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how to write a business article

How to Write a Business Article for Beginners

  • LifeLinguist
  • June 17, 2020

For someone whose core job is anything but writing, getting the directive to write a business article can be pretty daunting. After all, putting your knowledge down in words is nowhere near as easy as just talking about it. In fact, I’d argue that developing a business training module is much easier compared to writing an article down about it, especially if writing is not your forte – which it shouldn’t be, if you’re not a writer.

As a copywriter who has written a wide range of articles for companies, start-ups and NGOs, I understand the struggle faced by companies who want to capture important competitive edges in their areas of expertise into impactful articles. I also appreciate the effort it takes to even write one of those articles. Now I’m not going all fancy with my definition here, so when I say business articles, I mean any kind of article meant for a corporate audience – even ones to be read leisurely.

So if you’re a content expert who wants to put your knowledge down into words, then read on, and I’ll guide you through a very simple process to have your article written down in no time!

Scope, scope, scope

Like it or not, your article needs to have a scope, and the only way you can determine your scope is if you brainstorm the contents first. Brainstorming is not a long or involved process. It’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. The basic idea is that you want to know the area of focus that you want to write about. If possible, try to only have one area of focus.

For example, this article is about how to write business articles. I’m not writing about how to structure sentences or how to create a crafty opening in an article. That is beyond the scope of this article. So if you feel like your area is too broad, try to narrow it down – otherwise, broaden the topic. Whatever it is, make sure that there is only one central idea that you are focusing on.

Start business. Write!

“Seriously? Start writing?”

“But I don’t know how to start!”

I don’t care. Just start.

“I don’t know how to begin!”

Look. I’ll say it now. Usually, when I write a business article, especially narrative articles, the first paragraph I write always end up somewhere in the conclusion. When you write articles, acknowledge that you will go back to edit it. You will. If you won’t, someone (the gatekeeper, maybe), probably will. So the idea is to just write first. Don’t even look at what you’re writing. Put your thoughts down and keep going until it’s done.

Once you’re done putting down all your thoughts, then you can go to the introduction. Leave introduction to last. The introduction only makes sense if you know what will come after it, so work on the body first and then go to the introduction. You can’t expect to suddenly come up with an impactful beginning if you don’t know what the article ultimately is going to be about.

Develop Your “Voice”

What makes a business article “corporate” is usually the language and “voice” that it’s written in. The good news is that if you’ve always worked at the business sector, then you probably already have been using the business “voice” in your work setting. You won’t use, say, a Twitter voice as your business voice. You use a business voice for when you write a business article.

Let me demonstrate with two sentences.

Socmed voice : “Smart people can be pretty annoying to be with. Sometimes, they just don’t get normal jokes and once you explain, the jokes are just, lost.”

Business voice : “There are constant laments when one deals with intellectuals at times. Jokes, for example, often go unnoticed, and the burden falls on the teller to explain his words… which defeats the purpose of it being a joke.”

Of course, I’m exaggerating my voice here, but you get the idea. People sometimes refer to voice as style, but I prefer to use “voice” because it resonates with us more. We don’t consciously use different styles when writing articles or posting on social media, but we do use different voices.

The reason why I put voice as the third step is because once you have your article written, then you can figure out whether the article has been written in the suitable voice or not. If not, it’s only a matter of changing your style, which is easier to do now that you have your content written.

Cut, Add, Edit

A golden myth about editing is to always cut 10% to 20% of what is originally written, but this is of course more of a guide than a hard and fast rule. The basic idea behind cutting down words is to simplify and make your writing concise but effective – this is especially true when writing business articles. Now you’re probably asking why. All those words you’ve written, why cut anything at all?

We’re not interested in the why, but rather the what. What should you cut?

Adverbs, for one, is a huge one. I mean, 80% of the time, you can remove adverbs and replace your verbs with more effective ones to create impact. You don’t need most adverbs. Cut them.

Next are adjectives . If you are using any kind of adjective, my rule of thumb is to always have three main ones and no more.

Finally are intensifiers . Things like very and extremely and much more can all be cut by replacing your verbs with more descriptive ones.

Of course, there are definitely more cuts that you can do, but stick to these first until you’re ready to explore more types of editor cuts.

Read aloud and finalise your article

Yes, you heard me. Read your article aloud . I like to wait a day or two to “forget” the article before re-reading it (ideally, I’d wait two weeks). Reading aloud is important. I always read aloud in the final edit because it just helps me hear what the words would sound like in my readers’ heads.

What’s helpful to know is that your article will never be perfect, and given the chance, you’d probably want to edit it forever. You don’t have this luxury though. Remember – what’s important is content, and as long as you have a readable piece, and your content is clear, then that’s good enough.

Now that you’re done, you can go ahead and write a new article! Or, better yet, let’s get you started on writing your first book instead!

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Expert Commentary

How to write better business stories

Six tips for writing more compelling business stories

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License .

by Chris Roush, The Journalist's Resource August 22, 2011

This <a target="_blank" href="https://journalistsresource.org/home/writin-better-business-stories/">article</a> first appeared on <a target="_blank" href="https://journalistsresource.org">The Journalist's Resource</a> and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.<img src="https://journalistsresource.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cropped-jr-favicon-150x150.png" style="width:1em;height:1em;margin-left:10px;">

Many people don’t read business news, and for good reason. There’s nothing more boring than a story that uses a bunch of numbers in the lead without explaining what’s actually going on. But business news writing doesn’t have to be boring, or laden with numbers.

Like any other news article, the best business journalism tells a good story and entices the reader with a compelling lead. The best business journalists may use numbers in their leads, but they primarily use words to explain what’s going on. They write a story, not a balance sheet. The numbers are only there to support the thesis of the writing.

