Being good at business writing is a hugely valuable skill, regardless of the industry you work in. Of course, learning the rules and nuances of business writing can't just be done in an hour. You will likely need a lot of experience writing letters, papers, memos, and reports before you can be really confident.
That said, everyone has to start somewhere. To help you out, we've put together 100 of the best online business writing resources, to get you on the right track. This should give you a head start in mastering the art of business writing, regardless of your chosen profession.
The How To's of Business Writing - Expert Advice & Workshops - Business Blogs - Video & Social Networking - Punctuation, Grammar & Style - MLA, APA & Other Formatting Guides - Proofreading & Revision Guides - The Gurus of Business Writing
One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to follow by example. This is exactly what these "how to" guides will have you do. We've compiled the best guides in business writing to help you master email, technical writing, report writing, and PowerPoint presentations in a few easy steps. We've also thrown in a few "how not to" guides for good measure. After all, sometimes the best way to avoid making a mistake on a business paper is to know the landmines in advance.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Centre: UNC's Writing Center has an excellent handout on how to write a business letter. This guide is short and simple with a number of excellent samples included.
- The Business Writer's Free Library: This is another great how-to guide on business writing that will improve the quality of your writing. Definitely worth a read.
- Fundamentals of Persuasive Writing: Business writing and persuasive writing go hand in hand. In most business proposals, the main objective is to persuade. Brush up on the fundamentals of persuasive writing and learn how to use them in business proposals with this guide by copywriter and consultant Bob Bly.
- UBC Writing Center: The UBC Writing Centre has put together a quick and easy how-to guide of the basic principles of persuasive writing. Worth checking out.
- Black Enterprise: "A Good Plan is Key to Business Success" offers an excellent step-by-step guide on how to perfect your business plan, one of the fundamentals in business writing.
- Center for Communication Practices: Formerly The Writing Center, and developed by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the CCP has a great handout for writing memos, in addition to other reports and papers.
- A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email: This how-to guide on effective email writing is a must-read for all business professionals, especially if you use email as one of your main methods of communication. This guide discusses intonation, gestures, page layout, format, and context in an easy-to-read layout.
- A Bit Better: PowerPoint is a critical part of any business proposal. Make sure you wow your audience every time with these PowerPoint Presentation tips. This quick and readable guide goes over everything from font selection to subliminal messages, to make sure you create the right impression.
- Writing a Technical Report: An essential how-to guide on writing a technical report, from University of Maryland Baltimore computer science professor Alan T Sherman.
- Tech Scribe: This quick read explains the essentials on writing instructions, something any business leader needs to know. In many instances a good leader will need to rely on others to help with a project; make sure they have clear and concise instructions to follow with these tips.
- Library Online Reprimand Letter Template: Another great instructional guide, this template will help you "be the boss" and ensure great results.
- Realty Times: This fun and readable article teaches you the essential facts about business writing errors in a two-minute quiz.
- Business Writing Mistakes: A great how-not-to guide, this article outlines the most common business writing mistakes. Print it out, highlight the mistakes, and before submitting any business report make sure your paper is free and clear from these errors.
- WorkKeys: This is another great list of common business writing errors. Simple, straightforward, and quick to read.
- Getting it Write: Although this guide is meant for ESL students, it is also a helpful resource for business writers. The article discusses ten of the most common writing mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Writing Mistakes that Cost You Money: This is another excellent how-not-to guide written by Brent Sampson. After you write your paper, use this guide as a revision tool to ensure your writing is up to par.
- Ask the Manager: This is a must-read guide for business email writing. It includes a list of the "most annoying business email habits ever" as well as common typos that will entertain and instruct at the same time.
- Quick Fixes for Business Writing Errors: This is an excellent article on common business writing mistakes and how to fix them in a flash.
- Business Writing at its Best: Want the best of the best in business writing courses? Then look no further than these workshops. Business Writing at its Best provides a personal approach to business writing, with courses and workshops catering to your individual needs and goals.
