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What is business writing? What are the skills needed for a business writer?

Updated: Jul 15

Everything you need to know about business writing

The content market is booming, irrespective of what pessimists have to say. In a world where everyone’s running to ChatGPT and other AI products to do their content writing, it might be easy to believe that there’s no real future for writers. It’s exactly the other way round.

Good writers are now easy to recognize. It’s not difficult to see writing with a bit of soul because there’s a ton of content with none.

One of the places where human writers are still very much in demand is business writing and that’s what this blog is about. We will look at what business writing is, why it’s important, what it consists of, and how you can become one!

So, let’s get started.

What is business writing?

The first thing that you need to know about business writing is that it’s an umbrella term. It doesn’t actually refer to a particular ‘style’ or ‘type’ of writing.

Business writing is any writing that’s written to communicate a business’s idea to its potential customers in clean, clear, concise, and professional language. There’s no ‘set’ format for business writing, either.

It could be emails, memos, proposals, business plans, reports — anything that a business wants to communicate.

Business writing isn’t just used by big corporations, either. In fact, small businesses rely a lot on business writing. Content marketing helps small and medium businesses far more than huge conglomerates and therefore, business writing is very much a part of small and medium-sized businesses’ content plans.

What is the point of business writing?

There are multiple reasons why companies adopt business writing. It’s not just about producing and publishing content. Business writing is a way to inform audiences, persuade potential clients, convince investors, and document developments in a company.

The ideal business ‘copy’ is not just a document that conveys facts and figures but also a great tool to build a positive perception of the company in the minds of customers and investors. We’ll take a deeper look at this shortly but suffice to say, business writing isn’t just about sharing information. It’s much, much more.

Types of business writing

As mentioned earlier, business writing, at its heart, is for professional communication that serves specific business-related purposes. So, the language is usually direct, clear, and concise, and the aim is to get to the point.

But here’s the catch — while brevity and clarity are key, business writing isn't devoid of creativity. On the contrary, it often requires ingenuity to make complex ideas or data comprehensible and engaging.

So, what are some of the types of business writing?

  1. Business Emails: The backbone of day-to-day business communication, business emails range from internal updates to external correspondence with clients or partners.

  2. Reports: These provide detailed information on a specific topic, such as a project progress report, financial report, or market research report.

  3. Proposals: These documents are drafted to suggest a plan or a project, like a business proposal or a project proposal, and aim to persuade the reader to agree with the suggested plan.

  4. Business Letters: Though less common in the digital era, business letters remain a formal mode of communication for significant announcements, acknowledgments, or introductions.

  5. Business Plans: These provide a strategic overview of a business, including its objectives, market analysis, financial projections, and operational plans.

  6. Memos: Primarily used for internal communication, memos are brief, concise messages that share important information within an organization.

All these forms of writing, as you can clearly see, are formal. Unlike creative writing where you have a poetic license or academic writing where you get into complexities, business writing is all about precise, practical writing. As a business writer, you’re delivering a very specific message to your audience and mostly within a business context.

The language of business writing — clarity, brevity, and when to use jargon

Business writing is often regarded as a language of its own. Its nuances, from clarity and brevity to the judicious use of jargon, can significantly influence the effectiveness of your message.

Let’s look at a few important elements of business writing:


Firstly, clarity is the cornerstone of effective business writing. It's about expressing your ideas in a way that your reader can easily comprehend. Remember, your aim isn't to impress your audience with complex sentences or sophisticated vocabulary but to ensure they grasp your message accurately.

Be explicit, avoid ambiguity, and ensure your writing is logically structured. Time is a valuable commodity in the business world, and clear writing respects your reader's time by delivering your message succinctly.

Brevity in business writing

Brevity, the art of being concise, is another vital aspect. The business world thrives on efficiency, and this extends to communication.

The goal is to express your ideas as briefly as possible without sacrificing clarity or meaning. Avoid unnecessary words or information, keep your sentences short, and get straight to the point. But remember, being concise doesn't mean being curt; maintain a polite and professional tone throughout.

Specificity of business writing

Specificity, the third pillar of business language, ensures precision in your message. Instead of vague statements, provide concrete details and actionable information. For instance, instead of writing "The project will be completed soon," specify the date: "The project will be completed by May 30th."

Jargon in business writing

Then comes jargon, the specialized language used in a specific industry or profession. When used appropriately, jargon can enhance communication, demonstrating your expertise and aligning with your audience's understanding.

However, misuse or overuse can cloud your message and alienate readers unfamiliar with the terms.

As a rule of thumb, use jargon only when you're sure your audience understands it. If in doubt, opt for plain language or provide a brief explanation.

Formal or informal writing

Lastly, the choice between formal and informal language in business writing hinges on the context and your relationship with the reader.

Formal language, often used in reports, proposals, or official correspondence, conveys professionalism and respect.

Informal language, on the other hand, can make your writing feel more personal and approachable, as seen in internal communications or casual business emails.

Adapt your style based on the situation, always ensuring your tone is respectful and appropriate.

Essential skills for a business writer

Business writing is all about conveying the right message in the right way. This means that there are a few important skills that every business writer should master.

Let’s look at those now:


Obviously, grammar is crucial to all writing. However, it plays an even more important role when it comes to business writing.

As a business writer, you’re not writing as a person. It’s not your brand that’s doing the talking (we’ve got a great guide on building your brand, by the way. Do take a look here if you’re interested).

You’re writing as a business. You’re representing the business.

This means that grammatical errors and misplaced punctuation can reflect quite badly on the business you’re representing. It can make the brand look bad.

On the other hand, flawless grammar and punctuation reflect positively on you and your organization, demonstrating attention to detail, professionalism, and respect for the reader.

So, whether you're drafting an email, writing a report, or crafting a business proposal, ensure your writing is grammatically sound and punctuated correctly.


Whether you're persuading a customer to purchase your product, an investor to fund your project, or a team member to adopt a new process, persuasive writing is key. This involves presenting your arguments logically, backing them with solid evidence, and appealing to the reader's interests and needs.

Persuasive business writing isn't about manipulation; instead, it's about presenting a compelling case that aligns with the reader's interests.

Effective persuasion is all about understanding your audience, structuring your arguments logically, and employing rhetorical techniques such as ethos, pathos, and logos.

It's a skill that, when honed, can significantly enhance your influence and effectiveness in the business world.

A professional tone:

Your tone reflects your attitude toward the reader and the subject matter. A professional tone is respectful, confident, and unbiased.

However, it doesn't mean being robotic or impersonal. You can maintain a professional tone while being friendly and approachable, depending on the context.

Your voice, on the other hand, is your unique style or personality that shines through your writing.

Even in business writing, a distinct voice can make your writing more engaging and relatable. However, it's important to keep it consistent and appropriate for the situation.

Real-world Applications of Business Writing: Emails, Proposals, and Reports

Though there are a number of applications of business writing in the real world, we’re going to take a look at three of the most important ones.

Business emails

Business emails are the lifeblood of professional communication.

Think of emails that companies keep sending you. You know, the ones you never open. Those are examples of bad business writing.

Emails that incorporate the principles of good business writing are clear, concise, and courteous.

The subject line should indicate the email's purpose, compelling the recipient to open it.

The body of the email should get straight to the point, with your main message in the opening lines.

Be concise, but ensure you provide all necessary details. Use a professional and respectful tone, regardless of the email's nature.

And before hitting send, ensure your email is free of typos or grammatical errors - these can undermine your message and your professionalism.

Business proposals:

Business proposals are your ticket to convincing clients, investors, or partners to buy into your idea or project.

Persuasive writing is key here - you need to present a compelling case that your proposal is beneficial, feasible, and better than alternatives.

Start by understanding your audience's needs and interests. Then, present your proposal in a logical, structured manner, highlighting the benefits, outlining the plan, and addressing potential concerns.

Use facts, figures, or case studies to back your claims and enhance your credibility. And remember, while your proposal should be persuasive, it should also be honest and realistic.


Reports are the bread-and-butter documents of business writers. You’re informing, analyzing, and facilitating decision-making.

Whether it's a project update, a financial analysis, or a market research report, your goal is to provide a concise yet comprehensive overview of the topic at hand.

Start with a clear purpose statement, outlining what the report covers and why it's important. Organize your content logically, using headings and subheadings to guide the reader.

Present your findings or analysis clearly, using charts or graphs if necessary to visualize complex data.

And wrap up with a conclusion that summarizes the key points and, if appropriate, provides recommendations.

Transitioning from Other Types of Writing to Business Writing: A Shift in Perspective

Making the leap from other types of writing to business writing can feel like a daunting task. However, with a thoughtful approach and a willingness to adapt, you can leverage your existing writing skills and smoothly transition into the realm of business writing.

First off, let's discuss skills transfer. Many skills from other forms of writing can be beneficial in business writing.

For instance, if you have a background in creative writing, you'll likely have a strong command of language and the ability to engage readers, which can be valuable in making your business writing more compelling.