Here’s my advice to anyone writing business and economics story leads and wanting to make their prose sing:

  • Avoid an overabundance of numbers in one sentence or paragraph . My limit is usually two, but I sometimes will use three if they are simple concepts to understand. And avoid numbers in the lead. Instead, explain what’s happening with the company, or unemployment, in the lead, and then use the numbers in the second paragraph to back up what you wrote.
  • Use short sentences . No more than 35 words should be used in the lead of a business story. When I wrote about the embarrassing typo printed on two million 12-packs of Coca-Cola right before the 1996 Summer Olympics, the lead was, “What a difference one letter makes.” That’s only six words, but it got the point across.
  • Always lead with the “what,” be it a company, executive or product . That strategy forces you to write your lead using an active verb, and results in a direct sentence for the reader to understand. It also lets the reader know up front who or what the story is about.
  • Never put the time element before the verb in the lead . The verb tells the reader what the action is, and that’s what the reader wants. If you tell them when the action happened before the action has taken place in the sentence, then you just confuse them.
  • Avoid using names in the lead unless the person is well known . For example, this works best for the Atlanta media: “Doug Ivester, the chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Co., resigned Sunday amid disagreements with the board about the future direction of the company.” For everyone else, go with something shorter: “Coca-Cola Co.’s CEO resigned Sunday amid disagreements about the future direction of the company.”
  • Don’t use “funky” punctuation . You’re already asking a reader or listener to pay attention to something that may be foreign. A semi-colon, parentheses or a colon might just confuse them enough to make them stop reading and find something else to read. For example, don’t write this: “The CFO of a Fayetteville mining company resigned his job Tuesday; the company did not name a replacement.” Instead, go with this: “The CFO of a Fayetteville mining company resigned Tuesday amid allegations of inflated earnings.”

You can be the greatest business reporter of all time and find all kinds of amazing facts about companies or the economy. But unless you know how to put those facts together in a compelling series of words and sentences, your work will have gone to waste.

Chris Roush is the Walter E. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Scholar in business journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill. He can be reached at [email protected] .

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Writing articles for your business: Do's and Don'ts

Writing articles for your business: Do's and Don'ts

Business writing etiquette establishes your business expertise in the market, which is essential for your business’ success. In today’s content market, quality and quantity are crucial for leveraging content for business results.

No matter how good your services or products are, sloppy, bloated, or confusing business articles will negatively impact your brand impression, and you will lose customers. Below are some content writing dos and don’ts to help you make business articles easy for your company.

First, let’s explore business article writing.

What is Business Article Writing?

The term “business article” refers to any article that contains information about your business, directly or indirectly. Business writing includes blogs, news releases, newsletters, brochures, flyers, emailers, and presentations.

Business writing styles vary depending on the type of content you are writing. For example, the pitch for an email is more concise than a blog’s. Similarly, a flier must convey an idea quickly, while a brochure can be more descriptive.

The Do’s for Writing Business Articles

The more quality articles you create and share, your business branding presence will stand out. You also establish thought leadership in your industry by adhering to proper writing etiquette. Here there are the following:

What Sort of Audience Do You Aim to Reach?

Understand who you are writing for and what the client wants

Are you targeting businesses or individuals because the audience will determine the approach for your business article writing? For example, if your business targets individual buyers, you’ll use a more conversational and personal writing style. In addition, you might throw in some humor, depending on your industry.

In contrast, a business-to-business (B2B) client may require an article that showcases the firm’s expertise and is informative. Business articles don’t need to sound like an extract from a management book. Make your content easy to read and communicate the benefit the reader will gain from reading it for ten minutes.

Make Your Topic Timely, Relevant, and Engaging

8 out of 10 people read the headline only

Topic selection is crucial to the success of your business article. The best marketing plan in the world won’t sell anything if your market and target audience aren’t interested in your topic. The article may be beautifully written and researched, but no one will be interested in reading about 16th-century bookbinding, even if Google shows over a million results.

Your readers will lose interest in your message if you don’t capture their attention immediately. 8 out of 10 people read the headline only, and if they lose interest, they move on.

It is essential to choose writing topics that are timely, relevant, and engaging, and these are different things:

  • Timely : for an article to be timely, it must be newsworthy and relevant to the current conversation.
  • Relevant : Relevance means that your audience will benefit from a topic. If your audience specializes in 16th-century bookbinding, avoid writing about plumbing because it won’t be read or shared.
  • Engaging : make your article interesting. Add new information to a topic or take a unique position to make it more interesting. Don’t rehash the same old things.

Keep a Professional Attitude

You give your clients total confidence when you do meticulous research, validate, and write for them. One of the critical dos and don’ts of formal writing is to make a wrong assumption. When your articles contain false information or errors, even your most well-intentioned clients will lose trust in you.

Whenever possible, check all details before publishing any business article. Be sure to thoroughly research any article marketing product’s requirements, cost structure, etc., before writing about them.

Each step in writing an article is designed to increase reader engagement and relevance, and each step requires writing etiquette.

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

So many aspects of life can be summed up with that mantra. Whenever you write a business article, keep it simple and make your business article scannable and skimmable because you attract more readers if your content is simple and easy to read.

Simple sentences, straightforward wording, and one idea per sentence are characteristics of easy-to-read writing. Don’t expect your readers to read your article word-for-word. They only scan it for the information they are looking for.

A good strategy is to place the essential information in the first paragraph. In most cases, your readers will only read halfway through the article before moving on. The goal of writing business articles that sell is to provide readers with the information they need to solve a problem.

Identify a Problem and Offer a Solution

How does Google benefit you? You always find an answer to your question or solve a problem. Besides cute baby videos, the Internet has solutions and answers for all kinds of problems. Consider the problems that your readers face when you create business content.

