Common Mistakes Made by Beginners and Professors' Pet PeevesWriter's Web
(printable version here)

Common Mistakes Made by Beginners in Business Communication

Like any new material, mistakes are often inevitably made when beginning to learn how to communicate within the business world. However, the most common mistakes made by beginners are often associated with how business writing differs from forms of writing that students are more typically comfortable with. Once students understand those differences, they can more easily avoid making such mistakes. Professor Carey stresses the idea that students should condense their ideas as much as possible:

Beginners often don't think about the reader when they write, especially when it comes to emails. Emails should be short... you should be able to see everything in the first pop up screen because if it's lengthy, we'll think 'ugh, I don't have time to read this now.' So, often times, we disregard it and forget to come back to it.

Business professionals are characterized as fairly busy people. Whatever must be said in writing must be done efficiently by keeping the invested interests of the reader in mind, one of those interests being time. Business audiences will focus primarily on what is most convenient, so by making your writing convenient for the reader to read, business communicators are more likely to successfully achieve their intended purpose.

Professor Carey also makes note of how beginners overly explain their ideas by making the same point over and over again, but in subtly different ways. "Beginners are often redundant and wordy; they tend to have multiple sentences saying the same thing, but one sentence is sufficient," she stresses. Business audiences don't have the time or interest to read what they've already read. Make your point and move forward.

Professors' Pet Peeves for Academic Writing

Dr. Dean Croushore, Department Chair, Economics Department

  • Don't be boring; pull the reader into the essay as any other great writer does
  • Avoid overusing acronyms. Ex: "The MTR is higher than the ATR when the TS is progressive."
  • Provide the background information for your essay
  • Report both the data AND the corresponding graphs

Dr. Erik Craft, Economics Department:

  • Improper (or lack) of commas - see the Writer's Web page on Using Commas
  • The word "very"- ignite the creative fire and conjure up more effective substitutes (i.e. extremely, highly)
  • Introducing new quotes and/or evidence in the conclusion of the essay
  • Failing to explain your logic or method- no results would be complete without an explanation of how you obtained them

Dr. Jim Monks, Economics Department:

  • Don't cut and paste graphs/data/charts into the paper: it shouldn't be obvious where you obtained the source
  • Lack of clarity: don't write as you believe scholars write; simplify your word choice and sentence structure to improve clarity

Other Disciplines | Writer's Web | Writing Center | Make an Appointment | Library | Robins School of Business
Copyright Info