- The Business Writing Center: This professional company teaches 41 business writing courses online, ideal for anyone looking to perfect their writing skills.
- The Writing Workshop: Further valuable courses to look into are the ones offered by the Writing Workshop. These not only focus on the elements of business writing, but also help with confidence building, a key ingredient of successful business proposals and correspondence.
- Writing Trainers: These online courses provide writing coaching, editing help, and free writing evaluations for business professionals. These are great workshops to refresh your writing style and learn how to impress the people who matter.
- American Management Association Seminar: One of the reasons these workshops are so successful is that the instructors provide their students with individualized feedback. Not only will you get the templates and how-to advice in this two-day workshop, but you'll also get hands-on experience and feedback on your writing.
- Business Training Works: One- or two-day courses are offered through Business Training Works with the objective of teaching professionals how to add clarity to their writing. Bottom Line Business Writing covers audience, tone, jargon, and editing for successful business writing.
- The Email and Business Writing Workshop: For a quick and easy intro to the art of business writing, try this one-day course which whips through the basics of business writing including e-mail, letters, memos, and reports. The goal of this seminar is to make sure that your writing is on target every time.
- Writers Online Workshops: There are plenty of seminars to choose from here, including The Essentials of Business Writing, The Essentials of Technical Writing, and The Elements of Effective Writing, all of which will improve your writing skills. Each class comes with a free CD so you can brush up on your lessons at home afterward.
- Businessweek: Business Week magazine is a leader in the corporate publishing world, so it's no wonder their business writing blog is one of the best. There are helpful stories and tips here from founders, directors, and CEOs in the business world.
- Business Writing Blog: The mother of all business writing blogs, Lynn Gaertner Johnson's blog features talks, tips, and best picks for writers on the job.
- Syntax Training: Lynn Gaertner Johnson also hosts several better business writing workshops through her Syntax Training website.
- Manage Your Writing: If you think you've read all there is to read about business writing, check out this blog, which offers a new tip or tool every week.
- Write Better in Business: Another helpful blog, Write Better in Business features best practices from business writing gurus and examples to follow at home.
- The Art of Business Writing: This fun blog is a great place to unwind or take a break if you've got writer's block. Share stories, read tips, and learn how to make your writing really count.
- Clear Business: Professional writer and marketing consultant Dan Furman shares his tips on successful writing with some funny anecdotes along the way.
- The Business Insider: Tim Rosa Associates is a leader in business writing, and offers expert insights, advice, and trend spotting useful for anyone wanting to improve their writing.
- Business Writing Info: This helpful blog includes plenty of tips and expert advice on business writing. Check out "Business Writing Words to Ban for 2010" for a quirky take on what words to avoid in any business report.
- Wordbiz Report: Debbie Weil shares her advice on business writing and blogging. This blog is fresh and fun with plenty of useful advice.
- Report Writing: Have a business report to write and want a quick demonstration of what your finished report should look like? Take a minute to watch this easy-to-follow video and learn the basics of report writing.
- Email Writing: Email is the most common method of communication in the twentieth-century office. Make sure you are sending the right messages with this video, which covers how to keep your emails on-target and readable.
- Email Subject Lines: The subject line of your email can make or break its effectiveness. Make the right first impression with these simple email subject line tips, highlighted in this quick and quirky video.
- Proposal Writing: One of the most daunting business writing projects is the dreaded proposal. This video outlines the basics of any successful business proposal so you can strengthen your chances of getting your project accepted.
- Memo Writing: What's in a memo? Why is it useful and how in the world do I make mine effective? This video will show you.
- Business Letter Format: The art of writing a business letter is covered wonderfully here by Helen Wilkie. In this video, she looks at the eight parts of a successful business letter.
- Basic Business Letter Writing: Another great video on business letter writing, Basic Business Letter Writing will show you the keys forms of business writing in less than seven minutes.