Are there any ways you can help your readers?

Readers are more likely to share content that solves their problems, purchase your products, and become loyal customers if your content solves their problems.

Make it Easy to Share

You won’t sell your business article if it isn’t shareable. Recent trends favor presenting readers with “sound bites”—short quotes that summarize the article’s main points with a “Tweet this” link. Once readers click the button, a link to the article is tweeted with the quotation.

Make sharing easy, and people will do it more often. Nowadays, most business blogs include social media buttons that allow readers to share content easily with their networks. Besides, online experts establish their credibility this way.

To grow your influence online, you must get people to read, share, and act on your advice. That’s why the headline, opening, and closing are critical

– Henneke Duistermaat

Keep Graphics and Media Files to a Minimum

Graphics help explain your article’s point more clearly. But most marketers recommend not overdoing them. Don’t use complex graphics in whatever you are presenting. For an article or a section that explains, include some infographics.

Otherwise, your blog/website is more attractive to readers if you include media-friendly templates and images (these elements will attract readers to your articles or products).

Be Sure to Proofread Your Writing

  Editing and proofreading your business content is fine-tuning the writing dos and don’ts. Readers will notice the difference in quality and appeal. The best time to do this is after you’ve written your business article because you’ll eliminate any errors that may have made their way through at the draft stage.

Check your content for grammar and sentence formation. Furthermore, most content marketing experts emphasize the importance of tone and clear, accurate writing with minimal fluff and spelling errors.

Make Your Business Articles SEO-Friendly

Finally, the purpose of SEO is to help readers find the articles and information they’re looking for when they search on Google. It doesn’t matter how well-optimized your article is; if no one is interested in the topic, your article won’t sell.

It is often forgotten that SEO is not just about algorithms but also people reading these articles. Be sure to follow good writing etiquette rules and avoid keyword stuffing . Your article will rank higher on Google searches if it generates more interest, shares, and comments.

These are SEO rules and part of business content writing dos and don’ts.

The Don’ts of Business Writing Etiquette

Business articles are helpful depending on the industry. Your brand can be more successful if you provide valuable and insightful content to your audience. As a result, you can turn your readers into paying customers by building audience loyalty and satisfaction. To ensure that your business writing etiquette rules are followed, let’s examine what you don’t do.

Don’t Plagiarize

It’s a no-no to plagiarize. Search engines can penalize your website if you publish directly copied content. It is not limited to text alone but also images. You can create unique content by drawing inspiration from other articles and combining it with your opinions.

Cite the source if you must copy and check your posts for plagiarism online with tools such as scribbr and copyscape . To be on the safe side, use them before publishing.

Include at least one or two referenced quotes within the article and always give credit where credit is due.

Avoid Writing Thin Content

Generally, writers suggest avoiding thin content, depending on the industry or your needs. A 500-word blog once is not enough to establish authority or strength in your field. Yet, you should avoid writing anything that may be misinterpreted or confusing to your readers. Your readers should find the long content valuable and informative.

A shareable article doesn’t have to be a particular length. When your content is easy to scan and adds value to your reader, sharing is more likely. Among top-performing Google articles, 1,149 words were the average word count.

Don’t Use Complicated Words

Easy-to-read and easy-to-understand content is always the best. Remember that your readers come from diverse backgrounds. You lose readers by using over-the-top vocabulary and jargon in your content.

Also, complicated content is not SEO-friendly and not part of business writing etiquette. Make sure your paragraphs are short, your language is simple, and you include images whenever you can.

Make Sure Your Conclusion Isn’t Ineffective

Lastly, focus on your article’s conclusion. Your conclusion summarizes all the points you have discussed in your article. In your conclusion, you should provide an opportunity for your readers to respond to your message–a call to action (CTA). A compelling call to action encourages potential consumers to respond to your message immediately.

Write Engaging Business Articles

You can engage and influence your audience with business writing etiquette, whether you’re a leader promoting an idea, a public speaker seeking to make a lasting impression on your listeners, or a business owner or content marketer promoting your company. Boost your agenda by using stories that advance your goals and objectives.

A key to successful business writing is developing stories that capture people’s attention, touch their hearts, and motivate them to act. Your business articles are a strategic tool of persuasion and influence and show off the power of your brand.

The Sonary team is dedicated to helping individuals, businesses, and organizations make the right decision regarding your business efforts and processes. Our team comprises of expert marketers, content writers, users experience experts, leading developers, biz dev professionals, and fantastic product managers who strive to provide you with the most relevant and high-quality solutions for your business.

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5 Major Steps to Writing a Business Article

Business writing is a type of writing that aims to produce any professionally written material that is often direct and clear and encourages response or action from the target audience. As a blogger, making business articles are challenging for you, and aim to make catchy articles with the right pitch and balance for the people reading your respective content.  

Business writing is commonly used in a professional context, business writers must be able to communicate well and not cause confusion. 

According to a survey by Josh Bernoof in 2016, 81% of businesspeople believe that poorly written business materials waste a huge amount of time. This is why it is imperative that aspiring business writers must be able to adopt a writing style that produces straightforward and compelling business articles. 

What Is a Business Article?

A business article is any material that shares details about an organization whether in the form of blogs, reports, posters, and presentations. Information from business articles shared via different types of media is purposeful. 

The importance of writing business articles is for you to: (1) be research-driven; (2) propose effective solutions that professionals are seeking with common problems happening within their scope, and; (3) to have a wider reach in the market by using this to increase brand awareness. Writing business articles may be challenging, but this gives you a wide opportunity for people to be aware of the vision that your company represents toward the market. The three basic purposes of business articles are to share information, make requests or convince, and transact or build business relationships. Consequently, writing business articles play a huge role in letting different companies get aware of the products and services offered by the company. 

