Clear communication is an important skill in every single job, even for technical people. If you can speak and write clearly then you will more easily get people to do what you want.
The best resource on writing that I know is The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. It is a pleasantly short read and contains plenty of humor if you read between the lines. When reading it, ignore the specific rules of ancient grammar and just concentrate on the general principles of clear writing. Some of my favorites are:
- Keep it short.
- Use common words.
- Keep sentence structure simple.
In school you have to bloat your writing because the assignment is for a minimum number of words or pages. Obscure vocabulary is often rewarded too. In the real world we don’t have patience for that crap. Express your point as simply and quickly as you can.
The following tips may seem obvious, but I see them violated often. When I read cover letters, resumes, or business proposals that don’t even meet these standards then I hit delete. It is sad that I hit delete so often each day.
- Write in complete sentences.
- Start sentences with capital letters.
- End sentences with a punctuation mark. The mark should match the form of the sentence.
- Run a spell checker before hitting the send button.
- If you are not 100% sure you know the meaning of a word or phrase then look it up or don’t use it.
I hope this helps the world become just a little more readable.