Why Writing Skills Are Important for Every Job—and How to Improve Yours

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Have you ever sent an email no one seemed to understand that ended up derailing the timeline for an entire project? Or written a report that you then had to explain verbally to everyone after they read it?

Even if you’re not in a job where writing is a core component of your professional duties, you probably use your writing skills every day to communicate with others through text (whether it’s over email or Slack, in a monthly or quarterly report, in the form of a project update, or otherwise). If fact, strong written communication skills are one of the top attributes employers look for , regardless of the job they’re hiring to fill.

There are a few different types of writing skills, and with practice you can strengthen them—and show them off in your next job search.

Why Are Writing Skills Important?

If you’re in a writing-centric or writing-heavy role—for example, marketing—you might already be aware of how your writing skills help you daily. But even if you aren’t in one of these jobs, “Writing is an essential skill in the workplace, especially today with more and more people working remotely,” says Muse career coach Jennifer Smith , founder of Flourish Careers . In an increasingly online world, “There's less face-to-face interaction and more written interaction.”

Strong writing skills help you to communicate with others without having to schedule a meeting or phone call. They ensure readers understand the key points of what you’re trying to get across, come away with the ideas and impression you want them to, and, in many cases, take action to do whatever you’re hoping they’ll do.

“Most professionals have to craft business emails,” says Muse career coach Tara Goodfellow , owner of Athena Consultants . Emails might be how you update your team on a project, request information from a colleague, or how you follow up on a meeting with clear next steps. And in some instances, an email is how you make your first impression on a new person. For example, if you’re an account executive reaching out to a prospect via email or LinkedIn, “A well-written sales pitch to a critical client will increase your credibility and help you land the new client,” Smith says.

You likely also use writing skills outside of email. Maybe you put together presentations that incorporate text or need to write a report on the results of something you did or researched. Or perhaps you’re going on vacation and you’re writing up what you need your teammates or reports to know or take care of while you’re out.

Writing is something others can refer back to at any point—as opposed to verbal communication, which might have to be repeated and requires both parties to be available at the same time. Written records can be particularly helpful when you’re trying to standardize how your team or company handles recurring tasks or training new coworkers to take these on. “Clearly writing and documenting new procedures can allow for future consistency and improved quality control,” Smith says, even if you’re not available to meet with and explain the processes to each new person taking them on.

Examples of Writing Skills

There are several types of skills that combine to make someone a strong writer, including:

Before you write a single word, you need to do your research about the topic you’re writing on. Gathering information that’s up-to-date and accurate is a key part of writing, and the process may help you figure out what content to include. Depending on what you’re writing, research may involve learning about your target customer—whether it’s an overall target market or individual company—evaluating sources for strength and credibility, talking to experts, reviewing and analyzing data, or talking to other members of your team.

Planning and/or Outlining

An outline is a pared-down sketch of what points or topics the document you’re working on will cover and how you plan to structure the information, which can give you a roadmap to follow as you write. Creating and following an outline ensures you’re incorporating all the important information in the right order and not being repetitive or straying too far from your point. It’s often easier to get outside input on an outline than to write an entire report or similar only to find out key information was missing. Outlining skills can also be used to map out a non-writing project ahead of time or plan a process, which can be especially helpful if you’re delegating to or collaborating with others.

Grammar and Clarity

Grammar is the set of rules governing language usage. It’s what guides everyone to communicate in a similar way and, as a result, understand each other more. There are many rules of English grammar, and you should definitely know the basic ones. But unless you’re a writer or editor, knowing the obscure little quirks of grammar usually isn’t necessary. What is necessary is knowing how to construct a clear, easy-to-read, and understandable sentence so you can communicate in writing.

Revising and Editing

Editing is the process of correcting and changing a piece of your own or someone else’s writing to strengthen it. You can revise or edit by making significant changes to the structure, organization, or content of a piece. Or you might proofread a piece of writing, checking for any misspellings, grammar mistakes, or typos. In other cases, you might be tweaking sentences or paragraphs to flow better or reflect a certain tone. Strong editing skills can be useful in a wide range of professional situations—from looking over a report or presentation for a teammate to spotting an error in an email you’re about to send the entire company.

Communication Skills

Even if writing isn’t a core part of your job, you’ll likely use it to communicate in the workplace. This might mean composing an email , messaging someone on Slack or Teams, giving feedback, creating a meeting agenda , or giving an update on a project. Being able to communicate clearly through writing will help your work go more smoothly, increase the chances you get what you want and need from others, prevent misunderstandings, and allow your colleagues to feel informed and included—ultimately strengthening your professional relationships.

9 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills

“Good writing can help you stand out and get ahead,” Smith says. So how do you improve your writing skills? Here are a few tips:

1. Brush Up on Grammar Basics

If you’re already feeling your eyes glaze over, don’t worry. Unless you’re a writer, editor, or similar, you don’t need to know whether it’s who or whom or when to use an em dash vs. a semicolon (and to be honest, editors don’t always know all these things). But you should know the basics: how to write in complete sentences rather than fragments or run-ons; how to use quotation marks and commas in typical scenarios; and when to use there, they’re, or their, to name a few.

There are a number of free resources online you can use to brush up on your grammar skills or answer individual questions, such as Grammar Girl and the content many dictionaries put out on their blogs. Or you might look into paid courses on platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera. You can find plenty of free quizzes (like this one ) to figure out your current level of skill and discover areas for improvement. There are also a number of books you can check out: The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is a classic—but still widely used and, more importantly, short—overview of the most important grammar rules, and Woe Is I by Patricia T. O’Conner is a more modern guide written in a lighter tone.

2. Read (and Study) the Type of Writing You Want to Improve

One of the best ways to improve your own writing is to read a lot . Note what writing resonates for you and look at that writing closely to see how it’s put together. Is it using a lot of technical words? Is the tone conversational or more serious? Does the writer use a lot of short sentences, mostly longer sentences, or a mix of both?

Reading of any type can help you get a sense of the different ways all the elements of writing can combine effectively. But it can be particularly helpful to focus on the same types of writing you want to improve. Reading Shakespeare is great if you enjoy it, but it’s unlikely to improve your emails. If you want to level up your marketing copy, technical reports, or written sales pitches, those are the types of writing you should be studying most closely.

3. Pick the Right Format for the Situation

You have to quickly update your boss on what you’ve done in the last week. What’s the best way to do it? Are you going to open up a new Google doc and write a five-page report covering every detail? Probably not. You’re likely going to type up an email with a few short paragraphs or bullet points that hit the key points in a way your boss can read quickly. 

On the other hand, if you’re detailing the findings of weeks of research, that five-page report might be necessary for your immediate supervisor or a teammate who needs to know about your process. But if you’re sharing those results with another department, it might make more sense to convey only the key takeaways or action items in a PowerPoint presentation with a few bullet points or short summary on each slide.

Knowing and choosing the correct format for a given piece of writing—based on your goals and intended audience—will give you the appropriate amount and type of space to share what you need to, and it’ll set your reader expectations correctly as well. Going back to the earlier example, if your manager sees a Slack message, they’ll expect that to take at most a few minutes to read, but if you send them a long document, they’ll be prepared to receive a lot of information (and might hold off on reading until they have the time they need to digest it).

4. Outline Before You Write

Especially when you’re writing something longer or particularly important, outlining beforehand can lead to a stronger finished project and make the process smoother. The best way to outline will depend on your personal preferences and what you’re writing. 

In most cases, you’ll want to divide your outline into sections (whether those sections indicate chapters, paragraphs, slides, or anything else) and note what the purpose of each section is. Why is it being included and what question is this section answering for your reader? Once you know that, you can quickly note what information needs to go in this section of your piece. As you’re outlining, check that the order of your sections makes sense. Would someone need a bit of info or context currently slated for a later section to understand what you’re saying here? Move that info or section up in your outline.