For business writers, whether amateur or expert,  here are the 5 major steps to take in order to write a great business article that serves its purpose really well. 

Setting the Specific Objectives

As the famous adage says, “Begin with the end of mind”. Business writers cannot set the targets properly if objectives are not specific and feasible; thus, when setting objectives in writing a business article, make sure that it must be SMART, or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bounded. When setting specific objectives, consider these questions:

1. Who Is the Target Audience?

Setting the target audience gives you a focal point in what written articles do you intend to write. In writing business articles, you cannot successfully make a business article without setting the proper context, and when setting this you need to lay down the target audience. You can do this by listing down some groups of people that might get affected once the articles have already passed the ideation phase, after this, you can make use of statistics to further address some concerns in a particular article. 

People affect the way you write depending on their culture and way of living. For example, when targeting individual teenagers, they prefer a writing style that is more conversational and humorous according to their context.

Who are you targeting? Are you targeting readers in the B2C or B2B industry? Are you targeting prospective customers or clients? What is the demographic data of your audience?

Writing a business article doesn’t mean that you show all the theories and principles written in books or research journals. To catch the attention of your audience, you need to know what ticks them off or what appeals to them. To say it simply, you need to know your audience. Make sure to establish comprehensive and proper communication that will benefit and encourage the readers to take a certain course of action favorable to your business.

2. What Positioning Strategies Are You Going to Employ?

Your target audience may read your business articles; however, the biggest concern is how the target audience will position the statements you have posited on their respective minds. After setting the context, it is important to place the context in a careful place. With this, utilizing positioning strategies is useful in making sure that the target market gets to easily retain the business articles you have written and introduced to them. 

80% of the positioning strategies in blogging gives a huge impact on increasing the traffic in a particular website. To do such in your particular business article, make sure that you integrate it with real-life happenings, trending issues, and people’s typical way of living effectively catches the attention of your target audience. In addition, making unique statements and remarkable keywords is a plus point.

3. What Platform Are You Going to Use?    

Setting the target market and positioning strategies would become more effective if you organize the people and the strategies together in just one platform. It is best to know which platforms you will use for posting or distributing your business articles so you can plan accordingly. 

If you want to post your articles in newspapers to target people in the middle adulthood stage, then you can adapt your choice of words and writing style to fit newspapers. If you want to make use of blogs to post your articles and encourage more readers, then consider the best SEO practices. This should be a lucrative choice considering that businesses with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don’t have blogs. 

In conclusion, there are so many platforms that you can use to post your business articles.  In fact, 80% of internet users interact with both social media sites and blogs (DemandMetric). The overall target here is to adjust your content to your choice of platform.

Researching Relevant Information

When you start studying the blog topic , think about the two to three key points that your article needs to include. These concepts would then become the starting point for search engine analysis. When researching for relevant information, make sure that you search for the best niches that fit best for your particular blog. 

Google (or other search engines) will throw up recommendations for other related search terms when you browse through the relevant articles

While researching the information available online, the recommendations are as follows:

  •     Keep abreast of the changes: Using the sense of recency, make sure that articles you will use as your reference must not be later than three years ago. Since knowledge revolutions and technological advances are evolving rapidly, you must make use of pieces of knowledge that are relevant.
  •     Use reliable sources: With the Internet as the “information gateway”, a single click and single type in the keyboard displays numerous pieces of information, regardless of its accuracy. Learn how to evaluate websites and determine pieces of information that are reliable and accurate.
  •     Give credits to where it is due: Include at least one or two links whenever a piece of information is conveyed to your article.
  •     Include data: The use of infographics, charts, surveys, and recent data will effectively strengthen your article.
  •     Include a quote: For effective positioning to readers, adding an authentic and remarkable quote that is relevant and timely is a plus point to your business article.

If you want to make use of blogging, you can seek advice from popular bloggers, or reach out to internet marketing specialists for a contribution to your article.

Organizing the Key Points

Make an article skeleton. Write an effective outline by making an opening, subheadings, bullet points under subheadings, and takeaways from your article, as well as the information that needs to come under each section

You may decide to write 150 words for the opening of the post, 800 words for the main body, and another 100 for writing the conclusion. Of course, it is best to compose the first draft of around 1200 to 1300 words, so the word count will naturally be decreased as you refine the material during the editing stage.

Actual Writing

As a writer, this phase serves as the most exciting phase, as everything is already laid down carefully and you get to concretize the things you have already laid down. This phase is indeed crucial for the things you have organized prior to the writing phase. 

As a golden rule, always remember to write as you think. Get to be friends with your mind as this plays a huge role in the writing phase. Remember to be as dynamic as you can but keep referencing the base document to see the sub-points and the information you want under each point. You can play words, but always make sure that you pitch the attention of the readers by making use of relevant and accurate pieces of information.

There may be many drafts in your article, it is always important that you aim for effective positioning to readers and comprehensive dissemination of information.

In the actual writing phase, make sure to do these things:

  • Write a convincing opening paragraph. Making an engaging opening paragraph attracts the attention of the readers. If you start an engaging statement, everything follows the opening statement. It is important to set the attention of the readers.
  • Include keywords: Using remarkable keywords retains the attention of the readers. Also, this effectively lets the readers know your aim for them.
  • Urge your readers to take action. You may conclude your article with a compelling call to action and urge them to respond by leaving a comment or asking questions. This tells you more about their thoughts upon reading your content. 
  • Write in the active voice: Minimize the use of sentences in the passive voice. Using sentences in active voice promotes reading engagement to learners

Reviewing and Editing

Make sure to undergo a polishing phase prior to deploying a certain business article. To prevent further errors in the business article you are going to post, make sure that you undergo several steps where you get to review and edit your respective business article. 

