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Writing for Business Students

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Maintain a formal and respectful tone

"While the tone can be friendly, business documents are written in a formal style. Your writing might be read by individuals other the original recipient and be kept by a company for many years, so avoid personal comments. Keep your writing at a professional level by using gender-neutral language, as well as proper grammar and spelling. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Avoid clichés, contractions and slang" (Tingum, n.d.).


Use active vs. passive voice

"To change passive voice to active, identify the performer of the action. If the performer is in a "by the" phrase, simply move the performer to the subject position, just before the verb" (Hogan, n.d.). "Use the active voice as much as possible to create direct, clear, and concise sentences, especially when you are writing about the actions of people" (APA, n.d.).

  • Example: The report will be reviewed by the supervisor before it is sent to the manager.
  • Revision: The supervisor will review the report before sending it to the manager.


Use third vs. first/second person

"third person point of view focuses on a person or topic outside yourself or the reader, making it the most professional, academic, and objective way to write. The goal of third person point of view is to remove personal, subjective bias from your writing, at least in theory. Most of the writing you will do in college will require you to focus on ideas, people, and issues outside yourself, so third person will be the most appropriate (Burnell, et al.).

  • Example: We are looking to expand into new areas. I am seeking talented new hires.
  • Revision: The company is looking to expand into new areas. It is seeking talented new hires.



American Psychological Association [APA]. (n.d.). Active and passive voice. APA Style.

Burnell, C., Wood, J., Babin, M., Pesznecker, s., & Rosevear, N. (n.d.). The word on college reading and writing. Open Oregon.

Hogan, R. C. (n.d.). Write strong, active voice sentences. Business Writing Center.

Tingum, J. (n.d.). What does writing paragraphs in business format mean? Chron.