If you have a number of points you’d like to hit but don’t know in what order or how they go together, an outline can be even more helpful. Write out each key point in a way that’s easy to move around—for example, a bulleted list in a Word or Google doc or even individual index cards—and start by grouping similar and related points together. Then, organize these groupings in a way that flows logically. If you’re not yet sure what your key points are , you can do the same exercise with all of the smaller pieces of info you want to include and form your key points once you see how all your information goes together.

5. Be Aware of Your Audience and the Appropriate Tone for Your Writing

To communicate well through writing, it’s important to understand who will be reading and what sort of language is appropriate.

Consider how formal your language is—if you’re Slacking a teammate, you might be able to be more relaxed in your tone and word choice than when you’re emailing a client or preparing a presentation for stakeholders. In most professional situations you should skip the emojis and avoid using multiple punctuation marks unless the situation really calls for it. “Rarely is ‘!!!!!!’ needed,” Goodfellow says. And don’t write in all caps unless you actually mean to yell.

Before you write, note the knowledge level of your audience as it relates to the topic. “If they are aware of the situation, they [may] not need a great deal of detail,” Goodfellow says. For example, if you’re updating other members of the engineering team on a feature you coded, you can use tech jargon and skip the background, but if you’re writing about the new feature in a blog post for customers, you might need to explain things a bit more thoroughly, choose more common words, and explicitly state why it matters to them.

Before finishing any piece of writing, take the time to reread it while accounting for the audience’s point of view. “Keep in mind that how you intend the email may not be how it's perceived,” Goodfellow says. Tone is difficult to convey over text, especially humor—and you don’t want to imply an attitude you don’t mean. If you’re responding to an email chain, writing a comment on an ongoing thread, or in any way continuing a conversation, try to mirror the tone of the messages before yours, Goodfellow says.

6. Pay Attention to the Mechanics of Your Writing

Here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind that will help make almost anything you write easier to read and understand:

7. Get Feedback on Your Writing

If you’re looking to improve your writing skills, getting opinions from others about how you’re currently doing can be extremely helpful. You might not realize you tend to use the wrong form of “your” or that your sentences are way too long. But someone else might. It’s also common for individuals to use the same words and phrases over and over without realizing it. Similarly, you might think your writing is clear and to the point, but a reader might feel like there’s key context missing. As you get feedback from multiple people or on multiple pieces of writing, pay attention to any comments or critiques you’ve gotten more than once and focus on that area first.

Ask a teammate, manager, or someone else whose opinion you trust to look at something you’ve written and ask what would make your writing stronger. (If it’s someone you work with, it might be easiest to ask them for writing feedback on something they have to read anyway). 

Depending on what kind of writing you’re looking to work on, you might also be able join a writing group or community where people trade writing and critique one another, Smith says. You can find writing workshops (both online and in-person) through universities and other community programs—they often cost money but come with an experienced instructor or facilitator—or you can find (usually free) writing groups online. Meetup.com and professional organizations are great places to start your search.

8. Proofread

No matter what you’re writing, taking a last look to check for any typos or mistakes can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Did you contradict yourself somewhere or leave the verb out of a sentence? Read anything you’ve written out loud if possible. Sometimes things look OK on a screen, but when you try to say them, you realize something’s not right. In a similar vein, you might also print out your writing and correct it on paper, Smith says. Often this is enough to see your writing in a different way, making it easier to spot errors. If the writing has higher stakes or the impression it makes on the reader matters a lot, try to get someone else to read it as well, Goodfellow says.

9. Use Tech Tools as Aids—Not Substitutes

There are plenty of programs and plug-ins that claim to “fix” your writing, such as WritingProAid, Sapling, Grammarly, and even the spelling and grammar checkers built into word processors. These tools can make it easier to write well, Smith says. But they shouldn’t be your one source of truth. Computer programs tend to miss key context that human readers would understand. “Spell-check can help but there are many words that are ‘correct’ but may not be what you intended,” Goodfellow says.

None of these tools should stand in for a thorough proofread. As a professional editor, I use tools like this to call attention to possible errors, but I always look at their suggestions before accepting them and consider whether they’re actually correct or clear. I also look carefully for errors the tools didn’t catch at all. Computer programs can easily miss homophone mix-ups, tense switches between sentences, incorrect word choice, and other issues. And sometimes you may need to write in a style these tools aren’t programmed to support. For instance, if you’re writing about investing, they might mark stock tickers and common financial abbreviations as errors.

Showing Off Your Writing Skills in a Job Search

If you’re applying for a writing-heavy job, you may be asked to submit a writing sample along with your application or complete a skills test at some point during the interview process. But you can showcase your writing skills at other stages as well, no matter what kind of job you're applying to.

On Your Resume

Unless a specific type of writing skill, such as experience with social media copy or familiarity with a certain style guide, is listed in a job description or is clearly a big value add for a specific role, your writing skills don’t usually belong in your skills section —or at least, that’s not where recruiters and hiring managers will look for them. Instead, they’ll look at the way your resume is written to see these skills in action. Here are some guidelines to follow:

If you’re in a field where writing is a core component of your job, you can also link to writing samples directly from your resume even if you’re not asked for them to further show off your qualifications.

In Your Cover Letter

When writing a cover letter (and you should write a cover letter ), you’ll want to follow all the same advice as when you’re writing a resume. But cover letters give you more room to really show off your writing skills. Rather than rattling off lists of qualifications you have, use your cover letter to write succinct but persuasive anecdotes that come together to tell a coherent story about why you’re the right person for the job. Choose past experiences that are relevant to the job you want and support your overall narrative. And make sure your sentences and paragraphs flow in a logical way and it’s always clear why information is being included. You can also inject more voice and personality into a cover letter than you can in a resume to give the reader the sense of who you are as a person.

Throughout the Interview Process

Of course, interviews aren’t often conducted through writing. In fact, unless there’s a good reason for it (such as a disability accomodation for yourself or the interviewer), an all-text interview process may be a red flag for a job scam .

But you’ll still be communicating with your prospective employer via email throughout the process. “Taking the time to craft well-written email responses is a fabulous way to make a solid first impression,” Smith says. “Recruiters and hiring managers will notice a difference between well-thought-out responses vs. rushed comments.”

Remember you’re being evaluated not just for your ability to do a specific job, but for your potential as a teammate. A coworker or direct report who communicates via email in a clear and professional way will make everyone’s work easier in the long run, whereas someone who’s hard to understand in writing might seem like a future headache they’ll have to address—especially if you’ll be communicating with people outside the company through email.

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What Are Writing Skills?

Zoe Kaplan

person using writing skills at work by writing in a notebook

You don’t need to be the great next American novelist to use writing skills. Writing skills apply to nearly every field, even if you’re not working in a creative career.

At work, writing is a hard skill we use to send informative updates, check in with coworkers, document our work, and more. In this guide, you’ll learn how to improve your writing skills and show them off in job applications. We’ll cover: 

Writing Skills Definition

Why are writing skills important in the workplace, how to include writing skills in a job application, how to improve your writing skills.

Writing skills are the skills you use to write effectively and succinctly. A good writer is someone who can communicate their point to their audience without using too much fluff and in a way that the other person can understand.

Writing skills don’t just include the physical act of writing. Skills like research, planning and outlining, editing, revising, spelling and grammar, and organization are critical components of the writing process.

In the workplace, writing skills examples include:

You don’t need the title “writer” to use writing skills at work. You might be a marketer drafting copy that will entice an audience to join your virtual event or a UX designer trying to nail the best home page text to get people to click the “learn more” button. Maybe you’re a lawyer communicating with a client over email or an investment banker sharing a status update with your manager. 