Editing enhances quality in producing a business article. Take a time to review some typographical and grammatical errors. Many technological tools are available to correct your errors committed in the article. After doing such, read your business article aloud and encourage your friend or any family to listen to your article. To be honest, this phase might be one of the harshest phases because you get to undergo multiple reviews and edits to a certain business article; however, this phase makes your business article better to deploy in a certain company website. 

If you’re already satisfied with your article, cross-check the effectiveness of the article header using tools such as Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer.  After such, do some plagiarism checking to make your article authentic.

There you have it! Here are some of the tips that you can carry in making business articles. 

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17 Tips to Take Your ChatGPT Prompts to the Next Level

5 blue balls riding on 5 randomly arranged curved black tubes against a bright green backdrop

ChatGPT, Google Gemini, and other tools like them are making artificial intelligence available to the masses. We can now get all sorts of responses back on almost any topic imaginable. These chatbots can compose sonnets, write code, get philosophical, and automate tasks.

However, while you can just type anything you like into ChatGPT and get it to understand you. There are ways of getting more interesting and useful results out of the bot. This "prompt engineering" is becoming a specialized skill of its own.

Sometimes all it takes is the addition of a few more words or an extra line of instruction and you can get ChatGPT responses that are a level above what everyone else is seeing—and we've included several examples below.

While there's lots you can do with the free version of ChatGPT, a few of these prompts require a paid ChatGPT Plus subscription —where that's the case, we've noted it in the tip.

ChatGPT can give you responses in the form of a table if you ask. This is particularly helpful for getting information or creative ideas. For example, you could tabulate meal ideas and ingredients, or game ideas and equipment, or the days of the week and how they're said in a few different languages.

Using follow-up prompts and natural language, you can have ChatGPT make changes to the tables it has drawn and even produce the tables in a standard format that can be understood by another program (such as Microsoft Excel).

If you provide ChatGPT with a typed list of information, it can respond in a variety of ways. Maybe you want it to create anagrams from a list of names, or sort a list of products into alphabetical order, or turn all the items in a list into upper case. If needed, you can then click the copy icon (the small clipboard) at the end of an answer to have the processed text sent to the system clipboard.

Screenshot of ChatGPT

Get ChatGPT to respond as your favorite author.

With some careful prompting, you can get ChatGPT out of its rather dull, matter-of-fact, default tone and into something much more interesting—such as the style of your favorite author, perhaps.

You could go for the searing simplicity of an Ernest Hemingway or Raymond Carver story, the lyrical rhythm of a Shakespearean play, or the density of a Dickens novel. The resulting prose won't come close to the genius of the actual authors themselves, but it's another way of getting more creative with the output you generate.

ChatGPT can really impress when it's given restrictions to work within, so don't be shy when it comes to telling the bot to limit its responses to a certain number of words or a certain number of paragraphs.

It could be everything from condensing the information in four paragraphs down into one, or even asking for answers with words of seven characters or fewer (just to keep it simple). If ChatGPT doesn't follow your responses properly, you can correct it, and it'll try again.

Another way of tweaking the way ChatGPT responds is to tell it who the intended audience is for its output. You might have seen WIRED's videos in which complex subjects are explained to people with different levels of understanding. This works in a similar way.

For example, you can tell ChatGPT that you are speaking to a bunch of 10-year-olds or to an audience of business entrepreneurs and it will respond accordingly. It works well for generating multiple outputs along the same theme.

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Tell ChatGPT the audience it's writing for.

ChatGPT is a very capable prompt engineer itself. If you ask it to come up with creative and effective inputs for artificial intelligence engines such as Dall-E and Midjourney , you'll get text you can then input into other AI tools you're playing around with. You're even able to ask for tips with prompts for ChatGPT itself.

When it comes to generating prompts, the more detailed and specific you are about what you're looking for the better: You can get the chatbot to extend and add more detail to your sentences, you can get it to role-play as a prompt generator for a specific AI tool, and you can tell it to refine its answers as you add more and more information.

While ChatGPT is based around text, you can get it to produce pictures of a sort by asking for ASCII art. That's the art made up of characters and symbols rather than colors. The results won't win you any prizes, but it's pretty fun to play around with.

The usual ChatGPT rules apply, in that the more specific you are in your prompt the better, and you can get the bot to add new elements and take elements away as you go. Remember the limitations of the ASCII art format though—this isn't a full-blown image editor.

Screenshot of ChatGPT

A ChatGPT Plus subscription comes with image generation.

If you use ChatGPT Plus , it's got the DALL-E image generator right inside it, so you can ask for any kind of photo, drawing, or illustration you like. As with text, try to be as explicit as possible about what it is you want to see, and how it's shown; do you want something that looks like a watercolor painting, or like it was taken by a DSLR camera? You can have some real fun with this: Put Columbo in a cyberpunk setting, or see how Jurassic Park would look in the Victorian era. The possibilities are almost endless.

You don't have to do all the typing yourself when it comes to ChatGPT. Copy and paste is your friend, and there's no problem with pasting in text from other sources. While the input limit tops out at around 4,000 words, you can easily split the text you're sending the bot into several sections and get it to remember what you've previously sent.

Perhaps one of the best ways of using this approach is to get ChatGPT to simplify text that you don't understand—the explanation of a difficult scientific concept, for instance. You can also get it to translate text into different languages, write it in a more engaging or fluid style, and so on.

