What is Written Communication?
Communication is the act of sending, receiving, and sharing information through various forms of media. It is an important life skill to develop in order to build understanding and comprehension across a significant range of subjects. Good communicators are able to speak, listen, and write clearly, which is helpful when interacting with others in the world of business. Written communication is one of the most important forms of communication that professionals within a workplace or career field should seek to develop.
What is written communication? Written communication is defined as any type of message that utilizes written words. It is the most common form of business communication and has become increasingly important throughout the information age. Written communications can take place traditionally on paper or more modernly on an electronic device, such as by email or electronic memo. They are an effective method for transferring information within a business. Written communications are essential to any scenario involving more than one person. The other main form of communication is oral communication, or messages which are spoken.
Written Communication Skills
Written communications require a high level of skill in order to be conducted effectively and professionally. This form of communication is very common in business, so it is important that each employee has an understanding of written communication and a continual motivation to develop and improve their skills. Effective written communications should include the following skills:
- Clarity: All written communications should be clear, direct, straightforward, and understandable. Confusion will be prevented amongst readers if the message makes sense.
- Concision: Written communications should be kept short to avoid repetition and avoid leaving out necessary information. Conciseness assists in making a message more clear.
- A professional and formal tone: Keeping a courteous tone builds effective rapport and maintains a polite, respectful, and culturally sensitive dialogue.
- Precision and composition: All facts and dates should be accurate, and all spelling and grammar should also be correct. Precision builds a professional tone and confirms effective research has been done.
- Completeness: All necessary information should be included in the written communication
Additional guidelines which individuals within a business may choose to follow include beginning the communication by clearly stating their goal, keeping the communication simple, and staying on topic. Further, the use of an active and authoritative voice to outline goals and other pertinent information may aim to make the communication as effective as possible. Practice is an equally important activity to help develop written communication skills, and it is always a good idea to proofread or have a peer scan over communications to check for any errors.
Types of Written Communication
There are various forms of business communication that may be applied either internally to employees and business operations or externally to other clients and businesses. Some of the most common types of written communication are:
- Job descriptions
- Employee manuals
- Instant messages
- News or press releases
Written communications are used within a business to relay information about current projects, finances, and other operational topics. If written or oral communication did not exist within an organization, departments would remain unaware of each others' statuses and be unable to successfully function as a whole. Similarly, if no means of communication existed between a business selling a product and external parties such as consumers, buyers on the market would not be informed about a product, its benefits, or the preferential company to purchase it from. External communications can help deliver products to the outside world and create an effective brand for consumers to buy from.
Written Communication Examples
Communication is a vital part of most business operations. Written communications often take place in a setting that is not face-to-face, leading to a more convenient writing and reception time between the communicating parties. The following scenarios explore written communication examples that relay information at the convenience and ease of the speaker and the audience:
- Justine is in charge of disseminating information regarding changes within her organization to other workers. In order to professionally and accurately convey the changes, Justine writes a memorandum (memo) addressed to her peers and sends it to everyone at once rather than speaking to each person individually. Addressing a large group of people in one piece of writing allows Justine to focus on other responsibilities and ensures that everyone receives the exact same communication.
- Troy would like to inquire with his boss about a new work opportunity; however, his boss has a very busy schedule and rarely can make time for in-person appointments. In order to reach his boss, Troy writes an email to discuss his possible involvement in the company's new role. This written communication shows his commitment to the job and motivation to keep in touch with his boss about an opportunity previously presented to him.
- Alexandra is on a long-term work assignment in a foreign country and she misses her parents dearly. She decides to write a postcard with a short note to keep in touch and commemorate her time there. Writing postcards is an older form of written communication that remains just as effective today.
- In order to reach many clients, a company creates advertisement brochures to highlight a new product. They also put a billboard up on the major highway advertising the product to those driving by. Advertisements are another effective written communication example that can be used to reach many audience members at once.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Written Communication
Written communication is advantageous in many settings for a number of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it allows for convenient communication on the speaker or receiver's own time, rather than searching for a time to meet face to face and conduct oral communications. Additionally, messages can be written or edited several times before being sent, allowing for mistakes to be reviewed and corrected as well as the most appropriate tone to be used. Some other advantages of written communications include:
- They do not require personal contact.
