Great quotes about business writing


"No one really wants to read a document. They just want to know what it says"

Richard (delegate in 2015 workshop - thank you Richard!)


“One-third of professionals write poorly”

Harvard Business Review


“We train people to present – it’s a business skill. So why don’t we train them to write,  clearly and persuasively? The case for teaching it seems so obvious.”

Jeremy Bullmore, former Chairman of JWT London, member of WPP Advisory Board


"During my corporate career I signed up for a two-day class on business writing. I didn’t know it at the time, but business writing is almost the same as humor writing. In both cases you leave out the useless words and get to the point. That class was easily worth $100,000 to me because I would have used that skill no matter my career path."

Scott Adams, inventor of Dilbert comic strip


"Clarity, brevity, narrative and pace are axiomatic to creative writing, yet are seldom applied to business writing - to its great cost"    

Bob Wootton, Director of Media & Advertising, ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers)


“Complicated sets of initials, official jargon, bureaucracies that over-complicate things to boost their own self-importance - all of these things help to build barriers”  

Rt Hon. David Cameron MP


“How many of us, I wonder, when faced with pretentious gobbledygook and empty jargon, experience a kick start into despair mode?”

HRH Prince Charles


“People who write obscurely are either unskilled in writing or up to mischief.”

Professor Sir Peter Medawar


"By writing well, you can stand out from the crowd. There is too much poor writing in the business world."

Dr Andrew Sentance, Senior Economic Adviser, Pricewaterhousecoopers LLP (author of Rediscovering Growth: After the crisis)


"Clarity in business writing is not a luxury"

Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group


"What is more, even Grammar, the basis of all education, baffles the brains of the younger generation today. ... There is not a single modern schoolboy who can compose verses or write a decent letter." 

William Langland (writer of Piers Plowman) 1332-1386

(as you can see, this worry about standards has been running for some time)


"True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, 
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance"

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1711)


"People who think well, write well... Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well"

David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather


“I believe that the use of plain English is at times an overlooked yet essential issue for the improvement of communication between companies and the public”

Rt Hon. Sir Menzies Campbell MP


“Using plain English is not just a good intention. It is a business necessity”

Lord Alexander of Weedon, former chairman, NatWest Group


“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”

Albert Einstein


"Yes, I am aware of the technical distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, and between ‘uninterested’ and ‘disinterested’ and ‘infer’ and ‘imply’, but none of these are of importance to me. ‘None of these are of importance,’ I wrote there, you’ll notice – the old pedantic me would have insisted on “none of them is of importance”. Well I’m glad to say I’ve outgrown that silly approach to language..... There is no right language or wrong language any more than there are right or wrong clothes. Context, convention and circumstance are all."

Stephen Fry


"It's been an awkward time for teachers, who have the task of pointing out to their inernet-savvy students that this is a transitional moment. The old order still rules, and has to be respected. Omitting an apostrophe may not cause a problem in a text message, but it can cause a huge problem in essays, job applications, and other kinds of formal writing. Not because it makes meaning unclear, but simply because it goes against what society considers to be acceptable English. Students have to be taught how to manage this situation, so that they know what's expected of them"

Professor David Crystal


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