There is a joke about a story that a customer asks the contractor to build a chimney. Indeed, the contractor finished the work in no time, yet when the customer checked the work, he was astonished to find that the contractor actually built a well. In Chinese rural areas, since the foundation belongs to the residents, it is relatively easy to build a house as it only requires workers to purchase some materials and build the house little by little. Of course, the master is necessary for establishing the framework. The so-called master will divide the house into different spaces based on the demand of the owner, which includes the quantity of bedrooms and washrooms, the direction and size of the door, the quantity of floors, etc. But more often than not， there is no formal drawings. Instead, only a sketch drawing by pencils on a piece of white paper will be presented to owners, with some main construction dimensions marked. Ordinary houses are built in this way, and so are some villas. Therefore, some stupid mistakes will be made inevitably. The most common one among them may be the stairs in wrong direction: the owner hopes stairs that will spiral clockwise, yet the contractor made it counter-clockwise. I thought it will only take place in villages in China. Nevertheless, one of my German colleges told me that when his family built a house, they invited workers from different countries to take the job. (Due to the nature of work and wage level， a large majority of workers are from abroad, mainly eastern European) However, the stairs was built in the wrong direction as well. Maybe in German, workers are not used to make building drawings either. As someone decided to decorate his house by himself, he asked a decoration company which ranked top three locally to undertake this job. One week later, the owner received 30 pages of A2 drawings on which he was required to sign to authorize the official start of the agreement. Since these papers seem to be formal, the owner signed, and the worker started constructing the house. When construction came to the end, the owner looked back to these drawings, only to find that these drawings lacked the signature of designers, reviewers and approvers, as well as the tolerances for lines and squares. Fortunately, the quality of construction is not so bad. To think it over, this may be the supposed reason why dozens of people with decoration experience are not satisfied when checking the work, as these details are always ignored at the early stage. Despite that it is always concluded as selecting capable decoration workers is important, actually both the communication at the early stage and the experience of decoration workers are equally important. Same like in the manufacturing plants, it is not the workers that decide the quality of products totally. Designers, and engineers, however, are of the same significance.
与产品设计相似，如何清晰的表达在沟通中显得尤为重要。质量人员常用的工具是程序，文件，表格，公式，业务人员常用的是报价单，订单。见过报价单不写单位的，也亲身经历过购买单位写的不够清楚造成扯皮的。一付门合页，报价单位写1 set （一套），客户确认，下订单，走货，结果收到货就发现不对了，我要的是每包一对（1 pair），怎么变成了每包只有一只合页，数量整整少了一半。而且因为客户初期还觉得工厂的价格既然控制的这么有竞争力，那就多买一点吧。仅仅一个单词的差异，造成了一次重大投诉和纠纷。
Similar to product design, how to express clearly appears to be particularly important in communication. The common tools used by the quality personnel are procedures, documents, tables and formulas, while the ones that used by commercial personnel are quotations and orders. I have seen quotations without units, and have also experienced the wrangles caused by unclear purchase units. In one case, the unit on the quotation of one pair of door hinges was a set. After the customer confirmed it and made the order, it was shipped to customers. Unexpectedly, the customer found something wrong as soon as he received the product. He needed one pair per package, yet it turned out to have only one hinge placed in every pack—thus, it was only the half of the original order in terms of the quantity. Moreover, as the customer regarded the controlled price of the factory as so competitive, he bought more than ever. To sum up, only a difference in a word may give rise to a major complaint and dispute.
Most of the time, people use files and forms, besides mails or phones, to communicate with each other at work. But plenty of files and forms have the following point for attention other than the content:
- 没有页眉页脚no header and footer
The header is like the official document of the government, the big eyes and bushy eyebrows of a handsome man,, as well as the bright eyes and graceful eyebrows of a beauty, As for the company, if they have headers, it will be convenient for people to understand the company and the documents clearly at first glance. Also, since the headers help present the image and brand of the company, it will be great to place a conspicuous logo and missions and visions as well. All the cars have at least two logos placed at the front and the end, and if possible the components usually are branded with logos as well. Plenty of companies ask me frequently that, “how should we advocate and reinforce the quality policies?” In addition to displaying the policies outside the bulletin board, resorting to the headers and footers of various documents as a means of promotion is also a good choice.
The footer always comprises the compile date, or dynamic print date (it will automatically change into the date on which the document is printed), version number, and the page number of the file.
- 没有编制人，评审人，和批准人以及时间 no editor, reviewer and approver, as well as date
Readers fail to know whether the document has been approved or not, valid or not, and who finally approved it. Since no information on time is presented, the readers are not able to identify whether the document remains to be valid.
- 没有联系方式 no contact information
经常在网上看到一些非常好的文章，经过多次转发，最后“轶者不详”，有什么需要请教的也找不到作者了，甚是可惜。We always notice some good articles on the website which have been forwarded for many times. Unfortunately, they are always anonymous. It is such a pity that we are not able to find the writers even if we have something to consult.