Writing skills are needed in all workplaces, especially hybrid and remote ones. 

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employees , written communication skills are a top skill employers look for on student resumes right now, with 73.3% of employers searching for these skills — compared to 58.8% of employers looking for verbal communication skills .

“We’re seeing that written communication is even more critical than it once was,” Bryana Holcomb, business and success coach, says. “Some of the most important writing skills that every employee should have include grammar, clarity, appropriate tone, and the ability to be concise when needed. One of my favorite memes on social media is the one that says, ‘This meeting could have been an email.’ The caveat to that is in order to skip out on those ‘pointless meetings,’ we have to be able to express our needs, deliverables, roles, etc. clearly and effectively through email.”

There are two ways to show your writing skills in a job application: first, in your written materials (resume and cover letter ) and second, in how you describe your writing skills in the interview.

“The best way to showcase your writing skills on a job application or resume is to first have both be well written,” Holcomb says. “This means double-checking for spelling and syntax errors and making sure your thoughts are clear.”

>>>MORE: Write the resume employers want to read with Forage’s Resume Writing Masterclass .

Every written correspondence with the hiring manager is a chance to show off your writing skills. Be concise with no grammatical errors.

In the interview , describe how your writing — an email, copy, report, or essay — led to a specific accomplishment.

“Highlighting the ways you have leveraged writing effectively in your previous experiences is also important,” Holcomb says. “Whether you talk about the sales copy that helped your company land a multi-figure client or the emails you crafted that shifted the company culture for the better, all of your experiences count and should be highlighted.”

Start With Your Audience

Before you start writing, think about who you’re writing for. Your audience affects how much context you give, what tone you use, and even the message you want the audience to take away. Ask yourself:

Know the Right Tone

Every industry expects a different level of professionalism. So how do you know how formal to be and what corporate jargon to use? 

Start by looking at the job description, company website, and other company communications, including employee LinkedIn posts. Of course, it’s always better to err on the side of formality.

If you want to try your hand at professional writing before you apply, try one of Forage’s virtual experience programs . You’ll get a chance to do the kind of work you would in an entry-level role and learn how to communicate that work through client emails, email updates to your manager, and more. 

Get to the Point

“Writing an email is essentially like writing a media pitch and trying to capture the attention of a reporter,” Jamie Levin, communications consultant, says. “Think about it, you have about 11 seconds to capture the attention of your reader, so what’s most important? I can tell you what’s not…unnecessary words, adjectives that don’t add value and taking the time to explain something that would be much better off communicated in a face-to-face conversation.”

Before sending an email, update, or other written communication, challenge yourself to decrease your word count. For example, see if you can make the 200-word email only 150. This exercise will help you know if you have any “fluff” words that might be overcomplicating your writing.

Edit and Proofread

Sometimes, your best editor is your future self. Take a step back after you’ve finished writing something — even if it’s an email — and look back at it five minutes or even an hour later (if you have the time) to edit and proofread. 

Don’t be afraid to rely on outside sources to help you catch spelling and grammar errors. Sites like Grammarly can help make your writing error-free and suggest different wording depending on your audience’s knowledge level and the tone you’re aiming for.

Seek Outside Support

Holcomb recommends taking advantage of online and in-person classes that can help improve your writing skills.

“While you’re strengthening your skills in courses you can also seek support from people —this can be colleagues, managers, or mentors — by asking them to proof your work and provide feedback before you make your final submissions.”

Feedback is especially important in the job application process. For example, having another set of eyes on your cover letter can help ensure you submit something clear, compelling, and error-free.

Don’t Overthink It

While there’s a lot you can do to improve your writing skills, you don’t need to labor over every written communication. In an increasingly virtual world, there are so many emails and messages that you’ll waste valuable time trying to plan, edit, and revise every one. 

“Don’t overthink – it’s an email. It shouldn’t take 20 minutes to draft, and then additional 20 minutes spent thinking about how it might be interpreted. Get to the point,” Levin says. “Remember, it’s only an email (or a Teams chat) and it often requires additional elaboration in the form of verbal communication and an open discussion, whether that be in-person or via a video chat.”

Instead, focus on improving your writing and communication skills as a whole. With practice, those short messages will become second-hand nature.

Looking to improve your professional writing skills? Try ANZ’s Preparing You for the Workforce Virtual Experience Program , where you can practice research, email writing, and presentation skills .

Image credit: RF._.studio / Pexels

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The Most Important Writing Skills (With Examples)

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How to Improve Your Writing Skills

Mastering your writing skills is important no matter what type of job you have. Writing proficiency is a critical part of business communication, allowing you to clearly and easily convey your ideas to clients and co-workers. In this article, we’ll discuss the key types of writing skills and how you can improve them. Key Takeaways Some of the most important writing skills include correct grammar, conciseness, and writing for your audience and platform. Outlining, good organization, and using facts rather than opinions are also important writing skills to have. You can improve your writing skills by practicing, working with others, and reading. The Top 9 Most Important Professional Writing Skills

While there are many valuable writing skills, these are some of the most important ones to develop.

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation. No matter the content of your writing, your client, boss , or recruiter will instantly notice any spelling or grammatical mistakes you make.

Poor spelling sends a negative first impression that weakens your credibility. As a result, you’ll distract from whatever you’re trying to communicate .

According to multiple publications, over 80% of surveyed employers state that they immediately reject resumes that contain any more than one or two grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Poor spelling can also severely hurt you even if you are the employer. In a 2011 study, the BBC calculated that poor spelling alone cost UK businesses millions of pounds in online sales each year.

Improving your spelling and punctuation skills is just a matter of catching your mistakes and correcting them as you go. Always make sure that spell-checker is enabled when you’re creating a document for work .

Concise language. Whoever you’re sending an email or report to will likely have many other tasks and information running through their mind.

Get to the point quickly and clearly describe what you’re asking for, and you’ll increase your chances of receiving a favorable response.

After you’ve written anything for work, quickly read it over and ask yourself if you can make any thought more concise without losing meaning.

Over time, you’ll internalize this thought process and apply it as you’re writing.

Here’s an example of wordy versus concise writing:

Wordy: Our organization is intent on incorporating the highly respected values of integrity, excellence, and innovation in everything every employee and manager does. Concise: Our organization’s values are integrity, excellence, and innovation.

Writing for your audience. Always keep in mind your audience when writing anything for work.

This is important not just for maximizing the clarity of your writing, but also for making clients, managers, and stakeholders feel that you understand them and their needs.

Depending on the audience, consider the appropriate:

Tone. The proper tone to use depends on the audience and type of document.

For example, when writing to consumers, you typically want to communicate with a conversational tone that makes them feel like they’re talking to a real person.

If you’re writing to business-to-business clients or creating project proposals , on the other hand, then you should adopt a more professional tone.

Terminology. Consider whether all parties reading any document you’re writing will understand all the contained terminology.

If you’re an engineer writing a training guide for a piece of software, you’ll want to use more general language if the guide is meant for new hires than if it’s for existing team members.

Active voice. Using active voice is a way to strengthen your ideas and make them feel more direct.

Whenever you use a verb , make sure you’re writing the phrase as an actionable statement.

Here is an example of the same sentence written in active versus passive voice:

Passive voice: If you have any concerns, I can be reached at [email protected] Active voice: If you have any concerns, email me at [email protected]

Note that although you should generally prioritize active voice to strengthen your message, it isn’t necessarily “better” than passive voice.

Which one you choose ties into the overall tone of your writing, and it’s sometimes more appropriate to use passive voice.

