1. Thou shalt not express your interests without first considering what matters to your reader.
2. Thou shalt not mindlessly copy and paste from previous communications, but instead choose the right words for this message at this time for this audience for this purpose.
3. Thou shalt not use inflated language and nonsensical jargon, for this will confuse or aggravate your reader and put your message at risk.
4. Remember to edit, and edit fully. For every 30 minutes you spend writing, invest another 60 in reviewing, revising, and reducing the length of your work.
5. Honor your message with professionalism, so that what you write will reflect positively on your company and your own reputation.
6. Thou shall kill your darlings, for if you have fallen in love with a phrase or paragraph, you are no longer putting your reader’s interests first.
7. Thou shalt not rely on spellcheck, for it is no substitute for reading your work aloud or asking a colleague to proofread it for you.
8. Thou shalt not click “send” in haste, but sit with your message long enough to know that it is clear, respectful, and effective.
9. Thou shall call the reader to action, for that is the way business gets done.
10. Thou shalt not neglect the visual effect of your message, but present your words in a format that is organized and easy for your busy audience to read.
Photo Credit: James Perkins via Flickr; Venn diagram is my own.