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Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Well-Crafted Letter Still Gets the Job Done - Bryan A. Garner - Harvard Business Review

Business letters aren't a quaint thing of the past. Write them well, and you'll create a lot of goodwill with clients, partners, and vendors. You'll increase your profits, too — by getting key customers to renew large orders, for example, or persuading service providers to charge you less for repeat business.
So begins writing authority Bryan A. Garner in this article. This post is the second in his blog series on business writing. The series draws on insights from Garner's excellent new book, the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

He immediately jumps in with four pointers. Here are headings and key messages for each one:

  • Focus on the reader. Motivate people to act by giving them reasons that matter to them. ...
  • Use direct language. Write simply. ... [This advice includes a chart on phrases to avoid in letters.]
  • Ease into bad news. If you have a rejection to deliver, sandwich it between happier elements. ...
  • Don't write in anger. Say please and thank you — even in letters of complaint. ...
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Garner's article is featured today, Feb. 7, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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