For example, if you’re working in a research field it’s often standard procedure to write in a passive voice. Passive voice may also work better if you’re speaking vaguely or generally about a topic.

Relying on facts, not opinions. Unless you’re speaking with long-time team members that you’ve built credibility with, use evidence when trying to influence their decisions , not opinions.

Great way to do this include referencing:

Numbers. Statistics and numbers are highly meaningful and memorable, making them great rhetorical tools for conveying your points to others.

If you tout a 20% cost savings due to you or your product, that’ll create a much stronger impression than you stating your opinions ever could.

Especially when it comes to your resume, you should describe your achievements at past jobs using numbers. With a single line, you’re communicating the explicit benefit the employer could secure for the company by hiring you.

A useful tip is to note down any statistics that you learn. Try to be creative and recognize what figures could be tangentially related to your work or product.

For example, suppose the price of a certain product has risen by X%.

Testimonials. Human brains are wired to highly-value social proof.

If you can demonstrate that your boss, colleagues, or previous clients trust you, that’ll make a strong, positive impression on the party you’re currently dealing with.

You’ll typically combine this method with the others on this list.

Outlining. Outlining any piece of writing before you begin provides a few key benefits:

Improves the structure and flow of your writing.

Helps you compellingly organize thoughts.

Cuts down on thinking-time when you’re writing.

The best way to improve your outlining skills is to develop an iterative approach.

Start with just a rough skeleton that maps out the order of your overarching thoughts. Next, go through each thought and start outlining the sub-elements.

Adapting for the platform. The writing techniques you use don’t just vary by audience, but by the platform as well.

Organization and structure. Most people tend to dedicate 80% of their attention to the first 20% of any piece of writing they read.

This means that for business emails and documents, a disorganized and illogical structure could cause readers to miss important language.

A few helpful tips for structuring your writing are:

Put the important information at the front. Especially for business emails, most people will appreciate it if you get straight to the point.

Separate different thoughts. The smaller your walls of text, the more legible it’ll be and the more willing people will be to do more than just skim it.

Writing a resume. When writing your resume, there are a few major guidelines to follow that are well-researched and proven to maximize your chances of landing interviews.

The most important tips to keep in mind are:

Keep it brief. Employers spend an average of only seven seconds reading over each candidate’s resume.

Choose a logical structure. In general, you should include the following sections in this order:

Name and contact information

Summary or personal statement (optional)

A brief list of key skills (more important for technical jobs)

Job experience

Education history

Volunteer work and related interests (optional)

Proofread, then proofread again. Almost everyone makes one or two mistakes with their first draft.

Proofreading your resume twice costs a total of two minutes.

If, after reading this article, you feel that some of your writing skills aren’t up to par, there are a few ways you can improve them, including practicing, working with others, and reading.

Practice, practice, practice. The more you write, the better you get. If you have an idea for an article — even if it’s just a paragraph — write it down. Say yes to projects that involve writing, and keep a journal of your ideas or random writing projects. No one has to read it, so take the pressure off and just write.

Read your work out loud. Before you publish, submit, or send anything you’ve written, read it out loud first. This will help you see errors and awkward sections that your eye would’ve skimmed over otherwise, and it’ll help you start to notice your voice, bad habits, and strong points.

Involve someone else in your writing. Whether it’s asking someone to edit your work, taking a class, or finding a writing partner , getting someone else’s feedback on your work is invaluable. Even if they aren’t necessarily a writing expert , they can tell you where they’re confused or fully engaged, which is valuable in itself.

Read all you can. The more good writing you read, the better writer you become. You’ll start to subconsciously incorporate what you read into your own writing, and you’ll get a better idea of what voice and style you want to emulate. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day, set aside time to read well-written articles and books.

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Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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7 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Writing, like any other skill, is something you can get better at with time and practice. Learn how.

[Featured Image]: A woman with curly hair and wearing a white long sleeve shirt, writing in her notebook, while sitting in front of her computer.

From sending emails to preparing presentations, writing is often a day-to-day task in many professions spanning diverse industries. Writing skills go beyond grammar and spelling. Accuracy, clarity, persuasiveness, and several other elements play a part in ensuring your writing is conveying the right message.

What are writing skills?

Writing is a technical skill that you use to communicate effectively through the written word. Though these may vary depending on what you’re writing, there are several that transcend categories. Writing skills can more specifically include:

Sentence construction

Research and accuracy


Each of these components can influence the quality of writing.



Effective Communication: Writing, Design, and Presentation

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Skills you'll build:

Business Writing, Presentation, Graphic Design, Writing, Grammar, Communication, Graphics, Typography, Public Speaking, Communication Design

Why are writing skills important?

Being able to write well is a form of effective communication , which many employers see as a crucial job skill . In fact, strong communication—spanning written, verbal, non-verbal, and visual—is among the nine common employability skills that employers seek in job candidates.

Regardless of your role, with good writing skills, you can clearly transcribe your thoughts into meaningful messages, enabling you to share your ideas, build relationships, and strengthen your professional image.

Learn more: Important Communication Skills and How to Improve Them

How to improve your writing skills

Writing, like any other skill, is something we can get better at with time and practice. Here are some strategies for developing your own written communication:

1. Review grammar and spelling basics.

Grammar and spelling form the foundation of good writing. Writing with proper grammar and spelling communicates your professionality and attention to detail to your reader. It also makes your writing easier to understand.  

Plus, knowing when and how to use less-common punctuation, like colons, semicolons, and em-dashes, can unlock new ways to structure sentences and elevate your writing. 

If you’re looking to strengthen your grammar and spelling, start by consulting a writing manual. The Elements of Style by William Stunk and E.B. White has long been considered a staple for writers. You can find similar resources at your local library, bookstore, or online.


Academic English: Writing

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2. Read what you want to write.

Knowing what a finished piece of writing can look like can guide your own. If you’re trying to write a humorous short story, read humorous short stories. Writing a book review? Find a few and take note of how they’re structured. Pay attention to what makes them good and what you want to emulate (without plagiarizing, of course). If you’re working on a school assignment, you can ask your instructor for examples of successful pieces from past students.

Make reading a part of your everyday life to improve your writing. Try reading the news in the morning or picking up a book before you head to bed. If you haven’t been a big reader in the past, start with topics you’re interested in, or ask friends and family for recommendations. You’ll gradually begin to understand what subjects, genres, and authors you enjoy.

3. Proofread.

While it’s tempting to submit work as soon as you’re done with it, build in some time to revisit what you’ve written to catch errors big and small. Here are a few proofreading tips to keep in mind:

Set your work aside before you edit. Try to step away from your writing for a day or more so you can come back to it with fresh, more objective eyes. Crunched for time? Even allotting 20 minutes between writing and proofreading can allow you to approach your work with renewed energy.

Start with easy fixes, then progress to bigger changes. Starting with easier changes can get you in the rhythm for proofreading, allow you to read through your work once more, and clear distractions so you can focus on bigger edits. Read through your work to catch misspellings, inconsistencies, and grammar errors. Then address the larger problems with structure or awkward transitions. 

If you could say something in fewer words, do so. Being unnecessarily wordy can cloud your message and confuse the reader. Pare down phrases that are redundant, repetitive, or obvious.

Read out loud. Reading out loud can help you find awkward phrases and areas where your writing doesn’t flow well. 

Should you use computer spelling and grammar tools?

Many computer-based tools—like spell check on your word processor, or Grammarly — can help you find and fix simple spelling and grammar errors. These tools are not perfect but can help even the most seasoned of writers avoid mistakes. Take note of any frequently highlighted words or phrases so that you can avoid the same mistakes in the future.

4. Get feedback.

Whether you’re writing emails or essays, asking for feedback is a great way to see how somebody besides yourself will interpret your text. Have an idea of what you’d like your proofreader to focus on—the structure, conclusion, the persuasiveness of an argument, or otherwise. 