- Expanded Business Letter Writing: Once you've mastered the basics of business letter writing, broaden your abilities and lengthen your letter with the tips presented in this video.
- Instruction Writing: This video on instructional writing aims to help you guide your team to success, avoiding en route the stress and concerns that can be involved in leadership.
- Four Message Types: Good news, bad news, neutral, and persuasive message types are all covered in this fun six minute video. With silly animations and clear bullet points, this video unravels the mystery of sending all types of messages successfully.
- Business Yelp: Sure, Facebook may rule the social networking world, but there is a lot to be said for Business Yelp. Business Yelp allows business owners to share information about their businesses with colleagues and communities. This is an excellent business writing resource as it allows you to communicate effectively and efficiently through the web. Plus, it's a lot more fun than traditional memos!
- Talkbiznow: Another excellent social networking resource for business writers, Talkbiznow is a business community that provides business services for small businesses and professionals. Once you have mastered your business writing skills, take what you have learned to Talkbiznow and connect with those who matter.
- Social Harbor: Social Harbor is a full-service social media and search engine marketing company offering Web 2.0 solutions for companies and their employees. Make your business count on the web by joining Social Harbor and publishing your writing to the cyber world.
- businessdictionary.com: We all need a little help from a dictionary now and again. Business Dictionary offers an easy-to-use business glossary that's perfect for checking the spelling in your report.
- The Glossarist: Get back to business basics with this business dictionary and glossary.
- Thesaurus.com: The thesaurus is a business writer's best friend. Thesaurus.com is your one-click site for finding the perfect alternative to any lackluster word.
- Capital Community College Foundation: Another great grammar guide that has everything you need to know about grammar in an easy-to-read format. Topics covered include sentence structure, coherence, tone, formatting, parts of speech, and frequently asked questions.
- The Online Grammar Guide: This guide compiles all the most confusing and annoying grammatical rules into easy pop-up pages. It could be a really good idea to quickly refresh your knowledge of the rules on this site before starting that important business report.
- Grammarphobia.com: Put your fear of grammar to rest with this fun compilation of grammar tips and tools.
- Interactive Quizzes: The activities on this site are one of the best ways to perfect your grammar, spelling, and sentence structure without just reading the rules. There are hundreds of different quizzes here to test your knowledge of grammar, style, punctuation, sentence structure, and vocabulary.
- The Blue Book on Grammar and Punctuation: The name says it all - an online book on grammar, grammar, and, no big surprise here, more grammar.
- Lynch Guide to Grammar and Style: A more colloquial take on grammar and style by Rutgers University writing professor Jack Lynch.
- The Tongue Untied: Looking for a more fun, tongue-in-cheek take on grammar? Try this cheeky guide to grammar, punctuation, and style.
- Harper's Online Writing Lab: This is a great basic guide to punctuation, sentence structure, commas, and verbs. It's definitely worth a look, especially if you just need a quick review.
- Eleven Rules of Writing: If you want a short and sweet (and accurate!) review of grammar 101, check out these 11 rules for good writing.
- The University of Chicago: This is one of the best guides on the net when it comes to comprehensive grammar. If you are looking for a more complex take on basic grammar, you should take a gander at this website.
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Another great university resource is the University of Illinois grammar guide, which covers parts of speech, phrases, clauses, sentence elements and structure, and common usage problems in a straightforward format.
- Quick and Dirty Tips: Tired of the traditional grammar guides? Try this website, where you'll find Grammar Girl's sassy guide to all things grammatical, including word choice, punctuation, and style.
- The University of North Carolina at Pembroke: A great grammar guide that covers comma use, formatting, dangling and misplaced modifiers, subject-verb agreement, fragments, and fused sentences.
- WebGrammar: We're all guilty of using the wrong "its / it's" every once in a while. Judy Vorfeld's grammar site covers spelling, grammar, homonyms, punctuation and capitalization, as well as basic tips on writing, education, typography, academic research, and Web development.
