Why Accounting Majors Need to Know How to Write

Professional Writing

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The life of an accountant usually involves looking at financial statements, like the Balance Sheet and Income Statement. However, they are also surrounded by a flurry of emails. They get emails throughout the day from their boss, coworkers, clients, and the miscellaneous people they surround themselves with. Some accountants even give important presentations to the board of directors, external auditors, and senior management. What do these things have in common? Well, they all require an understanding of words and how to communicate. 

When people talk of writing, the things that come to mind are the long papers they wrote in college, a creative writing project someone is undertaking, or cover letters they might have had to write when they applied for a job. Simple things they do every day may not come to mind, like their presentations and emails. While the content is extremely important, accountants should also do their due diligence in how they present the content.  


At the workplace, sending good emails is essential. A good email starts with a good subject line. Consider these two subjects. The first one says ‘Document Request” while the second one says “Urgent- Request for Duwady W-2 Form.” The difference in the amount of information shared is huge. The first subject tells the reader that there is a document being requested. The second subject tells the reader that they are requesting a specific document for a particular client and that this is a high-priority, most likely time-sensitive, request. This is very helpful. Even at just a glance, the reader has a clear idea of the purpose of the email. While this may be a simple change, it makes a big impact if someone gets dozens and dozens of emails every day. This helps them prioritize and decide which one to work on first. An email about a time sensitive document for a client is very different from an email from your coworker about your weekend. 


By the time people reach college, they have probably worked on countless presentations and slideshows for their classes. Everyone has some basic idea on how to approach it. You do some research, condense it to the important parts, add those to a slideshow, read it in front of the class, and you’re done! If you’re feeling fancy, you might add some transitions to it and sprinkle in some pictures. However, there is more to it than that. To have a great business presentation, you must be thoughtful about what you write and what you say.  As a presenter, you have to be knowledgeable about your subject area. This means knowing what you will say instead of just reading it off a slide. Instead of writing a wall of text, consider instead writing a few keywords to help you and the audience remember the important information. Also consider adding thoughtful visual aids and graphs. Instead of adding pictures to make it look pretty, add them with the purpose of supporting your main point. Each word written on the slide must have a purpose. 


Lastly, accountants also submit reports. A report is useless if it is not understandable. An accountant might be the expert in their field, but that means nothing if they are not able to write their thought process and findings concisely. This requires an understanding of the topic, the audience, and the purpose. Accountants need to be able to differentiate how much knowledge and detail the reader requires. For example, they might prepare a spectacular 20-page report, but the CEO only has time to read a page of the key takeaways without all the fluff and unnecessary information. In contrast, your direct manager might want the 20-page report instead to make sure everything is still going well. Before clicking send, make sure you know your audience and tailor it to their needs. 

Jyoti | 2022