Students of accounting often assume that how well they write is a matter of little importance. However, accountants and other finance professionals spend a large percentage of their time writing, and that percentage tends to increase as they climb the corporate ladder. The ability to clearly and succinctly communicate information in writing may therefore prove just as important as your financial acumen in determining your success, both at university and in your subsequent career.
Accounting and other finance professionals devote a considerable amount of their time to presenting financial information, summaries, analyses and projections in the form of written reports. No matter how well a financial analysis may be executed, its value will be seriously diminished if it is not summarised and communicated clearly and succinctly. For this reason, companies place considerable value on effective writing skills, and your university lecturers and tutors will expect you to acquire the skills of clear academic writing.
Always write with a specific audience in mind and tailor your document accordingly. On your degree as in the professional world, the style of writing you need to employ will be dictated by the kind of document you are required to produce. Always refer to exemplars of the relevant documents in order to familiarise yourself with the appropriate conventions and accepted formatting guidelines. When it comes to university essays, you should model your writing on that of articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals in the field.
The specific structure of your essay will depend upon the type of document you are writing, but all essays must have clear and concise introductory and concluding paragraphs. For maximal clarity of structure and presentation it is often a good idea to divide the body of your paper up into numbered sections and subsections. Each such section and subsection should also have a short and informative heading. Within each section and subsection the discussion must likewise be divided into paragraphs, with each paragraph devoted to a single well-defined point. Special care must be taken to ensure that your sentences and paragraphs follow one another in a logically coherent order and that appropriate transitional phrases and sentences are used.
Effective writing in accounting and finance is all about clarity, concision and accuracy. You should always make careful decisions about what needs to be included and what may be omitted. Use plain language to make your points and avoid wordiness. Never ramble or go off at tangents. Once a point has been made, move on to the next paragraph or section. Strive for economy of expression and remember that proper sentence construction, spelling, and punctuation are never dispensable.
Tables and figures (e.g. graphs and flowcharts) should always be used purposefully and presented to summarise key information as clearly as possible. Take care in deciding which information should be presented visually and never assume that he graphics speak for themselves. Direct your reader to the relevant information in the text and explain what each graphic shows.
Too many student papers end abruptly without providing a proper conclusion. Your concluding paragraphs should provide a succinct summary of the main points you have made in the body of the paper and may also indicate its broader implications. However, a conclusion is not the place to introduce new claims, evidence or arguments, which only evinces poor essay planning.
Always proof-read, revise and edit your work (or have somebody else do it for you) to ensure correct spelling, grammar and punctuation, and be sure to format and reference it in accordance with your department's preferred specifications. Upon carefully re-reading your paper you will also be able to strip away redundancies and find better ways to clarify certain points.
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