- 版权意识淡却 no copy right reservation
作者写下长篇大论，可惜并没有预估到经由什么渠道什么方式会演变成什么形式的结果，可能是对作者有利的，也有可能会给作者带来困扰，还是建议在文件内注明清楚申明，至少可以将版权注明清楚 – 版权所有，禁止擅用。当然也强烈建议文件尽量转换为PDF格式后再用于交流，个人不建议文件动不动就设密码，其一可能自己也会忘记，其二破解文件密码早已不是什么难事了。
The writer has finished such a long article, yet he has not predicted that which form it will evolve into, via which channel, and in which way. Maybe it will be beneficial to writer, or in contrast, be troublesome. Therefore, it is advisable that the declaration be indicated clearly inside the file—at least, the copyright should be indicated clearly: All rights reserved. Of course, it is highly recommended that the document be converted into PDF and then be used for communication. Personally, I do not suggest setting up a password on the file. For one thing, the writer himself may forget it. For the other, cracking password is not a difficult task any more.
As the saying goes, people who master WORD usually earn more than those who have not; people who master EXCEL usually earn more than those who master WORD; people who master PPT earn more than those who master EXCEL; those who read PPT earn more than those who master PPT. Reasonable utilization of EXCEL requires different issues for attention compared with those of WORD documents. The most commonly seen problem is insufficient use of headers and footers. Moreover, sometimes the EXCEL is actually the adaption of another document so that people forgot to check the headers and footers of the original document. Thus, people do not find the problems until the document is printed. Also, the print area is not set up well in advance occasionally, which results in the disordered layout when readers print the document, and renders the writer unprofessional.Some other common issues like below:
- 没有编制人和审批人 no editor and approver
I am always wondering that whether it is necessary for Chinese to be so modest as to not put their signatures on the file, or maybe the excessive use of their own names will make the name unattractive.
- 金额没有单位 no currency for money
Excel 通常被用于显示财务数据，但是在被一些非财务人员使用的时候时常会被忽略金额的单位，到底是美金，还是欧元，还是人民币，还是港币？这个世界已经非常扁平了，金额单位非常重要。EXCEL is often applied to display the financial data, but some non-financial staffs will always ignore the units of the amount while using. Whether it is USD, EUR, CNY or HKD? As the world appears to be really flat, the unit of amount is of great significance.
- 数据没有年份或日期 no year or date for data
All the data referred should have date, at least a particular year. The sales volume can often be seen, but the year seems to be ignored. As a result, it will really be confusing whether the data belongs to last year, the present, or a specific month, let alone the number is for purchase value, invoice value or delivery value.
- 文件没有版本或变更史 no version or change log
If the last revision date or version is not displayed, even the god cannot identify which one is the latest one, and what has been changed between the two versions.
People who have a good command of EXCEL will inevitably use the charts often as it’s visual and explicit. However, people who use it always ignore some details, which seem to be the difference between “can use EXCEL” and “can use EXCEL well”. To learn EXCEL well, one should read brilliant business magazines often. Suppose that a chart will be shown to 10 people. For a good chart, it only took one minute per person to understand, so totally 10 minutes were spent for reading. Besides, the writers spent 10 minutes on the edit, so in grand total, 20 minutes were spent on this chart. In contrast, a bad chart was done within one minute, but the same 10 people spent 5 minutes understanding the chart, so totally 51 minutes were spent. Which chart is more valuable? Needless to say, the answer seems to be quite obvious.
- 没有图表抬头 no tittle
A chart without titles is like a face without eyes, as you cannot even recognize who it is. On the contrary, the chart with attractive titles is as much as a pair of bright eyes. If a subtitle is added, it is none other than matching the eyes with a pair of gold-rimmed glasses to make it much gentle.
- X-Y轴没有单位 no unit on X/Y axis
I had been criticized quite often in earlier years over these errors. Despite I am cautious, I still make some stupid mistakes of this kind carelessly so that the leader will ask me the number on the axis without units represents the amount of money or quantity. People engaging in engineering are quite clear that even the screws can be categorized into metric ones and imperial ones. Without the units, one can imagine the outcome
- 主副轴没有区分 no marking of primary and secondary axis
Advanced professionals will place the Y axis on both the left and right side of the chart. But one should be much careful that if the units on the main and auxiliary axis are different, he should mark the units and data clearly on both sides instead of confusing them.
- 格式和线条没有调整 no re-formatting after auto-creation
If you hope that others can understand your chart, the points above are enough. But if you hope others can love reading your chart, you have to adjust the chart created by default setting of EXCEL. Although EXCEL is humanized enough, the automatically-formed chart in 2010 versions is not awkward any more, but this is the difference between eatable, delicious and favorite.
Working for the enterprise is different from working under the government. The expression in business should be as accurate as possible most of the time so that it will not generate confusion, which is distinct from the international policies of a country that usually play words. This is also the reason why many people will try to “interpret” messages after publish of significant political and economic policies. Even if the interpretation is wrong, it is not the author that to be blamed. However, if he is to express to others in an enterprise, then he should quite careful.
ACKNOWLEDGE GIVEN TO TRANSLATOR MS. ZIZHU WANG FROM GUANGDONG UNIVERSITY OF FOREIGN STUDIES