can be important in both personal and professional relationships.
- Evidence: Written communication can provide concrete evidence of agreements, decisions, and transactions, making it a valuable tool in legal and business contexts.
- Reflection: Writing things down can also be a useful tool for reflection and self-expression, allowing individuals to articulate their thoughts and emotions in a clear and meaningful way.
- Accessibility: Written communication can be accessed and reviewed at any time, which can be important in situations where immediate feedback is not possible.
Types of written communication
- Emails: Emails are one of the most common forms of written communication, used for both personal and professional purposes. They are useful for quick and efficient communication, and they allow individuals to reach others across great distances.
- Letters: Letters are a more formal type of written communication, often used for personal correspondence, business communication, and legal correspondence. They are useful for more formal or important communication that requires a more professional tone.
- Reports: Reports are detailed written documents that summarize information, findings, and recommendations. They are useful for presenting information and data in a clear and organized way, and they are often used in business, academic, and government settings.
- Memos: Memos are brief written documents used for internal communication within an organization. They are useful for conveying important information and updates within a company or group.
- Text Messages: Text messages are short written messages sent via mobile phones. They are useful for quick and informal communication, and they are particularly useful for staying in touch with others when phone calls are not convenient.
- Social Media Posts: Social media posts are short written messages posted on social media platforms. They are useful for reaching a large audience and for sharing personal thoughts and experiences with friends and followers.
- Newsletters: Newsletters are regular written updates sent to subscribers, often used by organizations to keep customers and stakeholders informed about company news, products, and events.
Communication types – what to do and not to do
Just for an overview, I constructed a table about the communication types with a few examples of the dos and don’ts for each type of written communication.
The most important thing is to consider the purpose and audience of the message, as well as the context in which the message is being sent, in order to determine the most appropriate type of written communication to use.
Type of Written Communication
– quick and efficient communication.
– clear and concise language.
– Do include a professional signature and subject line.
– Don’t use emails for sensitive or confidential information.
– Don’t send emails when a phone call or in-person conversation is more appropriate.
– use letters for formal or important communication.
– use a professional tone and language.
– Don’t use letters for quick or informal communication.
– Don’t include sensitive or confidential information.
– use reports to present information and data in a clear and organized way.
– include supporting evidence and data.
– use clear and concise language.
– Don’t use reports for quick or informal communication.
– Don’t include irrelevant information.
– Don’t use (technical) jargon without explanation.
– use memos for internal communication within an organization.
– keep memos brief and to the point.
– Don’t use memos for sensitive or confidential information.
– Don’t make memos too lengthy or detailed.
– use text messages for quick and informal communication.
– Do use text messages when phone calls are not convenient.
– Don’t use text messages for formal or important communication.
– Don’t use text messages to convey sensitive or confidential information.
– Don’t send lengthy or complex messages via text.
Social Media Posts
– use social media posts to reach a large audience.
– use social media to share thoughts and experiences.
– consider the audience and context of the post.
– Don’t use social media to post sensitive or confidential information.
– Don’t use social media to harass or bully others.
– Don’t post inappropriate or offensive content.
– use newsletters to keep customers and stakeholders informed about company news, products, and events.
– include clear and concise information.
– use engaging language and visuals.
– Don’t use newsletters for sensitive or confidential information.
– Don’t include irrelevant information.
– Don’t send newsletters too frequently or with too much content.
Effective Written Communication Techniques
Here are examples of techniques that can be used to improve your written communication.
The most important thing is to experiment with these techniques and find the ones that work best for you.
- Clarity and Concision: When writing, it is important to be clear and concise in order to effectively convey your message. Use simple, direct language and avoid using overly complex sentences or technical jargon. This will help to ensure that your message is easily understood by your audience.
- Active Voice: Writing in the active voice, as opposed to the passive voice, makes your writing more engaging and easier to understand. Active voice sentences are shorter, more direct, and convey action in a way that is easy to understand.
- Varying Sentence Structure: Using a variety of sentence structures helps to make your writing more interesting and engaging. This includes using short and long sentences, as well as varying sentence beginnings. Varying sentence structure also helps to keep your reader’s attention and makes your writing more engaging.
