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Word Perfect

The information Age has made effective written communication more critical than ever. In addition to the traditional formal business letter sent via standard mail, there is a growing variety of electronic options for transmitting written messages. Whatever method you use to send your message, the results of your correspondence will depend a great deal on how well you communicate your intent.

Rosalie Maggio, author of How to Say It: Choice Words, Phrases, Sentences & Paragraphs for Every Situation (Prentice Hall), offers these tips for strong letter-writing:

  • Know what you want to accomplish before you start writing. "You need to be able to describe what your letter is about in one sentence, " Maggio says. "If you can't do that, you're not focused enough."
  • Write your letter-and then cut it by one-third. "The simpler and clearer it is, the more powerful it is," Maggio says.

"People are busy, and they get impatient if they have to wade through a lot of extra words." Edit out extraneous material that is not directly related to the purpose of the letter

  • Visualize the person you're writing to. Even if it's someone you've never met, keep a picture of the recipient in your mind. It will help you focus your writing on that person and his or her concerns rather than on yourself-and that increases your chance of getting the results you want.

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This article was originally published in the January 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Word Perfect.

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