Strike the Right Tone in Your Writing

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Getting tone right takes work — but it’s critical to the success of your business documents. If you sound likable and professional, people will want to work with you and respond to you. If you come off as hyperformal, condescending, or sarcastic, people won’t. Find the right tone by writing your message as if you were speaking to the recipient in person. Refer to people by name, use personal pronouns as you naturally would, and shun fancy substitutes for everyday words. Always use a friendly tone in composing your messages, even if the content isn’t positive. You’ll get better responses from your recipients and keep yourself—and your company—out of trouble.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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