Introducing the 10 Cs of business writing

From the course: Business Writing Principles

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  • Course details

    Discover the secrets to effective business writing and crafting messages that others want to read and act on. Judy Steiner-Williams, senior lecturer at Kelley School of Business, introduces you to the 10 Cs of strong business communication and provides you with before-and-after writing samples that give you the opportunity to apply each principle and sharpen your communication skills. Judy also points out common grammar and writing mistakes and shares special considerations for formats like emails and reports.


    • Click here to view Judy Steiner-Williams’ instructor page

      Judy Steiner-Williams

      Author at

      Judy Steiner-Williams is a senior lecturer at Kelley Business School.

      Judy teaches writing and business communication. During her 30-plus year tenure at Indiana University, Judy has taught both students and support staff. English, business, and adult education are her areas of expertise—all related to increasing effectiveness in the workplace. She also coauthored an e-text on effective business communication strategies and has conducted workshops and seminars to a variety of business groups.

    Skills covered in this course

  • Welcome

    - [Voiceover] If you want to help improve the chances that your message will be read, or be understood the way you intended, and make a good impression on your reader, understanding and applying the Cs to your writing as you plan and revise, can help you accomplish those goals. A writer has a right to expect every message to be complete and concise, clear, conversational, courteous, correct, coherent, considerate, concrete, and credible. Even though these are listed in distinctive categories, they're not mutually exclusive, they do overlap. For example, a message may be unclear because it is incomplete. Or a writer may be inconsiderate of the reader by sending a message that is filled with incorrect punctuation. Or the reader's name is spelled incorrectly. But looking at them in categories helps us more easily discuss what makes an effective message for our audience. Let's take a brief look at each C. Complete: Did you provide the reader with the information that he or she needs so follow-up questions aren't necessary? Concise: Did you use the fewest number of words possible, so your reader doesn't have to wade through superfluous information? Is it clear, have you thought about what your reader knows and doesn't know, and the words you choose to use? Or, are you writing based on what you know, or what makes sense to you? Is it conversational, does your writing sound as though you are writing to a human or to a robot? Courteous: Is your tone pleasant, and have you shown the reader how he or she benefits from your information or policy? Or, does the message sound demanding, and it is all about the writer's interest? Is it correct? At first glance, does your message look professional, and give a first good impression? Or does it give the impression that it was hurriedly prepared? Is it coherent, do you leave your reader thinking that the ideas are jumbled or that they tie together smoothly? Be considerate. When a reader looks at your document, does it look inviting to read with bullets and headings, or does it use one or two long paragraphs, with no signpost to help guide the reader through the message? Concrete: Have you included specifics, or are vague, meaningless words used? Credible: Are reliable facts given from sources that can be located, or is the information from an unknown source such as the grapevine? You need first to understand each C. Once you understand and can apply the concept in your writing, the next step is to keep revising until you have applied each C and are recognized as an effective business writer.

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