- They provide written proof of a communication that can be used in the event of a dispute.
- They save money overall (oral communications such as phone calls may be expensive, especially internationally).
- They are generally effective and easy to understand because they are concise and professionally written.
- They are an easy alternative method to most other forms of communication.
In some instances, however, written communications may not be the most appropriate form of exchange because their ability is limited. For example, if an immediate response or reaction is desired by the speaker, written forms of communication cannot deliver these expressions as quickly as face-to-face or oral communications would be able to. Likewise, written communications may take a longer period of time to compose, whereas oral communications can take place directly between two or more parties. Other ways in which written communications may present disadvantages are:
- They create a lack of secrecy because once something is written, anyone can see it.
- They encourage a lack of direct contact or relations, also leading to delayed response times.
- They can potentially be costly, especially if two people are sitting close to each other and money still needs to be spent on writing supplies and telephone or internet service.
- They are not as flexible as oral communications because standard professional formalities must be addressed in the writing.
- They are not useful if the receiver is illiterate or does not understand a specific form of written communication.
Some forms of written communications may be older and many have been adapted to more modern technologies, but all forms of written communication remain a viable and essential part of successfully conducting business and trade overall.
Communications involve the sending, receiving, and sharing of information through various forms of media between two or more parties. Written communications are the most common form of business communication, involving any message that uses written words. To be effective, written communications should be correct (accurate), concise, complete, clear, and courteous. Written communications can be directed internally at employees and business operations, as well as externally to clients and other businesses. A few common forms of written communications include memos, bulletins, emails, faxes, and written advertisements.
Written communications are advantageous in many business settings, but in some cases, they may not be the best method of informational exchange. Written communications are beneficial because there is no need for personal contact, meaning that the sender and receiver can communicate at their own convenience. Further, written communications provide proof in the event of an incident and can save money on communications overall. However, written communications can be majorly disadvantageous because there can be a delay in communicating the message, a lack of secrecy is created when something is physically written, and they encourage a lack of direct contact between the communicating parties.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Written Communication In Business - A Practical Exercise:
The following exercise
Tim is the President of Genius Consultants, a consulting firm located in London and New York. Recently, Tim has had issues with John Grumpypants, the manager of the London branch. Many of the employees in the London office have reached out to Tim recently stating that John was extremely rude and aggressive with them. Since Tim values how his employees are treated, he called John and discussed these allegations seriously. John agreed and stated that his behavior would change. Unfortunately, Tim just received another 5 complaints this morning, stating that they are now afraid to go to the London office given John's aggressive behavior.
Tim decided to write the following email to John.
Following our conversation last week regarding your behavioral tendencies when dealing with employees, we had agreed that change was necessary, and you promised me that you would change your behavior. Given the information that I have received from the London office, it does not seem like you have taken my advice to heart. This is a formal warning that your management style must change immediately. Otherwise, this issue will be escalated with our legal department. I sincerely hope that the issue can be resolved promptly.
- Was Tim's choice to use written communication the right one? Why?
- Out of the elements of effective written communication presented in your Lesson, pick one, and determine if this email meets the criteria.
The answer is yes.
- The written communication allowed Tim to save money on a long-distance phone call from New York to London while also providing legal proof of escalation in case John would eventually need to be fired with just cause.
Students can refer to any of the elements presented in the lesson (e.g. the conciseness due to the short length of the email, the courtesy in the salutations, the correctness when referring to the previous conversation, etc.).
What is meant by written communication?
Communication refers to the sending, receiving, and sharing of information between two parties through various forms of media. Written communications are exchanges of information that involve written messages, either digitally or on paper. Written communications are beneficial because they do not require direct communication and they provide proof of an exchange in the event of an incident.
What are some types of written communication?
There are many types of written communication that can be used in a business setting. Written communications should be clear, concise, accurate, professional, and include all of the necessary information. Four of the most common types of written communication in business include emails, memorandums (memos), faxes, and advertisements.
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack