Writing Style – Business Writing: By the Numbers

Here are a few reminders to ensure your documents are clear and concise:

  1. Keep your average sentence length to 18 words.
  2. Avoid sentences that require more than four pieces of punctuation.
  3. Keep opening paragraphs under four lines in a print document and under three lines in a screen document.
  4. Keep body paragraphs under eight lines in a print document and under five lines in a screen document.
  5. Insert a connecting word every other sentence.
  6. Place a subhead after every five paragraphs.
  7. Ensure your Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is under 12, when using the readability statistics feature on your computer.
  8. Keep the percentage of passive voice sentences in your documents under 30 per cent.
  9. Be aware that the average person can hold only seven key ideas in their heads. Therefore, avoid lengthy lists.
  10. Choose the appropriate tone for the reader and the message. There are three to choose from: formal, neutral and informal.

The secret to effective business writing: answer all the reader’s questions.