Unlocking Written Communication Skills: Definitions and 2023 Examples

Updated 27 September 2023

You require some degree of written communication skills for every type of job. Whether you send an email, write a memo, draft meeting agendas, write bulletins, create circulars or provide briefs, your employer expects you to possess excellent written communication skills. Depending on your position, clear and concise communication ensures that you effectively communicate with everyone you work with.

In this article, we will discuss what are written communication skills and provide you with some tips to improve your skills.

What Are Written Communication Skills?

Written communications skills are those skills that use written words to deliver your point. While it may have features similar to verbal communication skills, there are some significant differences. Verbal communication relies on body language and your voice's tone to deliver information. Written communication skills use grammar, punctuation and words. For a written communication to be effective, ensure it is clear, concise, complete and courteous. If you want to develop your written communication skills, you need to practice writing and give attention to details.

Related: 12 Communication Benefits For The Workplace (Plus Tips)

Core elements Of Written Communication Skills With examples

Written communication skills are made up of five core elements. Here are some examples of each of these elements:

1. Conciseness

The goal of every written communication is to get to the point quickly. It is essential to include only relevant details to communicate your information effectively.

Example: “After seeing your presentation skills, I have concluded that you are one of the best orators on our team.”

Like the one in the above example, concise writing avoids unnecessary details and effectively delivers the information. Such concise writing reduces instances of complex sentence structures and imparts confidence in your written communication.

2. Clarity

Clarity helps your readers understand the message you are trying to convey. By bringing clarity to your writing, you reduce instances of misinformation, misconception, miscommunication and mistakes. Clarity comes with using simple language and avoiding complex words or sentence structures.

Example: “Use your best judgement to decide whether you should build the web design from the start or update the existing one. Click on the link below to see the details of the new project. If you have any questions, direct them to your project head.”

The above message conveys the writer's expectation and provides steps to follow if the readers require further clarification.

3. Tone

The tone is the voice of your writing and conveys the emotions to the readers. For business writing, use a professional tone with an appropriate degree of friendliness and formality.

Example: “Thank you for sending over the web design on such short notice. I have highlighted a few inaccuracies and attached a more detailed brief that conforms to the client's requirement. Please get the revised design back to me latest by Wednesday morning. Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.”

Even when pointing out errors and inaccuracies, keep your tone friendly yet professional. Instead of directly accusing someone, know what you want from the reader.

Related: Examples Of SOPs Across Various Industries And Job Roles

4. Active Voice

Active voice uses action verbs that make your writing clearer, more accessible and engaging to the readers. It is preferred over passive voice because active voice allows a reader to move through your writing quickly. Active voice flows better and makes your writing more persuasive. While passive voice finds its use in other forms of writing, in professional communication, passive voice dilutes the content's action.

Example: “Call the presenter about the webinar on Monday morning and ask whether we can shift the webinar to Wednesday afternoon. If she agrees, send out date change emails to the attendees. If she disagrees, remind me on Monday morning to talk to her.”

Related: What Is Interviewer Etiquette? A Comprehensive Guide

5. Grammar and punctuation

Grammar and punctuation make your writing clear, engage your readers, avoid miscommunication and make your communication effective. In professional communication, grammar and punctuations help deliver correct information to the readers.

Example: “Our client requires the use of word processing programs, blogging platforms, design tools, communication tools and collaboration apps for their next project.”

Without using the correct spelling, preposition, punctuation, verb tense, article, conjunction and other basic grammar rules, it becomes difficult to read and interpret the information.

Related: Guide: How To Become an Effective Communicator

How To Improve Your written communication skills

Here are a few ways to improve your written communication skills:

1. Know your goals

Having a clear goal helps in writing a clear and concise copy. Your goal may be to get readers to respond to the email, make corrections in their work or pass on the information. Irrespective of your goal, try conveying your goal at the beginning of the message. Every written communication has a purpose and your writing must convey that purpose to the readers. Explain clearly what you expect from the readers.

2. Choose the right words and tone

Your word choice and writing tone make your writing compelling. Certain forms of written communication, like proposals, require a formal tone. Using an informal tone in such documents confuses the readers. Avoid using jargon, idioms, metaphors and fancy words. Stick to simple business language because concise and clear written communication delivers the right information.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your English Communication Skills

3. Use outlines

For longer-form content such as reports or newsletters, write an outline to organise your thoughts. It ensures your work remains organised and focussed. Start by writing the document's objective, followed by a list of main points you want to include. Outlines provide a logical order to your written communication.

4. Stay on the topic

Effective written communication is all about staying on topic. Avoid irrelevant information. Before writing anything, ask yourself how it will help your readers. Clarity is essential for increasing the reader's engagement with your writing. Try keeping your paragraphs and sentences short because over-complicated sentences slow the reader down. It is best to leave out words that shift your focus away from the main topic.

Related: Navigating Corporate Communication: Key Skills and Career Opportunities

5. Edit and revise

Read your document two or three times to ensure that it flows well, the writing makes sense and is free from all unnecessary details. Apart from proofreading for grammatical errors, give attention to how the document sounds. Also, look for visual styles, word spacing and word division. Reread your document after some time to further eliminate potential errors.

How To Showcase Your Written Communication Skills

From succeeding in a job interview to interacting with clients, your written communication skills are essential at every step. Here are a few ways to showcase your written communication skills:

1. On your profile summary

Hiring managers scan and skim through your profile summary because they have to shortlist from hundreds of candidates. Your profile summary quickly communicates why you are qualified for the position. Therefore, showcase your written communication skills on your profile summary by highlighting your strengths and accomplishments. Use bullet points and lists to demonstrate your written communication to the employer.

2. In your cover letter

Unlike profile summary, cover letters are full of rich and detailed information. Your cover letter is an excellent way to showcase your ability to weave words and create a compelling narrative of your life. Rather than focussing on listing all your professional accomplishments, choose one or two accomplishments to build an engaging story. Portray your strengths, experience and tell the employer what you did differently to achieve those outcomes.

Related: Writing a cover letter

3. In your emails

Nearly every job requires sending emails daily. It is essential to write to the point emails as it builds your professionalism and credibility. Well-written business emails are clear and specific and contain the next step for the readers to take. The next step could be to reply to an email, complete a task assigned or schedule an appointment via email.

Related: How to Write and Properly Format Business Email Messages

4. In your apology letter

Apologies are difficult in the workplace because you deal with personal feelings in a professional setup. These are appreciated when you communicate effectively to your manager or team lead. Your apology letter showcases your written communication as your tone and style convey your capability of dealing with mistakes. Using the right set of words, you build professionalism and credibility.

Related: How To Write An Effective Apology Letter To A Professor

5. In your job interview

While most of your job interview is verbal, you may encounter instances wherein you have to write a short introductory paragraph about yourself or give your viewpoints in writing on your industry's latest trends. Communicating clearly during your job interview demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively. It increases your chances of getting an offer letter.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

6. In your presentations and reports

Using presentations and reports, you communicate to your team what you have been working on, your goals and expectations for the future. Conveying this message ensures the attention of those team members who are not familiar with your department. When writing presentations and reports for an audience outside your department, avoid using technical terms that you do not use outside of your team. Make your writing concise, clear and take time to share relevant information.

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