Approach a trusted friend, family member, coworker, or instructor. If you’re a student, your school might also have a writing resource center you can reach out to. 

You might also consider forming a writing group or joining a writing class. Find writing courses online, at your local community college, or at independent writing workshops in your city.

5. Think about structure.

Grammar and spelling keep your writing consistent and legible, but structure ensures the big ideas get across to the reader.

In many cases, forming an outline will help solidify structure. An outline can clarify what you’re hoping to convey in each section, enable you to visualize the flow of your piece, and surface parts that require more research or thought. 

Structure might look different depending on what you’re writing. An essay typically has an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A fiction piece might follow the six-stage plot structure: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement. Choose what’s best for your purposes.


Creative Writing

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Like many skills, one of the best ways to improve your writing is to practice. Here are a few ways you can get started:

Start a journal or a blog.

Join a class or writing workshop.

Practice free writing.

Write letters to friends or family.

Put together an opinion piece for your local newspaper or publication you like.

7. Know some common fixes.

Even if a text is grammatically correct, you may be able to make it more dynamic and interesting with some polish. Here are some common ways you can sharpen your writing:

Choose strong verbs (for example, “sprinted,” “dashed,” or “bolted” instead of “ran”).

Avoid passive voice.

Vary sentence length.

Cut unnecessary words.

Replace cliches with original phrasing.


Good with Words: Writing and Editing

Writing. Editing. Persuasion. Learn the mechanics and strategy of effective communication.

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Showing your writing skills in a job search

Your writing skills will shine throughout the job search process , whether or not you intend to show them off. This is because job applications are largely written materials, including your cover letter , resume , and email communications . Use these opportunities to demonstrate your writing skills to prospective employers by submitting clear, accurate, and engaging materials.

Additionally, if you have specialized expertise, such as experience with legal writing, medical writing, technical writing, or scientific writing, you can note that in a resume skills section and further detail that experience within your cover letter or during your interviews .

Getting started

Whether you’re a scientist or a product manager, journalist or entrepreneur, writing effectively will enable you to communicate your ideas to the world. Through practice, exposure, and familiarizing yourself with basic rules, you’ll be able to use your writing to say exactly what you want to say.

If you’re looking for a structured way to expand your writing skillset, explore writing courses on Coursera —the first week is free.

Give your team access to a catalog of 8,000+ engaging courses and hands-on Guided Projects to help them develop impactful skills. Learn more about Coursera for Business .

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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Writing Skills

Writing skills are an important part of communication.  Good writing skills allow you to communicate your message with clarity and ease to a far larger audience than through face-to-face or telephone conversations.

You might be called upon to write a report , plan or strategy at work; write a grant application or press release within a volunteering role; or you may fancy communicating your ideas online via a blog.  And, of course, a well written CV or résumé with no spelling or grammatical mistakes is essential if you want a new job.

Today, when anyone can be their own publisher, we see more and more examples of poor writing skills both in print and on the web.  Poor writing skills create poor first impressions and many readers will have an immediate negative reaction if they spot a spelling or grammatical mistake . As just one example, a spelling mistake on a commercial web page may cause potential customers to doubt the credibility of the website and the organisation.

For many of us it will have been a long time since we were taught any writing skills and a refresher may be needed.

This section of SkillsYouNeed aims to make you think about your writing - from grammar , spelling and punctuation , how to plan your writing, and the various processes and checks to go through before pressing print or broadcasting your message online. It also provides guides for specific pieces of writing that you may need to produce, whether at school, university, or in the workplace.

Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

Correct grammar, punctuation and spelling are key in written communications.  The reader will form an opinion of you, the author, based on both the content and presentation, and errors are likely to lead them to form a negative impression.

If you are unconvinced about the importance of accurate writing, think of the clues we use to identify spam emails, “phishing” websites, and counterfeit products: poor grammar and spelling.

Similarly, some employers state publicly that any CV or résumé containing spelling or grammatical mistakes will be rejected immediately, whilst a BBC news article quotes research that calculates spelling mistakes cost online businesses “millions” in lost sales.

Checking for poor writing and spelling mistakes should be seen as a courtesy to your readers since it can take them much longer to understand the messages in your writing if they have to think and re-read text to decipher these.

All written communications should therefore be re-read before sending to print, or hitting the send button in the case of emails, as it is likely that there will be errors.  Do not assume that spelling and grammar checkers will identify all mistakes as many incorrect words can indeed be spelt correctly (for example, when “their” is used instead of “there” or “principle” instead of “principal”) or entire words may be missing. If at all possible, take a break before re-reading and checking your writing, as you are more likely to notice problems when you read it fresh.

Even if you know spelling and grammar rules, you should still double-check your work or, even better, have it proof-read by somebody else. Our brains work faster than our fingers can type and accidental typographical errors (typos) inevitably creep in.

Improving Your Writing Skills

The good news is that writing is a skill which can be learned like any other. One trick for checking and improving your work is to read it aloud. Reading text forces you to slow down and you may pick up problems with the flow that your eye would otherwise skip over.

Another way to improve your writing skills is to read - as you read you pick up new vocabulary and engage with different writing styles.

See our pages: Effective Reading and Writing Styles for more information.

There are a number of areas to bear in mind as you write.

As well as grammar, spelling and punctuation, it’s important to remember your audience . Always write with your audience in mind, and it can also help to bear in mind the medium in which you plan to publish. This knowledge will help you to decide whether you need to write in a formal style or a more informal one , and will also help you to decide on a suitable structure .

Finally, have a look at our page on Common Mistakes in Writing and Gender Neutral Language to help you avoid falling into some easy traps.

There is a time and a place for clichés. They exist because they explain exactly what we want to say in easy-to-understand terms. But some people find them very annoying, and you need to use them with care. See our page on What is a Cliché? for more information.

Writing under Specific Circumstances

There are many times in your life when you will be asked to write something very specific. Whether this is to take notes of a conversation, write the minutes of a formal meeting, or prepare a report, all these types of writing require specific skills, and usually a particular style.

Writing at Home

Many people would say that the art of letter-writing is dying out. However, there are still many times when you need to put pen (or word processor) to paper. See our page on How to Write a Letter for more.

Writing in the Workplace

Being able to write well is a skill which will get you a long way in the workplace, partly because it is fairly rare in many places.

One skill that many people lack, especially in management and other professional environments is the ability to write in plain English. That is avoiding unnecessary jargon, industry specific buzzwords and clichés and keeping sentences short and concise. See our page Writing in Plain English for more.

Taking the time to polish your writing skills is likely to pay off in the longer term, and learning how to write specific types of documents will also be useful.

See our pages on How to write a report , a business case , an executive summary and a press release for some specific examples that may also have wider applications. For example, being able to prepare a strong summary is a skill that is extremely useful for briefing senior managers.

You may also find our pages on note taking for reading , note taking for verbal exchanges and taking minutes: the role of the secretary useful if your job or a voluntary role includes recording formal meetings.

Writing Job Applications

At one time or another, most of us need to write a job application.

Nowadays, job applications usually require a CV or résumé , together with a really strong covering letter . A good LinkedIn profile will also help your application to stand out from the rest, as will managing your online presence effectively.

Writing for Study

Apart from the workplace, you are most likely to need writing skills as part of a course of study, whether at college or university.

You may, for example, need to write essays, a report, a research proposal or even a dissertation or thesis. These pieces of work are often very long, and need careful structuring and writing.

For more information about all of these, see our Study Skills pages, including specific pages on writing an essay , a research proposal , a literature review , and a dissertation or thesis . Finally, don’t forget to read up on Academic Referencing to ensure that you don’t fall foul of any plagiarism guidance.

