18 February 2013

Better business writing

FT columnist Lucy Kellaway has finally found some good 'corporate guff'. See her article here.
I like the term 'business writing'. It's simple and clear and surprisingly underused.

Reading Lucy's examples from a 'credo' written by Robert Wood Johnson of Johnson & Johnson in 1943, I too was struck by how rare writing this direct and honest really is.

During the many years I've spent writing and translating for the French naval defence industry, it would have been nice -- and challenging too -- to have had a mandate to write or rewrite business and technical documents in this straight and honest style. But of course writing like this is very difficult to sell anywhere, let alone to customers with a different mother tongue and culture, precisely because it is so different and so unfamiliar.

As a result, I have long settled for writing and translations that are close enough to the customer's first draft so as not to ruffle too many feathers, yet a few small steps closer to the sort of style that Lucy so rightly admires. Why? Because I believe this to be a service to customer. Comments welcome.

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