If you want to go exploring, ask ChatGPT to create a text-based choose-your-own adventure game. You can specify the theme and the setting of the adventure, as well as any other ground rules to put in place. When we tried this out, we found ourselves wandering through a spooky castle, with something sinister apparently hiding in the shadows.

Screenshot of ChatGPT

ChatGPT is able to create text-based games for you to play.

Another way to improve the responses you get from ChatGPT is to give it some data to work with before you ask your question. For instance, you could give it a list of book summaries together with their genre, then ask it to apply the correct genre label to a new summary. Another option would be to tell ChatGPT about activities you enjoy and then get a new suggestion.

There's no magic combination of words you have to use here. Just use natural language as always, and ChatGPT will understand what you're getting at. Specify that you're providing examples at the start of your prompt, then tell the bot that you want a response with those examples in mind.

You can ask ChatGPT for feedback on any of your own writing, from the emails you're sending to friends, to the short story you're submitting to a competition, to the prompts you're typing into the AI bot. Ask for pointers on spelling, grammar, tone, readability, or anything else you want to scrutinize.

ChatGPT cleared the above paragraph as being clear and effective, but said it could use a call to action at the end. Try this prompt today!

Screenshot of ChatGPT

Get ChatGPT to give you feedback on your own writing.

In the same way that ChatGPT can mimic the style of certain authors that it knows about, it can also play a role: a frustrated salesman, an excitable teenager (you'll most likely get a lot of emoji and abbreviations back), or the iconic western film star John Wayne.

There are countless roles you can play around with. These prompts might not score highly in terms of practical applications, but they're definitely a useful insight into the potential of these AI chatbots.

You can type queries into ChatGPT that you might otherwise type into Google, looking for answers: Think "how much should I budget for a day of sightseeing in London?" or "what are the best ways to prepare for a job interview?" for example. Almost anything will get a response of some sort—though as always, don't take AI responses as being 100 percent accurate 100 percent of the time.

If you're using the paid ChatGPT Plus tool, it will actually search the web (with Bing) and provide link references for the answers it gives. If you're using the free version of ChatGPT, it'll mine the data its been trained on for answers, so they might be a little out of date or less reliable.

Your answers can be seriously improved if you give ChatGPT some ingredients to work with before asking for a response. They could be literal ingredients—suggest a dish from what's left in the fridge—or they could be anything else.

So don't just ask for a murder mystery scenario. Also list out the characters who are going to appear. Don't just ask for ideas of where to go in a city; specify the city you're going to, the types of places you want to see, and the people you'll have with you.

Your prompts don't always have to get ChatGPT to generate something from scratch: You can start it off with something, and then let the AI finish it off. The model will take clues from what you've already written and build on it.

This can come in handy for everything from coding a website to composing a poem—and you can then get ChatGPT to go back and refine its answer as well.

You've no doubt noticed how online arguments have tended toward the binary in recent years, so get ChatGPT to help add some gray between the black and the white. It's able to argue both sides of an argument if you ask it to, including both pros and cons.

From politics and philosophy to sports and the arts, ChatGPT is able to sit on the fence quite impressively—not in a vague way, but in a way that can help you understand tricky issues from multiple perspectives.

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Alabama Says Embryos in a Lab Are Children. What Are the Implications?

A ruling by the state’s Supreme Court could change common practices at fertility clinics in the state and possibly nationwide.

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A medical professional, wearing blue scrubs, blue rubber gloves, facial protection and a cap, uses long utensils to pull embryo samples from cryogenic storage in a clinic setting.

By Jan Hoffman

The Alabama Supreme Court has opened a new front in the legal debate over when human life begins. Embryos created and stored in a medical facility must be considered children under the state’s law governing harmful death, the court ruled.

Friday’s ruling was cheered by anti-abortion activists nationwide, who have long argued that life begins at conception. They were thrilled that, for the first time, a court included conception outside the uterus in that definition. But the strongest and most immediate effect of the decision will be on fertility patients trying to get pregnant, not women seeking to end their pregnancies.

The Alabama ruling invites states to enact strict new regulations over the fertility industry that could sharply limit the number of embryos created during a cycle of medical treatment and affect the future of millions of stored frozen embryos. A concurring opinion even offered road maps for such statutes. That could have a chilling effect on a person seeking to have children through in vitro fertilization, whether single or part of a same-sex or heterosexual couple.

What did the ruling say?

The ruling is actually somewhat narrow. It applies to three couples who had sued the Center for Reproductive Medicine, a fertility clinic in Mobile, for inadvertently destroying their embryos. The plaintiffs argued that they were entitled to punitive damages under Alabama’s 1872 Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. Two lower state courts disagreed, saying the embryos were neither people nor children. The State Supreme Court reversed those rulings, saying that the embryos fell squarely under Alabama’s definition of minors and that the negligence lawsuits could proceed. The case will now go back to the State District Court for further litigation.

What did the ruling not say?

The decision is silent on the fate of other frozen embryos in Alabama because that issue was not before the court. The ruling is only about the terms under which plaintiffs may bring a negligence case against a fertility clinic for embryo destruction. However, it could eventually have major consequences for Alabama patients and providers.

On Wednesday, the I.V.F. clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced it was pausing fertility treatments to explore the implications of the court’s ruling on its patients and providers. One fear is that the clinic, doctors and even patients may face daunting new liability issues surrounding the handling of embryos.

What will it mean for fertility patients and clinics?

“The honest answer is that we don’t know for sure,” said Dr. Paula Amato, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine , an organization that lobbies on behalf of fertility experts and patients. “But the ruling is very concerning.”

Freezing embryos is a widespread practice. During a standard cycle of in vitro fertilization, a woman takes hormones to maximize her production of eggs. A doctor then retrieves as many eggs as possible and injects them with sperm in the clinic’s lab, with the goal of creating viable embryos for implantation.

