When to Use Contractions in Business Writing

As a copy editor, one of the most common questions I get asked regarding business writing is whether or not to use contractions. While some may argue that contractions are too informal for professional writing, the truth is that they can be perfectly acceptable in the right context.

First, let`s define what contractions actually are. Contractions are a shortened version of two words combined with an apostrophe. For example, “don`t” is a contraction for “do not,” and “can`t” is a contraction for “cannot.”

In business writing, the use of contractions can help to make your writing more approachable and conversational. This is particularly important when you`re trying to communicate complex information to your audience. By using contractions, you`re able to make your message more digestible and easier to understand.

However, just because contractions can be useful doesn`t mean they`re always appropriate. There are some situations in which contractions should be avoided in business writing.

Formal Documents

Formal documents such as reports, proposals, and contracts should be written in a formal tone and style. This means that contractions should generally be avoided in these types of documents. Instead, use the full form of the word to maintain a professional tone.

When Writing to Clients

When writing to clients, it`s important to strike a balance between being friendly and professional. Using contractions too frequently or inappropriately can make your writing seem too casual. Instead, use contractions sparingly and only when they help to make your message more clear and approachable.

When Writing to Superiors or Higher-Ups

When communicating with superiors or higher-ups in your organization, it`s best to err on the side of caution and avoid contractions altogether. While using contractions may seem like a way to appear more approachable or relatable, it can actually come across as too informal and unprofessional.

In conclusion, the use of contractions in business writing can be a useful tool to help make your writing more conversational and approachable. However, it`s important to use them appropriately and to avoid using them in situations where a more formal tone is required. Always consider your audience and the context of your message when deciding whether or not to use contractions in your writing.