- GMAT Sample Test: Ready for the ultimate in grammar tests? Try this GMAT sample test, a 45-minute online examination that will truly test your grammatical skills. This could be a great warm-up to writing a business letter, and will get your grammar skills in top form.
- American Psychological Association (APA): APA is perhaps the most common formatting guide used in business and economics, as well as in communications, education, geography, law, political science and sociology. The official site for the APA is naturally the best place to learn APA formatting with free tutorials, links to books, style guides, and instructional aides.
- Modern Language Association (MLA): Many professionals prefer to use MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting, which is also acceptable for business papers. MLA is commonly used for papers in English, foreign languages, philosophy, art, religion, architecture, and literature. The official site for the Modern Language Association, this website explains the basics of MLA and includes plenty of information on events and conventions on MLA style.
- The Council of Science Editors (CSE): For those wanting to use the Council of Science Editors (CSE) style for a business report, this official website on CSE is the place to start. CSE is commonly used in the sciences, including nursing and health sciences.
- The Chicago Manual of Style Online: Chicago formatting is generally used for history papers; however it can also be found in business papers. The Chicago Manual of Style goes over everything from how to write numbers in Chicago style to how to format tables and quotations.
- Bedford / St. Martin's MLA Updates: Bedford and St. Martin's is a great place for a quick review of citations with PDF versions of the MLA handbook that you can download for free.
- Chicago Citation and Format Style Guide: This site provides an easy-to-read downloadable 16-page format guide, perfect for keeping at your desk for reference. It covers everything you need to know about Chicago style, including footnotes and endnotes.
- APA Style Essentials: This is a great site to bookmark for future reference when writing business papers. It covers all things APA, and includes examples of title pages, abstracts, bodies, text citations, quotations, references, appendices, footnotes, tables, and figures.
- Psychology with Style: A Hypertext Writing Guide: Another great APA resource, Psychology with Style covers general topics in APA style including abbreviations, quotations, and style details, and provides plenty of useful examples.
- Cite Planet: Students and professionals will love the ease of Cite Planet, which has pre-made citations for thousands of books in over 40 subjects. Simply type in your source, and then copy and paste the correct citation.
- Doc Styles: Doc Styles has guides for MLA, ASA, APA, Chicago, and AMA for professionals in all industries. Each crib sheet provides extensive descriptions of general MLA style notes, text and block quotations, page formatting, MLA text citations, and works cited.
- The Online Writing Center (OWL) at Purdue: OWL is a easy-to-use guide to formatting that provides example papers and examples of works cited sections.
- CSE - Council of Science Editors: An excellent resource, this site goes over what CSE style is, how to use it properly within your paper, and how to cite your sources correctly.
- Online Citation Guide: This site gives a brief introduction and then jumps into examples of proper citations, parenthetical in-text citations, abbreviations, and paper formats.
- Bibcheck: If you're in a hurry, Bibcheck has a quick and easy way to generate your works cited page. All you need to do is fill in the blanks, and this site will do the work for you. Keep in mind, though, that it's always better to learn the formatting yourself than to rely on a formatting-style generator.
- EasyBib: Similar to Bibcheck, EasyBib lets you select your style and input your information (author, book name, etc). The site will do the rest for you.
- NoodleTools: NoodleTools is one of the first works cited generators on the net, with resources for free and for a fee. Choose "Noodlebib Express" to avoid paying a fee for the service.
- Son of Citation Machine: Leave it to the machine: another formatting-generator worth a try is Son of Citation Machine, which will generate a correctly formatted works cited guide in a matter of seconds.
- WorksCited4U: Another great online tool, WorksCited4U does exactly what its name suggests. This site is user friendly and a great page to add to your favorites.
- Power-Revision Techniques: This is an excellent guide for reviewing and revising business documents by the experts at the Online Technical Writing Centre. It focuses on revamping weak areas such as expletives and redundant phrasing.
- The Editing and Rewriting Process: Brought to you by the Capital Community College Foundation, this guide includes an editing checklist useful for any business document, from a quick email to a full proposal.
