Written Communication

One of the unique ways humankind distinguished itself from the animal kingdom is through its ability to write and communicate. No other species can transfer knowledge the way we do by using written support. 

Written Communication Written Communication

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    Humanity's history was born and sustained thanks to our writing ability. Everywhere in the world, we can see signs and evidence of our ancestors who left their legacy behind. The first humans told stories of the past by drawing hunting scenes on cave walls. Egyptians engraved sculptures and walls with hieroglyphs to tell the story of their religion, customs, and daily life. Mesopotamians created cuneiform writing which was one of the earliest attempts at literature more than 5000 years ago. Then came more and more innovations that made writing accessible and widespread: the creation of papyrus, paper, books, typewriters, computers, and now, instant messaging.

    Keep reading this explanation to learn more about written communication: what it is, its importance, and the advantages and disadvantages of written communication. We also prepared some examples of written communication and ideas for improving it.

    Written Communication Definition

    Written and oral communication are the two ways humans communicate. As we are social beings, these are essential skills we need to live in a society with others.

    Written communication is the exchange of information, ideas, or messages through written language in the form of letters, emails, notes, and more.

    Our ability to write has transformed over time. Where it used to be drawings, it evolved into primitive symbols and then into a more codified system of letters and sentences. The ability to write has become even more accessible lately thanks to education and the evolution of technology that has made writing much cheaper. In 1820 only 12% of people could write the way we do, and today, about 86% of the world's population can read and write1.

    Written communication is used worldwide in various forms: letters, emails, blogs, instant messaging, books, newspapers, etc. Writing has become an intrinsic part of our humanity and history over the millennia.

    Check out our explanation of oral communication and types of communication for more information.

    Written Communication Skills

    It's none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.2

    - Ernest Hemingway

    As Ernest Hemingway put it, and unlike many believe, the ability to write is a skill; it's not something innate we have within ourselves. But, like with any skill, you can train your writing ability.

    Written communication skills refer to the ability to convey information effectively and clearly through written text. It involves using appropriate language, tone, and style to communicate the intended message, while also taking into account the audience and purpose of the communication.

    Although it is difficult to determine a perfect text, many factors influence good writing. To start improving your writing, you have to look at the three elements that constitute a text:

    • The content: what is written.

    • The style: the way it is written.

    • The structure: the way the content is explained and how clear it is for the reader.

    Now you can have a look at the particular skills that can directly affect these elements and therefore improve your writing skills:

    • The content: your content should, of course, be interesting and enjoyable to read.

    => One way to improve your content is to train your creativity skills.

    • The style: your writing style is something you will learn with practice.

    => One effective way to improve your style is to ensure you are not making grammar and punctuation mistakes.

    • The structure: your content should be well structured and clear to read.

    => You can improve your structure by improving your logical sense.

    Importance of Written Communication

    Since you have started reading properly, you haven't spent one day in your life without reading at least one sentence somewhere.

    Written communication is a very important aspect of human interaction for several reasons:

    • It provides a permanent and tangible record of information that can be referred to and used at any time.
    • In business, written documents serve as legally binding agreements and provide clarity and security in transactions.
    • It plays a vital role in conveying ideas, sharing knowledge, and transmitting information across vast distances and diverse audiences. Without written communication, much of our history, culture, and scientific discoveries would be lost or forgotten.

    Written communication is crucial in our lives, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we switch off the light to sleep in the evening.

    Types of Written Communication

    Although we can write about literally anything, there are only four types of written communication in the workplace: informational, instructional, transactional, and persuasive.3

    1. Informational: This type of writing is about giving information on a specific topic. It is generally for educational and practical purposes. For example, you can have informational writing in a business report, academic books, biography, etc
    2. Instructional: This type of writing provides the reader with specific information and direction to perform a task. The task is generally broken down into parts that are easy to understand and replicate for the reader. For example, you can find this writing in users' manuals, training programs, business memos, etc.
    3. Transactional: It is especially relevant in business writing, where people exchange information to conduct a transaction: exchange of goods or services, maintenance of business relations, a trade proposition, etc. For example, you can find this writing in emails, invoices, legally binding contracts, etc.
    4. Persuasive: Persuasive writing aims at convincing people of something or to take a specific action: whether to buy a product, donate money, convince them that a product is better, etc. You can find this writing in commercials, proposals, press releases, etc.

    Written Communication Examples

    People use different kinds of communication channels depending on the message's receiver, the context, and the type of information that needs to be sent4:

    • Letters: Although writing letters is a bit out of fashion today, it is still pretty much everywhere for formal correspondence, such as sending invoices, legal summons, etc.

    • Email: Although this writing channel has only been around for a few decades, it is now the norm for business communication.

    • Books: books have been around for thousands of years, and although people read more electronically, it is still one of the best ways to communicate information about a specific topic.

