6 Writing Mistakes Respected Professionals Never Make

Woman writing next to crumpled papers

By Kaleigh Moore

It's not difficult to spot a weak writer--especially at work. That's because in many roles, writing is unavoidable. Think about all of the emails, reports, performance reviews, etc. that are written each day--there are quite a few opportunities for someone to gauge your writing abilities.

But making common writing mistakes is an easy way to throw up someone's red flag in regard to your writing skills. If you're familiar with these faux pas, it's likely that your peers have taken note. Be sure to review this list and cut these errors out of your business writing practice.

1. Here's some

This is a phrase we see fairly commonly, as in, "Here's some data from our customer analytics report." But this is incorrect, because here's = here is. The correct version is "Here are some" because you're referring to multiple pieces of data, which constitutes 'are' in place of 'is'.

2. Compliment vs. complement

These two words have different meanings, although I often see them both used to mean, "to go well with." Compliment refers to praise, as in, "I complimented him on his work ethic." Whereas complement means to pair nicely with, as in, "The marketing materials complemented the company branding."

3. Long-winded sentences

Even in a business setting, you should be aiming to write like Hemingway with short sentences and simple words. Why? Because people are busy, and they don't want to waste time pouring over complex sentences at work. Get right to the point in your writing and make it easy to understand. Need help? Use Hemingway app to test your writing to see where improvements can be made.

4. Passive voice

Passive voice means the receiver of an action is the subject of the sentence. It looks like this: The P&L was reviewed by leadership. In lieu of passive voice, always write in active voice, in which the person taking action is the subject. So, instead: Leadership reviewed the P&L. This adds greater clarity to writing and sounds more authoritative overall.

5. Buzzword-overload

Business writing that is heaped with buzzwords and jargon puts a wall up between you and your readers--and can lead to confusion. It may sound professional as you're writing it, but it's likely that your reader won't appreciate the lingo. Lose the buzzwords and write plainly and succinctly instead.

6. i.e. vs. e.g.

These words are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they have different meanings. i.e. is Latin for id est, which means "that is" (like "in essence") while e.g. means exempli gratia, which means "for example." Use i.e. to summarize an idea and e.g. to list examples.

Ditch These Writing Mistakes For Good

If you can cut these errors out of your business writing practices, you'll be on the path to better, more effective writing in no time--and your coworkers will stop nit-picking your reports and emails.