Similarly, experience in academic writing can enhance your ability to structure arguments and present complex information, which is crucial in reports or proposals.

However, it's important to understand the differences between these forms of writing and business writing.

Business writing is typically more direct, concise, and purpose-driven. It prioritizes clarity over complexity, brevity over verbosity, and action over abstraction. So, while you can leverage your existing skills, you'll also need to adapt them to meet the unique demands of business writing.

Adapting your writing style to business needs is a critical part of this transition. This involves embracing simplicity over sophistication, getting straight to the point, and focusing on the reader's needs and interests.

Use plain language, keep your sentences short and structured, and ensure your message is clear and actionable.

Also, adapt your tone based on the situation - while a professional tone is generally expected, a friendly or approachable tone can be appropriate in certain contexts.

Here are three tips to make your transition to business writing smooth

  1. Immerse yourself in business writing - read business documents, subscribe to business blogs or newsletters, and study the writing style.

  2. Practice regularly - start by rewriting your old pieces in a business style, then move on to writing original business documents.

  3. Seek feedback - whether from a mentor, a peer, or through online platforms, feedback can provide valuable insights into your strengths and areas for improvement.

  4. Get active on LinkedIn: Put the word out on LinkedIn that you’re transitioning to business writing and optimize your LinkedIn profile for it.

Finally, decide if you want to join a company as an in-house business writer or if you want to be a freelance business writer. The gig economy isn’t as bad as people say. There are some wonderful opportunities in 2023.

What does the ideal business document look like? A roadmap for clarity and impact

An effective business document is more than just well-chosen words and persuasive language - it's also about how these elements are structured and organized.

Here’s how to create a near-perfect business copy:

Organize your thoughts

Start by identifying your document's purpose - what do you want your reader to know or do after reading your piece? Once you've clarified your goal, brainstorm the key points you want to communicate. These could be arguments, facts, ideas, or steps, depending on your document's nature.

Once you've gathered your thoughts, organize them logically. This could be chronological, in order of importance, or problem-solution, among others.

A well-structured document guides the reader smoothly from one point to the next, making your argument more compelling and your message easier to understand.

Nail the introduction and the conclusion

Next, let's focus on the two pillars of your document - the introduction and the conclusion. Your introduction sets the stage for your message.

It should grab the reader's attention, provide context, and outline what they can expect from the document. Remember, first impressions count and a strong introduction can engage your reader from the get-go.

The conclusion, on the other hand, wraps up your message. It should summarize the key points, reinforce your purpose, and, if appropriate, include a call to action.

A powerful conclusion leaves a lasting impression and motivates the reader to act or think in line with your goal.

Understand the importance of design elements

Design elements can boost readability - headings, bullet points, and white space. Headings break your content into digestible sections, guiding the reader through your document.

They also make your document scan-friendly, a crucial aspect in today's fast-paced business world.

Bullet points are great for listing items, summarizing points, or highlighting key information. They draw the reader's eye and make your content easier to absorb.

However, they should be used judiciously - overuse can make your document feel disjointed or superficial.

White space, the empty space around your text, enhances readability by preventing your document from looking cluttered or overwhelming.

It provides visual relief, making your document easier on the eyes and more inviting to read. (You will notice that most paragraphs on this blog are just two or three sentences long. Some paragraphs are just one sentence!)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a business writer?

A business writer is someone who writes to communicate business ideas. A business writer could write emails, reports, pitches, memos, or business plans. The main skill of a business writer is to communicate business ideas clearly, concisely, and professionally.

What are the types of business writing?

There are four main types of business writing.

  1. Instructional

  2. Informational

  3. Persuasive

  4. Transactional

What is freelance business writing?

When you’re a freelance business writer, you don’t work for a particular employer. Instead, you write for multiple clients. You’re a business on your own and you offer your services to different clients and charge them for it.

Is freelance business writing profitable?

Freelance business writing is quite profitable if done right. Make sure you hone your skills and find the right clients who are willing to pay good rates. If you’re looking for great clients, go through websites like Simple Job Listings,, WeWorkRemotely, etc.

What are some business writing examples?

Company emails, policy recommendations, memos, business reports, proposals, press releases, white papers, and business plans are some of the more common examples of business writing.


Business writing is not just a lucrative career but also a fantastic way to expand your knowledge base. If you’re a writer, consider diversifying into business writing. It's well worth it.

And if you are looking for some high-paying remote writing opportunities, check out Simple Job Listings. We only list remote jobs, almost every job pays really well, and a huge number of jobs that we show aren't listed on any other job boards.

Check out Simple Job Listings and find great remote business writing opportunities. Good luck!

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