Start with: Understanding Grammar

16 Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

Dan Shewan

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a marketer quite like being asked to write a blog post . Some marketers would rather wrestle with pivot tables (or grizzly bears) for days on end than write a blog post – but why?

Improve my writing skills bear attack

Writing doesn’t have to be this painful.

With content marketing shaping up as one of the most important marketing skills to have on your resume, getting a handle on writing could really benefit your career as well as the obvious benefit of increasing traffic to your company’s site .

Writing is intimidating to a lot of people, particularly those who don’t write for a living or on a regular basis. The good news is that writing doesn’t have to be agonizing, and almost anybody can improve their writing skills with a little discipline and a willingness to learn. Want to become a better writer? Here are 16 ways you can start improving your writing skills right now.

1. Brush Up on the Basics

Before you can start writing incredible content, you’ll need at least an intermediate understanding of the basic principles of writing.

This doesn’t mean you need to enroll in a prestigious creative writing program at an Ivy league university, but you will need to know the basics of grammar and spelling. Every writer should have a copy of “ The Elements of Style ” by Strunk and White on their bookshelf, as this small but invaluable book is one of the most comprehensive resources on the correct use of grammar and other helpful topics.

For quick and easy online resources, bookmark Grammar Girl and, of course, Merriam-Webster .

Improve my writing skills grammar crackers

2. Write Like It’s Your Job

If you want to get better at something, you have to practice – and writing is no exception!

Unfortunately, there are few shortcuts that can transform you into an amazing writer overnight, and even the most talented writers had to learn their craft over a period of many years. It’s admitedly even harder to write while considering SEO and how to drive traffic to your post.

If you want to improve your writing skills, writing on a regular basis will not only diminish your fear of the blank page (or blinking cursor), it will also help you develop a unique style. So, even if nobody reads it, keep writing. Practice makes perfect.

Learn how to write better ad copy with our free guide >> 10 Tricks to Get the Click

3. Read Like It’s Your Job

The best writers are also keen readers, and reading on a regular basis is an easy way to start developing your writing skills. I don’t just mean blog posts, either – diversify your reading material. Expand your horizons to more challenging material than you typically read, and pay attention to sentence structure, word choice, and how the material flows.

Improve my writing skills cat reading book

The more you read, the more likely you are to develop an eye for what makes a piece so effective, and which mistakes to avoid.

4. Find a Writing Partner

If you work at a reasonably sized company, the chances are pretty good that there is at least one other person who is also wondering how to become a better writer. Although writing is typically considered a solitary activity, the best writers know when it’s time to get much-needed feedback on their work.

Talk to your coworkers (or friends) and ask someone if they’d be willing to cast an eye over your work – they may spot mistakes that you overlooked.

Finding a writing partner is also a great way to hold yourself accountable and keep going.

5. Join a Workshop or Take a Night Class

Most people balk at the idea of standing in front of a room full of strangers and baring their soul to the world, but joining a writing workshop can be immensely beneficial – and a lot of fun (if you manage to find a good one).

Improve my writing skills writing workshop

You don’t need to have an unfinished novel hidden away in your desk drawer to join a workshop. These days, content marketing meet-ups and professional development groups are becoming wildly popular. Join one of the many content marketing groups on LinkedIn to meet like-minded writers, or search for writing workshops near you on sites like Meetup . Pick a topic, write something, listen to the feedback of the group, and then revise it. Rinse, repeat.

6. Dissect Writing That You Admire

Most people read the same blogs or sites on a regular basis because the material appeals to them – but fewer people understand why their favorite blogs are so appealing.

Find a handful of recent blog posts you really like, then print them out. Next, just like your high school English teacher did, take a red pen and highlight things you liked: certain sentences, turns of phrase, even entire paragraphs. Examine why you like these elements, and see if there are any common threads in your favored reading material. See how writers take one subject and transition into another. Apply these techniques to your own work.

Let’s take a look at a particularly powerful (and memorable piece) from Copyblogger that serves as a great example of this.

Improve my writing skills copyblogger example

Immediately, you’re hooked by Morris’ opening. You can’t not read to see what happens next. The pacing is excellent, it grabs your attention, and best of all, it keeps you reading . This piece was first published back in June, and I still remember it. Read the full post here , and see how Morris masterfully tells the story of a band named Death and how this relates to writing content.

7. Imitate Writers You Admire

Before we go any further, a disclaimer – imitation is not the same as plagiarism. Don’t rip off anyone’s work. Ever.

Just as you probably have a list of blogs you read often, you’ll likely also read the same writers on a regular basis. Identify what it is you enjoy about their work, and see if you can use it to improve your writing skills . Does a writer you like use humor to spice up dry topics? Try it. Do they use pop culture references to make their work entertaining and useful? Try that, too.

When I first started writing, I imitated some of my favorite nonfiction writers and essayists, such as Joan Didion, Truman Capote and Bill Bryson. I also attempted (and failed) to imitate writers such as Dave Eggers and Dan Kennedy, but soon realized that I wasn’t funny enough and gave it up. Over time, I eventually developed my own style, but reading the works of these writers and seeing how they constructed their essays and books was immensely helpful to me as a writer (see tip #3).

8. Remember That Outlines Are Your Friend

The blinking cursor of a blank page is a considerable foe, even for the most experienced writers. Before putting pen to proverbial paper, sketch out an outline of what you plan to write. This will be your battle plan, and it will help you win the war. Very few – and I do mean very few – writers sit down to write anything without a solid plan in mind.

Improve my writing skills outlining with post its

An outline doesn’t have to be complex. A simple framework of which sections should appear in a particular order, along with a few sentences about what each section contains, may be enough. If the topic you’re tackling is a little more complex, your outline might have to be, too – but having an outline before you write is like having a roadmap in the glove box of your car before a road trip. If you start to feel lost, refer back to your outline and get back to kicking ass and taking names.

Let’s take a look at a real example – one of my own outlines:


Brief summary of the post

Section 1 – What is Brand Voice?

Paragraph(s) explaining the key principles behind brand voice (style, tone, and messaging)

Examples of each

Section 2 – Developing Brand Voice with Content

Explanations of how to develop brand voice using content (written, visual, video)

Considerations for content producers/marketers to bear in mind when producing content (strategy, goals, overall brand messaging)

Section 3 – Examples of Content That Builds Brand Voice

Several examples (three or four) of content that aligns well with marketing positioning and branding of recognizable brands

This outline eventually became my recent post about brand voice . I deviated from my initial outline slightly, but the overarching structure was always there to keep me on target.

9. Edit Your Work Ruthlessly

So, you’re writing every day (or regularly, at least), and you’re feeling more confident about your work. Awesome! Now you’re going to become your own harshest critic.

Improve my writing skills editing process

Editing is a tough skill to learn for beginner writers, because they place immense value on the time and effort they put into writing in the first place. However, a lot of writing is actually rewriting, and this is where the cold, hard eye of an editor will serve you well.

Develop the discipline it takes to eliminate extraneous words (more on this shortly). Resist the temptation to wax lyrically and get to the point. Not sure if a paragraph works? It probably isn’t. Be tough on yourself, and know when to delete or rework something . Your work will be much stronger as a result.

10. Accept That First Drafts Are Almost Always Crap

The best writers make it look so easy. After reading a great post, it’s tempting to imagine your favorite bloggers effortlessly turning in incredible posts with minimal effort before spending the rest of their day reading obscure books in a quaint corner café somewhere. Take comfort in the knowledge that this isn’t how writing works.

