Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing the 10 Cs of business writing, part of Business Writing Principles.
- [Voiceover] If you want to help improve the chances that your message will be read, or be understood the way you intended, and make a good impression on your reader, understanding and applying the C's to your writing as you plan and revise, can help you accomplish those goals. A writer has a right to expect every message to be complete and concise, clear, conversational, courteous, correct, coherent, considerate, concrete, and credible.
Even though these are listed in distinctive categories, they're not mutually exclusive, they do overlap. For example, a message may be unclear because it is incomplete. Or a writer may be inconsiderate of the reader by sending a message that is filled with incorrect punctuation. Or the reader's name is spelled incorrectly. But looking at them in categories helps us more easily discuss what makes an effective message for our audience. Let's take a brief look at each C. Complete: Did you provide the reader with the information that he or she needs so follow-up questions aren't necessary? Concise: Did you use the fewest number of words possible, so your reader doesn't have to wade through superfluous information? Is it clear, have you thought about what your reader knows and doesn't know, and the words you choose to use? Or, are you writing based on what you know, or what makes sense to you? Is it conversational, does your writing sound as though you are writing to a human or to a robot? Courteous: Is your tone pleasant, and have you shown the reader how he or she benefits from your information or policy? Or, does the message sound demanding, and it is all about the writer's interest? Is it correct? At first glance, does your message look professional, and give a first good impression? Or does it give the impression that it was hurriedly prepared? Is it coherent, do you leave your reader thinking that the ideas are jumbled or that they tie together smoothly? Be considerate.
When a reader looks at your document, does it look inviting to read with bullets and headings, or does it use one or two long paragraphs, with no signpost to help guide the reader through the message? Concrete: Have you included specifics, or are vague, meaningless words used? Credible: Are reliable facts given from sources that can be located, or is the information from an unknown source such as the grapevine? You need first to understand each C. Once you understand and can apply the concept in your writing, the next step is to keep revising until you have applied each C and are recognized as an effective business writer.
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