    • Instant messaging: we now have technology that lets us message people instantly (e.g., SMS, Whatsapp, etc.)

    • Social media: in today's world, for better or worse, anyone can give their opinion and be seen by the entire world.

    • Websites: People write blogs, newspapers, and other informative websites for information sharing and communication purposes.

    As you can see, we now have access to many ways to communicate written messages. These are only a few examples of the many other channels we can choose from to select the best communication method.

    A communication channel is a specific way, tool, or process used to send a written message.

    Written Communication Advantages

    Written communication offers many advantages:

    1. Documentation and Preservation: Written documents provide a permanent record of communication that can be stored, retrieved, and referred to at any time. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts that can arise from verbal communication.

    2. Clarity and Accuracy: Writing allows you to carefully consider your message, choose your words wisely, and edit and revise as necessary to ensure that your message is clear, concise, and error-free.

    3. Wider Reach: Written communication can be easily distributed to a large audience across the globe. Your message can reach a larger audience than you can communicate verbally.

    4. Legally Binding: Written documents can be used as evidence in legal proceedings and can serve as legally binding agreements between parties. This provides security and clarity in business transactions and other legal matters.

    5. Flexibility: Written communication provides flexibility in terms of when and where messages can be delivered and received. You can write and send messages at any time, and recipients can read and respond to them at their convenience.

    Written Communication Disadvantages

    Disadvantages of written communication are:

    • Writing a perfect document takes more time than speaking the same message out loud, which can slow down communication.
    • Writing requires materials such as paper, ink, a pen, a computer, or an internet connection, which can be costly or inaccessible.
    • Once something is written and published, it is difficult to change, which can cause misunderstandings or legal issues.
    • Not everyone is literate and can understand written information, which can limit the audience for written communication.

    Written communication is close to humanity's history, and as long as our specie is alive, we will most likely continue to write and share our stories with others.

    Written Communication - Key takeaways

    • Oral communication is the process of exchanging information through words and non-verbal cues.
    • Written communication includes exchanging information through letters, symbols, or even drawings.
    • There are three elements to writing:
      • The content: what is written.

      • The style: the way it is written.

      • The structure: the way the content is explained and how clear it is for the reader.

    • There are four types of communication: informational, instructional, transactional, and persuasive.
    • Written communication is everywhere, and it is crucial in our lives, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we switch off the light to sleep in the evening. Since we have started reading properly, there hasn't been one day in your life without reading at least one sentence from somewhere.
    • A communication channel is a specific way, tool, or process used to send a written message. People have many choices depending on the message's receiver, the context, and the type of information they need to send.

    References

    1. Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina. Literacy. 20/09/2018. https://ourworldindata.org/literacy
    2. Brainquote. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ernest_hemingway_114426
    3. Tom DuPuis. 4 Types of Business Writing Styles. 16/03/2022. https://www.instructionalsolutions.com/blog/types-business-writing
    4. Stephen P. Robbins | Timothy A. Judge. Organizational Behavior. 2019
    Frequently Asked Questions about Written Communication

    What is written communication in an organization?

    Written communication can be defined as the process of exchanging information through letters, symbols, or even drawings.

    What are 4 types of written communication?

    The four types of written communication are:

    • Informational: This type of writing is about giving information on a specific topic.
    • Instructional: This type of writing provides the reader with specific information and direction to perform a task.
    • Transactional: It is especially relevant in business writing, where people exchange information to conduct a transaction: exchange of goods or services, maintenance of business relations, a trade proposition, etc.
    • Persuasive: Persuasive writing aims at convincing people of something or to take a specific action.

    What is an example of written communication?

    An example of written communication is letters. Although writing letters is a bit out of fashion today, they are still pretty much everywhere for formal correspondence, such as sending invoices, legal summons, etc.

    Why is written communication important?

    Written communication is everywhere, and it is crucial in our lives, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we switch off the light to sleep in the evening. Since you have started reading properly, there hasn't been one day in your life without reading at least one sentence from somewhere. 

    Where is written communication used?

    Written communication is used worldwide in various forms: letters, emails, blogs, instant messaging, books, newspapers, etc. Writing has become over the millennials an intrinsic part of our humanity and history.

    What are 5 examples of written communication?

    Five examples of written communication are:

    • Letters
    • Email
    • Books
    • Instant messaging
    • Social media

    What are the 3 elements of written communication?

    The three elements of written communication are:

    • The content: what is written.
    • The style: the way it is written.
    • The structure: the way the content is explained and how clear it is for the reader.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of written communication?

    Advantages of written communication:

    • Documentation and Preservation
    • Clarity and Accuracy
    • Wider Reach
    • Legally Binding
    • Flexibility

    Disadvantages of written communication:

    • Time-Consuming
    • Material Requirement
    • Difficult to Change
    • Limited Audience
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    Team Written Communication Teachers

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