Improve my writing skills first drafts are crap

First drafts are almost always crap, and that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t create a masterpiece on your first attempt – chances are, you probably won’t, and that’s okay, too. Just get your ideas down on paper first, then go back and start cleaning up. Writing is an iterative process, and even the best writers have to spend a lot of time reworking material they were probably too embarrassed to show anybody.

11. Find a Good (Patient) Editor

Whether you’re trying to make the case for a content strategy to your manager or want to start guest blogging on your favorite sites, finding and working with a good editor is one of the best things you can do to improve your writing skills. I’ve worked with dozens of editors over the years, and in my experience, the best are those who show you why something doesn’t work, rather than just telling you that it doesn’t.

Improve my writing skills everyone needs a good editor

Allowing someone else to read your work can be brutally difficult for some writers, especially when they’re just starting out, but it’s crucial that you develop good habits from the outset and learn to accept constructive criticism about your work. Remember – writers are desperately needy creatures who need to be constantly reassured that they’re the creative geniuses they believe themselves to be, but you’ll need to develop a thick skin if you’re serious about your work, and a good editor is invaluable when it comes to toughening up.

12. Eliminate Unnecessary Words

Another common mistake among beginner writers (and some more experienced writers who should know better) is writing overly complex sentences in an attempt to “sound” more authoritative.

In many cases, shorter sentences can have a greater impact. You may have heard of a six-word story that was supposedly written by Ernest Hemingway, which reads, “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Whether Hemingway wrote this or not is irrelevant – the power of these six words shows that brevity can be a powerful tool when used correctly, and not every sentence needs to be overwrought to get your point across.

Improve my writing skills baby shoes never worn

Let’s look at another real example from one of my posts – my very first post for WordStream, as it happens. This lengthy sentence is a prime candidate for a ruthless red pen, even if my lame jokes were intended to give it a little more flavor. I’ve edited the sentence to show you how you could edit a similar line in your own work (additions italicized).

“Whether you’re a newcomer to Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) or have been running PPC campaigns for years , you’ve probably given a great deal of thought to about which keywords will result in  more clicks  and  higher conversions  – not to mention that vacation home in Lake Tahoe you’ve been dreaming about.”

Speaking of words…

📗 Free guide >> 120 Words & Phrases for Marketing With Emotion

13. Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane

I’ve been writing professionally, in one way or another, for the past ten years. When I look back at my early work, which I do every so often, it literally makes me cringe. I don’t do this because I’m a masochist, but to remind myself how far I’ve come.

Writing should be fun, and along with the thrill of seeing your byline for the first time, seeing how far you’ve progressed is one of the most satisfying parts of being a writer. Every now and then (but not too often), re-read your earlier work and marvel at how much better you are now than you were then. Pat yourself on the back. You’ve worked hard, so don’t be shy – congratulate yourself.

14. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think

Most content on the web is bland and dreadfully boring. This is because far too many bloggers focus on regurgitating the same news as everybody else without bothering to add their own opinions. Obviously you don’t want to fall afoul of libel laws, but that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) say what you think.

Improve your writing skills speak your mind

Once you’ve started to discover your own “voice,” don’t be shy about sharing your opinions. This makes for more interesting reading. Don’t be contrarian for its own sake, and don’t set out to purposefully piss anyone off, but make sure there’s enough of you in your writing to make it a worthwhile read for your audience.

15. Do Your Research

Aside from plagiarizing someone else’s work, nothing will undermine your credibility faster than failing to do your homework.

In their eagerness to be done with a blog post (or even major newspaper article), many writers try to take shortcuts with the facts. This can range from accidentally fudging a statistic out of haste to being lazy when it comes to sourcing or attribution. Not only can this land you in big trouble with your editor/content marketing manager/other boss-type person, it also makes you look like an amateur.

Improve my writing skills do your research

Everybody makes mistakes, and you don’t need to spend weeks cross-referencing every last statistic (see the next tip), but common sense should prevail here – don’t rely exclusively on sites like Wikipedia, and use current, primary sources whenever possible.

16. Remember Done Is Better than Perfect

You should definitely take the time to write as well as you can, proofread and edit your work thoroughly, and ensure that your piece flows logically from one point to the next.

However, this doesn’t mean you should take weeks to write something.

No piece of writing will ever be perfect – you have to know when it’s time to let it go. This is especially important in content marketing, because you’ll rarely (if ever) have the luxury of crafting agonizingly beautiful blog posts full of poignant sentences and evocative imagery. As you become more confident, the “writing” part of writing will become easier and faster, but never lose sight of the fact that deadlines, or editorial calendars, are just as much your masters as any boss or manager.

As for me, I’m going to take my own advice and call this post done. I hope you find these tips useful, no matter how long you’ve been writing.

Summary: How to Improve Your Writing Skills

Meet The Author

Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.

See other posts by Dan Shewan

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Your Ultimate Guide to Writing Skills

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What Are Writing Skills?

Top writing skills, how to showcase writing skills, how to improve writing skills, related articles.

Writing skills are what make it possible for you to communicate a message with clarity and organization in a text format.

While it’s common to think that writing is a single skill, it can be broken down into component skills that make a good writer such as grammar, structure, messaging, tone and voice, word choice, research and reader engagement.

The importance of writing skills

We live in a text-heavy world and many businesses rely on the written word to communicate with their clients, customers, employees and business partners.

The style of writing that is most valued varies depending on the specific nature of the business you’re interested in working for. Different roles tend to require different kinds of writing skills.

For example, roles in editing require a focus on grammar, spelling and style, while roles in journalism require skills in research and accountability. Technical writing, on the other hand, requires the ability to explain complex processes in a simple way, and roles in marketing require attention-grabbing and persuasive language.

That said, employers often want to see your writing skills in action before they’ll hire you for a job.

For instance, while programmers might have to perform a coding test to get hired, the strength of many creative professionals such as writers, artists, filmmakers and others, is proven through their portfolio. A portfolio features a selection of work you’ve produced that shows employers you can handle the needs of the role.

You should include a portfolio with your resume and cover letter if you’re applying for a writing-centric job!

Namely, for roles in academia, advertising, copywriting, content creation, digital media, editing, email campaign management, journalism, marketing, screenwriting and public relations –– it’s in your best interest to include a portfolio!

However, if you know that the job might involve writing, but isn’t writing-focused, it is not necessary to include a portfolio. An administrative assistant position or a teaching position that mentions writing emails in the job description is a good example of roles that do not require one.

It’s important that you get your facts straight and consider all the angles before you write –– especially if it’s for academia, journalism, presentations or official company announcements. Good writers ensure the information they use is well-sourced and accurate. Being a valuable writing asset means reading closely, verifying your sources, having subject awareness and strong attention to detail!


Many companies rely on writers to create content that can persuade an audience by appealing to consumers or convincing investors. In these cases, your ability to craft a sales pitch that resonates and creates interest can be a powerful tool! Persuasiveness strategies like storytelling and emotional appeal are great to give your writing the power to influence.

Assuming brand voice

Many businesses need writers who can step into a role and create advertisements, content and promotions that are in line with the brand identity and tone. It takes strong attention to detail and creativity to say fresh things in someone else’s familiar voice.

Word choice

If composing a message with the right tone and sensitivity is your strong suit, it could pay to mention it to employers. Word choice can make a world of difference in fields like branding, community outreach, marketing, public relations, social justice and journalism.

Editing is the most important step to ensure your writing is polished and professional. Moreso, good editing skills help your writing flow and convey all the essential information with conciseness. Editing skills are valuable because high-quality content is produced when you adhere to best practice standards, usage and writing techniques.

Reading comprehension

At the core of every good writer is an avid reader who doesn’t miss a word and completely understands the underlying message. Reading comprehension is especially valuable for jobs that require you to explain large or complex topics in a simple way to readers, such as technical writing or journalism. The more you understand what you read, the easier you can explain it to others!