That process will often result in numerous embryos. Because of dangers associated with multiple births from I.V.F., protocols now urge doctors to implant only one embryo at a time. But success with implantation is hardly guaranteed, and so typically doctors freeze remaining embryos for subsequent attempts.

But if laws prevent providers in Alabama from freezing embryos, patients may face the medically challenging and financially draining prospect of many more cycles, Dr. Amato said. Success rates would most likely plummet. “It will disproportionately affect lower income people, people of color and people in L.G.B.T. communities,” she said.

Overall, according to federal data, infertility affects 9 percent of men and 11 percent of women of reproductive age in the United States.

The ruling may therefore restrict the ways that reproductive medicine is practiced in Alabama. “The ruling potentially criminalizes or sets a high civil penalty for standard procedures that we do every day,” Dr. Amato said.

Did the Alabama court suggest protocols for frozen embryos?

No. The court was clear that it could not regulate fertility clinics and the practice of reproductive medicine. But in a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker strongly urged the Alabama legislature to examine the matter. He said that other countries, including Italy, New Zealand and Australia, limited the number of embryos that could be created as well as implanted, and suggested that states look to them for regulatory templates.

Is this case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Not imminently, legal experts predicted. The clinic would have to appeal the decision, a move that could be risky, said Katherine L. Kraschel, an expert on reproductive law at Northeastern University School of Law. In light of the United States Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs ruling that overturned the national right to abortion, she said, the clinic’s chances at even getting to the door of the Supreme Court would be slender, “because the case hinges on a State Supreme Court’s interpretation of its own state statute.”

Lawyers for the clinic did not return requests for comment.

Also, the case is far from finished in Alabama. The State Supreme Court directed the parties to return to the district court to litigate the case in light of the new ruling, including the suggestion that other legal avenues be explored. One issue it identified was whether a clinic’s standard contract with fertility patients, which typically allows providers to donate or destroy embryos at some future point, could limit the clinic’s liability in this case.

Does all this have any effect on abortion?

In recent years, anti-abortion groups have been pressing for fetuses to be granted “personhood” status, which would entitle them to legal protections. In extending that umbrella to cover embryos in a lab , the Alabama Supreme Court employed reasoning that runs through the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 abortion ruling: that fetuses deserve a court’s shield under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

“The Supreme Court is making this bid to think about the fetus as a vulnerable, unprotected minority that courts are obliged to step in and protect, whether that is through upholding anti-abortion restrictions or moving forward toward accepting and recognizing the fetus as a person,” said Melissa Murray, an expert on reproductive law at the New York University School of Law.

Americans United for Life, the country’s oldest anti-abortion organization, was particularly encouraged by Alabama’s embrace of that theme.

“The Alabama Supreme Court held that the text of the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act is clear and applies to all pre-born children, including the plaintiffs’ embryonic pre-born children. In doing so, the Court correctly acknowledged the legal status of embryos as human persons,” Danielle Pimentel, the policy counsel for the organization, said in a statement. “This decision is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that all pre-born children are equally protected under the law.”

Dr. Amato said she found it ironic that anti-abortion groups were supporting rulings that could severely limit I.V.F.

“I.V.F. is about family building,” she said. “It should be viewed by red states as a pro-life activity.”

Jan Hoffman writes about behavioral health and health law. Her wide-ranging subjects include opioids, tribes, reproductive rights, adolescent mental health and vaccine hesitancy. More about Jan Hoffman

What to Know About I.V.F.

In vitro fertilization can be daunting, but preparation and learning about the side effects can make it a lot easier. Our guide can help .

There are still large gaps in our knowledge about how I.V.F. procedures affect women years later. Here’s why .

Many insurance companies don’t cover I.V.F. treatments. But there are ways to ease the financial burden .

For L.G.B.T.Q. couples, the path to parenthood can be long . One writer shared her absurd but ultimately successful experience  using I.V.F. to become pregnant.

Have you gone through an I.V.F. treatment? Tell us about your experience .

Einstein's last message was a dire warning against nuclear war that's still relevant today. Here's what it said.

  •  Einstein urged Roosevelt to fund uranium research, fearing Germany would develop an atomic bomb .
  • After the war, the physicist expressed regret for his role in developing the bomb.
  • His final public act was to sign a manifesto warning that H-bombs could destroy humankind.

Insider Today

Shortly before his death in 1955, Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein signed a manifesto written by philosopher Bertrand Russell .

It was Einstein's last public act and would come to be named the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

The document expressed fear that the public didn’t understand the power of newly developed hydrogen bombs, which are even more powerful than atomic ones.

In the manifesto, Russell warned, “that a war with H-bombs might possibly put an end to the human race."

Though the number has fluctuated over the decades, there are still around 12,500 nuclear weapons in nine countries today, so some of the scientists' fears communicated in the manifesto continue to be relevant today.

'The war is won, but the peace is not.'

In the years after the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project developing the weapons expressed remorse for their work.

They feared how similar bombs would be used in future wars .

Though he was never part of the Manhattan Project , Albert Einstein signed a letter to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, urging him to “speed up the experimental work” on uranium for potential use in atomic weapons.

Years later, the German physicist called the letter his "one great mistake."

A new Netflix docudrama, “ Einstein and the Bomb ,” uses footage and reenactments of the famous scientist and his shifting view of nuclear weapons.

It quotes his 1945 Nobel Prize address expressing concern over the future use of nuclear weapons , saying, “The war is won, but the peace is not.” 

By signing Russell's manifesto, Einstein hoped to warn the public about the dangers of these new weapons as his “final public act,” according to physicist Joseph Rotblat, who resigned from the Manhattan Project over moral objections.

