The Little Black Book of Business Writing

Published : Thursday, July 01, 2010 | Label: Books  

The Little Black Book of Business Writing (UNSWP, 2010), which I wrote with Geoff Whyte, does for functional writing what The Little Red Writing Book (2006) aimed to do for all writing (creative, in particular). The black book is the third in my trilogy of books on the writing craft and the writing life.

Don’t use writing to sound like someone doing business (or policy or research, science or finance or sales); use writing to get the business done—intelligently, humanely, elegantly and well. And preferably fast. The Little Black Book of Business Writing shows you how.

The Little Black Book of Business Writing is a trim book of style for everyone who writes at work and wants to do it better. It’s also a lyrical rant against corporate cant and a cry for bureaucratic and scholarly grace. Challenging, practical and a joy to read, The Little Black Book may turn out to be the most useful little thing on your desk.


“Know what you’re talking about,” write Mark Tredinnick and Geoff Whyte, “and use language to get it said. Let the writing disappear; let the message stand there plain; let the deal be done. Tell the story of the facts, and keep the story short. Awkwardness is not required. Nor is stiff formality. The ultimate professionalism is to make sense fast, and to make sense pleasingly. It is to talk intelligently and carry your reader with you to the end of the paragraph, to the end of the document, to a share understanding, to agreement, to a sale, to whatever you’re aiming at.”

What are the seven deadly sins of functional prose, and what are the seven virtues? How do you land all your dot points? How do you make your writing flow, and how do you put your case without putting your reader off? How do you write without cliché and pomp? What’s the secret of the deft letter, the winning proposal, the readable report, the elegant summary, the crystalline minute, the smart newsletter, the urbane email and the and all the rest of it?

From the art of the start to the craft of the close, by way of twelve big ideas and a model for writing anything, The Little Black Book of Business Writing will help you master that core business function: writing.

This is a book for every bureaucrat and business person, every scientist and scholar, every buyer and seller, every engineer and executive—everyone, and that’s pretty much all of us, who has to perform their work in words.


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