to improve their writing is not an easy task. If you continually revise
their work, chances are they will give up trying to improve.
they'll say. "The boss will only rewrite it."
On the other hand,
if you overlook vague or poorly-written correspondence, it reflects
badly on your department and organization.
Here are some guidelines
to help you coach your staff in preparing well-written documents:
1. Ensure your own
writing style reflects today's business writing style: clear, concise
2. Understand the
differences between editing, rewriting and revising. Editing means improving
the clarity, accuracy and effectiveness of the material. The changes
are minor; you could make the alterations without consulting the author.
3. When you revise,
you indicate the changes required in the sentence structure, tone, organization
and the inclusion or elimination of details. Then, you pass it back
to the author for a re-write-a good learning process but time-consuming.
Rewriting is when
you actually make the changes yourself instead of letting the author
make them. Definitely faster, but the writer will not learn from the
Don't edit someone
else's work when you are in a bad mood. Your judgment will be off, and
you'll end up changing material that at another time would be acceptable.
4. Choose a comprehensive
style and grammar book-written in the 90s. Make it available to everyone.
5. Don't use a red
pen when making corrections. It makes people feel they are back in school.
6. Change words
only if they are incorrect or fuzzy. Don't change them because they
aren't your favorites.
7. Never rewrite
an entire paragraph. Mark it for the author to revise.
8. Don't use cryptic
words in the margin, such as confusing or awkward. Comment on why the
passage isn't working.
9. If a problem
appears repeatedly, number your comments and use the number rather than
rewriting your concerns.
10. Point out poorly-written
materials received from other companies.
11. Circulate good
reports so staff know the expected standard.
12. Praise your
staff-preferably in public-whenever they prepare a well-written document.