- Common Proofreading Symbols: It's a good idea to brush up on proofreading symbols when putting the finishing polish to any business document. Common Proofreading Symbols by Webster's is a straightforward guide to understanding those red marks all over your paper.
- BBC: This is a great guide to all things proofreading. The guide is made for aspiring professional proofreaders but is useful for anyone wanting to perfect their writing. The site includes printable practice worksheets and a quiz to test your knowledge.
- Colorado State University has an entire section on its website entitled Proofreading Strategies. It covers problem areas, has a proofreading checklist, and a sample checked-over document.
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: This site has a great proofreading page that includes tips and advice on editing for structure, clarity, and style.
- The University of Wisconsin - Madison: This is another excellent proofreading and revision resource that includes easy tips to follow when proofreading.
- Online Writing Lab: Abbreviated OWL, this website is the godfather of business writing and etiquette. It includes hundreds of resources on business writing including business letters, memo writing, email etiquette, language and tone guides, proofreading, and revision, all in accessible handout form.
- Writing Resource Center: This page directs business writers to a number of excellent and easy-to-read handouts on business writing from "The Ten Commandments of Business Writing" to "Personality Choices in Business Writing."
- Brief Guide to Business Writing: This is a great printable booklet on the basics of business writing put together by the Department of Management and Organization at the University of Iowa. It outlines all there is to know about business writing and includes samples of emails, memos, and business letters.
- WikiBooks Business Writing: Take the wiki approach to business writing with this useful open-book site. Start here to explore all there is to know about business writing.
- Colorado State University: Perfecting you business writing can be a long and sometimes daunting process. Learn how to craft your writing from start to finish with this writing guide that covers the essentials of conducting research, planning, drafting, organizing, and revising.
- The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing: Mastering the art of writing is something usually done in college. The Washington College has created the perfect companion for any university student or business professional. This guide covers style, structure, mechanics, and conclusions of papers, all of which are useful in both business and college writing.
- Research and Documentation Online: Another excellent resource for formatting and structure, the Research and Documentation Online website allows you to choose a discipline (such as business) and what you need assistance on (such as formatting). It will then provide you with a user-friendly reference page to answer your questions as you work on your paper.
- Online Technical Writing: This is one of the best places on the web for anyone in business communication. The guide highlights all aspects of business writing including reports, memos and letters, as well as document design, processes and guidelines to help you from start to finish.
Workshops provide you with real advice from real business professionals. If you prefer a more colloquial and personal approach to business writing advice, then these resources will be just what you're looking for.
Not quite ready to make the leap into a paid professional program on business writing? Then check out the expert advice and refresher tips on these free business blogs:
These YouTube videos and social networking sites provide a fun and interactive way to network, connect, and learn about the ins and outs of business writing. These resources offer an enjoyable approach to business writing:
We know - grammar is a bore. However, if your business report is riddled with grammatical errors, poor diction and improper punctuation, then you can kiss that promotion goodbye. Refresh your grammatical know-how and update your style with these useful business writing resources:
Proper formatting is a must for all professional papers. It's always important to cite your sources and back up your thesis with credible resources. Make the right impression by formatting your writing correctly with these helpful guides:
You have now officially mastered the art of writing and citing a business report. Unfortunately, you're not quite done yet. Make sure you really impress with these proofreading and revision guides, the finishing touch for successful business writing.
We've saved the best for last! Below are the absolute best business writing websites and resources out there. They have tips on everything business-writing related including language, tone, etiquette, memo writing, and proofreading. All of these resources are worth book-marking in your favorites or printing out for future reference:
Keep in mind that the road to consistently successful business writing is a long one. These resources will help you along the way but ultimately it's up to you to work on improving your writing skills. Take your time, always double- and triple-check your work, and aim to be clear and concise. And remember, if you get stuck along the way, there are 100 helpful websites just a click away. Good luck and have fun!