Writing clearly requires that you eliminate the mistakes that threaten clarity. The first mistake is thinking that writing is no more than transcribed speech. It isn't. When you're talking in person or on the telephone, you can rely on the context of conversation to fill in gaps and to compensate for being ungrammatical. That context is absent in writing, so a good writer makes sure that her writing is clear, grammatically correct, and to the point. When you acknowledge that writing is different from talking, the next important task is to eliminate the errors to which every writer is prone, which I discuss in the following sections.
Believe it or not, spelling errors can doom business relations. You may find it hard to believe, but clients notice when your letters aren't proofread. Many spelling errors are easily remedied by running your document through your computer's spell-check program. But beware - spell-checkers don't catch all the errors that can creep into a document. A trained eye is still better than a spell-check program. Remember to always double-check the spelling of the person's name to whom you are writing.
Most people are bored to tears by grammar, and for good reason: It's boring to most people! Grammar is a necessary skill for composing effective business letters, e-mails, and memoranda, however. Repeatedly making grammatical errors instantly brands you as being poorly educated and careless. Bad grammar leaves a bad impression.
So you slept through your grade-school grammar classes; your major in college required that you take only multiple-choice exams; and in graduate school, everyone was wowed by your fabulous technical expertise. Now you sweat bullets every time you have to compose a letter. Not to worry! The following sections note some of the most common grammatical errors and how to correct them.