Time management

Writing is often compared to a journey because your goal is to get from the first sentence to the end. While every writer may have a different writing process, it should focus on effective time management. Time management shows that beyond the artistry of your craft, you have an understanding of business needs and the productivity to make it happen.

Meeting deadlines

Even if you’re the best wordsmith around, you must produce high-caliber work by deadline! You’ll be far more likely to get the job if you convince the employer that not only do you produce good work, but you do it on time


Storytelling is a popular method to capture and hold the attention of a reader by creating interest. Once a reader is caught up in a good story, they are far more likely to keep reading until the end! This can be a powerful tool in the world of marketing and advertising .


Organizing the information you need to relay in a bite-size and digestible way makes communication more effective. Well-organized writing will greatly increase the strength and impact of your message on your audience.

Outlining refers to your ability to plan and structure your message before you go through the process of writing it. Outlining skills can be useful because having a guide allows you to make adjustments as needed before time and resources are invested into producing a polished written product.

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Here’s some tips you should follow to sell your writing skills in your resume, cover letter, portfolio and interview!

In all four cases, it starts with these preparatory steps:

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The job description or post is the tool an employer uses to let you know what they want to see in the candidate they hire –– they tell you word-by-word what they want to see in your application documents!

Target the skills and keywords it mentions that seem the most important. After that, it’s much easier to know which skills you should address in your documents!

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Consider the types of writing the job would require you to do.

Who would be the audience? What style of writing are they looking for? What format do they want the writing done in, e.g., email, publication or web copy?

If you understand who the company needs to write for, what kind of content they need written and the style of writing they want –– it will help you decide what type of information you should feature from your background.

So, echo back phrases that you see in the listing if they apply to your background and skill set. This will show that you’re a close reader, an effective communicator, and best of all, help you pass the applicant tracking system (ATS).

Many companies, including most that post job ads online, use ATS to prescreen candidates.

The ATS scans your resume and cover letter looking for specific keywords or phrases programmed in by the hiring company. That means a human being might not even see your application documents unless they contain some of the right phrases or keywords!

Writing skills in your resume

There are three best places to feature writing skills in your resume.

The first is to have a dedicated “skills” section. List six to eight total skills, and make sure they’re a balance of hard and soft skills. This should be standard on most resumes.

The second option is to mention your writing skills as part of your work experience. For instance, instead of just listing “SEO Content Writing” as a skill, you could list it as a bullet point, like this: “Executed comprehensive SEO content writing practices to achieve page one search results.”


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160 Writing Skills for a Professional & Creative Resume [List]

160 Writing Skills for a Professional & Creative Resume [List]

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

As seen in:

You probably do realize that to get that dream job, you can’t just say “I’m good at writing”, or copy a basic list of writing skills from Google.

How do you get hired then? You list the exact skills the employer wants on your resume, then demonstrate them through achievements.

Not sure mind-reading is your forte? Then here’s the most useful writing skills guide this side of Malcolm Forbes.

This guide will show you:

Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you’ll get ready-made content to add with one click. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here .

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writing skills

Sample resume made with our builder— See more resume examples here .

Want to learn more about other job-winning skills? We've got you covered—check out our dedicated guides:

And here are some in-depth guides with resume samples for jobs that require strong writing & editing skills:

Review the Best Writing Skills for Your Resume

In a nutshell:

There isn’t just one skill for writing on the planet.

Which ones do you need?

Start with the list of 24 types of writing skills below.

Each is packed with skills for jobs for writers and non-writers alike.

To prove them—

Scroll below the writing skills list.

List of Writing Skills for Resumes

The skills above are hard skills , a.k.a. writing technical skills .

But professional writers need other qualities too.

Here’s a list of writing soft skills  for your resume:

Writing Soft Skills

How do you show writing skills on a resume to grab the interview?

That’s next.

Pro Tip: Don’t list all the writer skills in this guide on your resume. Unless you’re specifically after jobs for writers, just pick the one or two in the job ad.

Should you list soft or hard skills for writing? What about technical skills? See our guide: Soft Skills vs Hard Skills for a Job: What Employers Look For

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check . Start building a  professional resume template here for free .

Create the perfect resume

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

Show Writing Skills on a Resume With  Achievements

Wow. This applicant has what we need.

Your resume should get that response.

But there’s a trick to it.

How to Put Writing Skills on a Resume

First, tailor your resume by picking the writer skills shown in the job ad . Those are the ones the employer cares about.

Second, list your skills like this:

Skills: Business writing, emails writing, communication, etc...

Most important—

Prove them with achievements and numbers .

These writing skills examples show how:

Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

Which skills for writing did the job posting ask for? Those are the ones you need to prove.

Put them in your resume bullet points like this:

Job ad says:  Google Docs, SEO, WordPress

Your resume says:


You’ve listed the perfect skills in a way employers can believe.

Technical Writing Skills Examples

You’re so good you could write documentation for the Falcon 9. But you won’t land technical writing jobs if you don’t strut your stuff.

Sift through the technical writer job description for the right skills. Then show them like this:

Job ad says:  technical writing, product knowledge.


Basic Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

Just need to prove you can put pen to paper well enough to muddle through? You could take an English proficiency test and list the results on your resume.

But check the job ad for the basic writing skills this job wants. Then prove you till the bill:

Job ad says:  Revising, proofreading.

Business Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

Does that fat job want business writing skills? You’ll need to prove them, but first make sure you’re proving the right skills.

Read the job description, then plug achievements into your resume like this:

Job ad says:  Report writing, newsletter writing.

Wrote 50+ business reports , including monthly and annual reports, business intelligence reports, and project reports.

Professional Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

What’s the difference between business and professional writing skills? Not much.

Prove the skills that fit the job posting best, like this:

Job ad says:  MS Word, email writing.

College Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

Do you need to prove essential writing skills for college and beyond? Try to find the specific skills they want.

Then, list accomplishments that prove you’re up to speed.

College wants:  Essay writing skills, creative writing.

Looking for creative writing jobs? Just Google “creative writing jobs” + [location] or [remote]. Need more tips? See our Google job search guide.

Grant Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

Grant writing skills are vital to nonprofits and private companies. Have you got more proposal writer skills than the United Way?

Scan the job description for specific skills for grant writing. Then show when you used them to help in a big way.

Job ad says:  Grant writing, storytelling.

Emails Writing Skills Examples for Resumes

Everyone can write emails. But does your dream job need something extraordinary?

Check the job ad for the precise email writing skills the manager wants. Then show how you used them in past roles.

Job ad says:  Mail merges, business emails.

Need a synonym for writing skills?

Try written communication skills.

Up next, a list of writing tips to improve writing skills fast.

Pro Tip: Spelling and punctuation in a resume must be flawless. Nothing says, “I’m not a good writer” like sloppy resume writing—this is one of the worst resume mistakes .

Need more skills to write on a resume? See our guide: The Ultimate Professional Skill Set: 99 Key Skills for a Resume

How to Get Better at Writing

Here’s a bad dream:

What if the employer wants strong writing skills but—

You have a hard time writing See Jane run?

Don’t sweat it.

Here’s how to improve your writing:

How to Improve Writing Skills

Writing Tips:

If those writing tips don’t go far enough, consider taking classes.

These 12 writing classes can unleash your inner Stephen King:

Writing Skills Courses

Pro Tip: Don’t want to shell out for writing skills classes? Pay a visit to the University of YouTube. They’ve got tons of free writing lessons to improve your skill set quickly.

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here.  Here's what it may look like:

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Summary: Writing skills on resumes:

Have more questions about how to improve writing skills? Still not sure how to put skills for writing on a resume? Give us a shout in the comments! We’d be happy to reply.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW

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