Writing at Work

the basics of business communications

Robert Barrass is the author of Students Must Write. Writing at Work is his latest book, which is aimed at helping people with business communication skills. What he offers is a set of strategies for people who need to write at work – whether they are in administration, commerce, or management. The approach he takes is very practical and straightforward. He emphasises the fact that the act of writing helps you to digest and remember information. In communicating with other people, you should aim for directness, clarity, precision, and simplicity – and the best part of his method is that he shows you how to achieve it.

One of the many good features of the book is that he gives real-life examples of poor writing and shows how they might be improved. There’s also a chapter on writing a business letter, with detailed explanations of how to deal with each part – from your address at the top to your signature at the bottom.

There are some excellent checklists which offer detailed steps in preparing, planning, drafting, writing, and editing a piece of work. There’s also a section on language which deals with words which are commonly misused and misunderstood.

He includes a useful chapter on using measurements, diagrams, graphs, and pie charts. This is followed by an account of how to write a report – often a daunting prospect for even the most experienced writer. The same is true of the minutes of meetings, which he also covers.

He ends with a chapter called ‘Talking at Work’. This covers spoken communication on the phone, in meetings, in interviews, and making presentations.

If you work in an admin office, a school or university, the town hall, or especially a government information office – then this book will help you to express yourself more effectively.

© Roy Johnson 2003

Robert Barrass, Writing at Work: A guide to better writing in administration, business and management, London: Routledge, 2002, pp.201, ISBN 0415267536

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