- Using Visuals: Including visual elements, such as charts, diagrams, or images, can help to reinforce your message and make your writing more interesting and engaging. Visuals can also help to clarify complex information or concepts.
- Tone and Voice: The tone and voice you use in your writing can greatly impact how your message is received by your audience. When writing, consider the tone and voice that is most appropriate for your message and audience. For example, a more formal tone may be appropriate for a business report, while a more informal tone may be more appropriate for a personal email.
- Using Examples and Analogies: Including examples and analogies can help to clarify complex concepts and make your writing more accessible and engaging to your audience.
- Creating a Clear Structure: Organizing your writing into a clear structure, such as using headings, bullet points, and paragraphs, can help to make your message more readable and easy to understand.
- Emphasizing Key Points: Highlighting key points or information by using bold or italic text, or by using headings, can help to emphasize important information and make it stand out to your audience.
- Using Emotional Appeal: Writing that evokes an emotional response from the reader can be more impactful and memorable. This can be achieved by using storytelling, including personal anecdotes, or using language that appeals to the reader’s emotions.
- Proofreading and Editing: Finally, it is important to proofread and edit your writing before submitting it. This can help to catch any typos, grammatical errors, or unclear phrasing, and ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and effective.
Take a look at the
Common mistakes in written communication
There are many common mistakes that can occur in written communication, which can detract from the effectiveness of your message. Here are a few common mistakes to watch out for:
- Poor Grammar and Spelling: Poor grammar and spelling can detract from the professionalism of your writing and make it difficult for your audience to understand your message. Be sure to carefully proofread your writing and correct any grammatical or spelling errors. English is not my native language, so I use Grammarly and Quillbot to correct my texts.
- Inadequate Clarity and Concision: Writing that is overly verbose or uses technical jargon can be difficult for your audience to understand. It is important to write clearly and concisely, using simple, direct language to effectively convey your message.
- Inconsistent Tone and Voice: Inconsistent tone and voice can make your writing seem disjointed and can detract from its effectiveness. When writing, consider the tone and voice that is most appropriate for your message and audience, and aim to maintain a consistent tone and voice throughout your writing.
- Lack of Organization: Writing that lacks a clear structure or organization can be difficult for your audience to follow and can detract from its impact. Be sure to organize your writing into a clear structure, using headings, bullet points, and paragraphs, to help make your message more readable and easy to understand.
- Overreliance on Slang or Colloquialisms: Overreliance on slang or colloquialisms can make your writing seem unprofessional or difficult for a wider audience to understand. Consider the audience for your writing and use language that is appropriate for that audience.
Improving your writing skills
Improving your writing skills requires time, effort, and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement. Here are some strategies you can use to improve your writing skills:
- Read extensively: Reading widely in a variety of genres and styles can help to expand your vocabulary and improve your writing style.
- Practice writing regularly: Regular writing practice is crucial to improving your writing skills. This can include writing in a journal, composing emails and letters, or writing short stories or essays.
- Seek feedback: Asking others to review your writing and provide feedback can help you identify areas for improvement and gain valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
- Study grammar and style guides: Familiarizing yourself with grammar and style guides, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or The Elements of Style, can help you improve your writing by giving you a better understanding of the rules of writing and how to apply them effectively.
- Take online writing courses or workshops: There are many online writing courses and workshops available that can help you improve your writing skills. These can range from basic grammar and punctuation courses to more advanced creative writing workshops.
- Edit your own work: Carefully reviewing and editing your own writing can help you catch mistakes, refine your writing style, and improve the overall clarity and effectiveness of your writing.
- Experiment with different writing styles: Experimenting with different writing styles and genres can help you to develop your writing skills and find your own unique voice as a writer.
Two top-selling books about written communication are:
- “On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction” by William Zinsser – This book is a classic guide to writing nonfiction and is widely regarded as one of the best books on writing. It covers a wide range of topics, including writing style, tone, structure, and grammar, and provides practical advice for improving your writing skills.
- “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White – This book is a concise guide to writing clear and effective prose. It covers the basic principles of good writing, including the use of active voice, proper word choice, and clear sentence structure, and provides examples of good writing to illustrate these principles.