Poor business writing wastes billions of dollars annually. In fact,
William DuBay, a recognized plain writing expert, says “as much as 40 percent
of the total cost of managing all business transactions is caused by poor
communications.” Think about this for a minute: almost all business activities
involve reading and writing; when the writing is unclear, productivity
plummets as readers struggle to understand.
In one of our recent programs, a participant estimated that their office spends
$270,000 per year writing standard reports. Two-thirds of the expense was
attributed to the re-write cycle (endless reviews, meetings, and rewrites). In
many organizations, writing ranks as the most inefficient, costly office
As business writers, we have two audiences, our colleagues, with whom we
work, and our clients, for whom we work. Once unclear writing reaches the intended audience, what happens?
Productivity takes another tumble as readers ponder, “What does this say?” or ask, “What am I supposed to
do?” When the writing makes readers work too hard, reader-frustration increases. Frustrated readers stop
reading, and the document “dies” a lonely death.