Written Communication: Meaning, Characteristics, Advantages, Disadvantages, and Barriers

What is Written Communication?

Written communication is a form of communication in which words are either written by hand or printed. In written communication, a message could be delivered either by a letter, report, memo, email, SMS, etc. use of vocabulary and correct grammar is important for effective written communication.

What is Written Communication?
What is Written Communication?

Or you can say, Written communication is a form of communication that uses written or typed words, symbols, signs, diagrams, etc to share information.

Written communication is often asynchronous (occurring at different times). That is, the Sender can write a Message that the Receiver can read at any time, unlike a conversation that is carried on in real-time. Written communication can also be read by many people (such as all employees in a department or all customers).

Characteristics of Written Communication

The features/characteristics of written communication are discussed below:

Use of Written Word

It is a form of communication that makes use of printed or handwritten words. A message is conveyed to a receiver in the form of a written word which may be typed or simply written by hand.


Written communication is usually a formal way of communication that makes use of very formal and recognized language and vocabulary. It is mostly used in an organization.


Written communication is a very concise, short, and snappy way of communication. It conveys the required information to the intended receiver in a short manner.


Written communication is generally free from any kind of misinterpretation because it can overcome the barriers like noise etc.

Record for Future

A written message may always be used for future reference as it may be preserved for a long time. It is also an effective tool for amending the loopholes in working within an organization.

Use of Illustrations

Written communication may make things easy by making good use of charts, diagrams, sketches, signs, symbols, etc.

Advantages of Written Communication

The followings are the advantages of written communication:

Permanent Record

Written communication can be used for future reference as it may be preserved for a long time and can be retrieved for future reference when required. It has the feature of being stored and used whenever required. In an organization, there are many kinds of policy matters, service conditions, confidential orders, and other vital instructions which need to be conveyed.


If a message is conveyed to the target audience in a written form, it has a transparent penetration. It is both received and sent in a satisfactory manner. So that in the future necessary action may be taken if a subordinate fails to follow the instructions provided in a written piece of information.


A written message is the best form of communication when there is a long distance between a sender and receiver. It even overcomes the cost of making a telephone call to a receiver.

Size of Audience

Written communication is very effective when a message is supposed to be conveyed to a very large audience. It reaches effectively when a message is to be conveyed to a large number of people.

Accuracy and Correctness

Written messages can be conveyed in a more correct and accurate manner. Chances of miscommunication decrease to a large extent when one is communicating in a written form.

Disadvantages of Written Communication

The followings are the disadvantages of written communication:

Time Consuming

Written communication is a very time-consuming and intricate process. It consumes a lot of time in terms of both preparing and understanding a message.


Written communication is a slow process of communication. The message in writing is communicated after a certain process is completed. It is prepared, verified, and ordered by the concerned officer. Consequently, the message is delayed.


It is not a very cost-effective method of communication.


A written message has to be very formal and may give rise to disputes because of the excessive legalism involved in it. The written word may convey a different message as it is interpreted by every individual differently.

Lack of Secrecy

Another great disadvantage of written communication is that secrecy cannot be maintained because these messages can be read by anyone.

Elements of Written Communication

Elements of Written Communication:


The source of a message is the one who provides or sends the information. It may also be sometimes referred to as the sender of the message. The sender usually conceives the idea, prepares a message, selects the channel, and also chooses the appropriate receiver.


Message is the information that a sender has to transmit. Message is composed of signs, symbols, words, diagrams, illustrations, charts, figures, etc. in the above example of a college communication the office order which the principal has to convey is the message.


Channel is the medium through which the message travels from the receiver to the sender. The channel may be mass media, like TV, or radio or it may be interpersonal such as telephone or email, etc. in the above example of college communication the principal may convey the office order through a notice written on paper.


Receiver is the person for which the message is meant. It is a very important aspect of the whole process of communication. Because if a receiver neglects or misinterprets any part of the message then the whole process of communication may prove to be ineffective.


Feedback is the effect of the message on the receiver. It may be called the response of the receiver to the information provided to him/her.

Barriers to Written Communication

The barriers to written communication are listed below:

Physical Barriers

These are the barriers that obstruct the free flow of information by altering or preventing the message from being conveyed.

For example, one such barrier in written communication is a badly written or typed message. A not very fine handwriting and bad print may prevent the receiver from completely understanding the message.

Psychological Barriers

These barriers occur when the opinions, mindsets, values, traditions, etc of a receiver alter the meaning related to the message.

For example, any piece of information from the office would be interpreted by every receiver according to his/her mindset.

Technical barriers

A technical barrier is any kind of breakdown in the technology delivering the message. For example network problems while downloading a file on the internet are a technical barrier.

Subject Diversion

Sometimes the writers in written communication may also create some problems in understanding for the readers by mentioning useless stuff in it.

How to Overcome Barriers to Written Communication

Spelling rectification: One of the most important aspects is to check out the spelling of the words used and verify the grammar. Wrong spellings and wrong grammar can change the whole meaning of a written message.

Use simple language: A writer should always keep in mind the importance of simple language. It is always safe to use uncomplicated words to avoid misunderstandings.

Reviews and revisions: After the message is written, the writer should always take into account the concept of revising and reviewing the written matter.


What is Written Communication?

Written communication is a form of communication that uses written or typed words, symbols, signs, diagrams, etc to share information.

What are the features of Written communication?

Features of Written Communication:
1. Use of Written Word
2. Formal
3. Concise
4. Accurate
5. Record for Future
6. Use of Illustrations

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