Though this was decades before scientists proposed the theory of nuclear winter , the manifesto predicted the use of several H-bombs would lead to “ universal death ” by “a slow torture of disease and disintegration.”

Rotblat, Frederic Joliot-Curie, Linus Pauling, and other scientists signed the manifesto, which led to the establishment of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. The organization aims to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction. 

In 2013, Rotblat wrote that the manifesto’s statement "Remember your humanity, and forget the rest" was as relevant as the day Russell wrote it. 

Here's a full transcript of The Russell-Einstein Manifesto

9 July 1955

In the tragic situation which confronts humanity, we feel that scientists should assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction, and to discuss a resolution in the spirit of the appended draft.

We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent or creed, but as human beings, members of the species Man, whose continued existence is in doubt. The world is full of conflicts; and, overshadowing all minor conflicts, the titanic struggle between Communism and anti-Communism.  

Almost everybody who is politically conscious has strong feelings about one or more of these issues; but we want you, if you can, to set aside such feelings and consider yourselves only as members of a biological species which has had a remarkable history, and whose disappearance none of us can desire.

We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it.

We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties?

The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, have not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. It is understood that the new bombs are more powerful than the old, and that, while one A-bomb could obliterate Hiroshima, one H-bomb could obliterate the largest cities, such as London, New York, and Moscow.

No doubt in an H-bomb war great cities would be obliterated. But this is one of the minor disasters that would have to be faced. If everybody in London, New York, and Moscow were exterminated the world might, in the course of a few centuries, recover from the blow. But we now know, especially since the Bikini test, that nuclear bombs can gradually spread destruction over a very much wider area than had been supposed.

It is stated on very good authority that a bomb can now be manufactured which will be 2,500 times as powerful as that which destroyed Hiroshima. Such a bomb, if exploded near the ground or under water, sends radio-active particles into the upper air. They sink gradually and reach the surface of the earth in the form of a deadly dust or rain. It was this dust which infected the Japanese fishermen and their catch of fish.

No one knows how widely such lethal radio-active particles might be diffused, but the best authorities are unanimous in saying that a war with H-bombs might quite possibly put an end to the human race. It is feared that if many H-bombs are used there will be universal death – sudden only for a minority, but for the majority a slow torture of disease and disintegration.

Many warnings have been uttered by eminent men of science and by authorities in military strategy. None of them will say that the worst results are certain. What they do say, is that these results are possible, and no one can be sure that they will not be realized. We have not yet found that the views of experts on this question depend in any degree upon their politics or prejudices. They depend only, so far as our researches have revealed, upon the extent of the particular expert’s knowledge. We have found that the men who know most are the most gloomy.

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful, and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race: or shall mankind renounce war?1 People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.

The abolition of war will demand distasteful limitations of national sovereignty.2 But what perhaps impedes understanding of the situation more than anything else is that the term “mankind” feels vague and abstract. People scarcely realize in imagination that the danger is to themselves and their children and their grandchildren, and not only to a dimly apprehended humanity. They can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly. And so they hope that perhaps war may be allowed to continue provided modern weapons are prohibited.

This hope is illusory. Whatever agreements not to use H-bombs had been reached in time of peace, they would no longer be considered binding in time of war, and both sides would set to work to manufacture H-bombs as soon as war broke out, for, if one side manufactured the bombs and the other did not, the side that manufactured them would inevitably be victorious.

Although an agreement to renounce nuclear weapons as part of a general reduction of armaments3 would not afford an ultimate solution, it would serve certain important purposes. First: any agreement between East and West is to the good in so far as it tends to diminish tension. Second: the abolition of thermo-nuclear weapons, if each side believed that the other had carried it out sincerely, would lessen the fear of a sudden attack in the style of Pearl Harbour, which at present keeps both sides in a state of nervous apprehension. We should therefore welcome such an agreement, though only as a first step.

Most of us are not neutral in feeling, but, as human beings, we have to remember that, if the issues between East and West are to be decided in any manner that can give any possible satisfaction to anybody, whether Communist or anti-Communist, whether Asian or European or American, whether White or Black, then these issues must not be decided by war. We should wish this to be understood both in the East and in the West.

There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.

Resolution:

We invite this Congress, and through it the scientists of the world and the general public, to subscribe to the following resolution:

“In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.”

Signatories:

Percy W. Bridgman

Albert Einstein

Leopold Infeld

Frederic Joliot-Curie

Herman J. Muller

Linus Pauling

Cecil F. Powell

Joseph Rotblat

Bertrand Russell

Hideki Yukawa

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Watch: Scientists are saying we're closer to 'Doomsday' — and they blame Trump

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HSBC posts record annual profit but misses estimates on China write-down, shares tumble 7%

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  • HSBC pre-tax profit climbed about 78% to $30.3 billion in 2023 from a year earlier, but missed median estimates of $34.06 billion from analysts tracked by LSEG.
  • Chief Executive Noel Quinn also announced an additional share buyback of up to $2 billion to be completed by the bank's next quarterly report.

In this article

HSBC 's full-year 2023 pretax profit missed analysts' estimates on Wednesday, hit by impairment costs linked to the lender's stake in a Chinese bank, sinking its London-listed shares as much as 7%.

Europe's largest bank by assets saw its pre-tax profit climb about 78% to a record $30.3 billion in 2023 from a year ago, according to its statement released Wednesday during the mid-day trading break in Hong Kong. That missed median estimates of $34.06 billion from analysts tracked by LSEG.

Chief Executive Noel Quinn also announced an additional share buyback of up to $2 billion to be completed ahead of the bank's next quarterly earnings report. HSBC also said it would consider offering a special dividend of 21 cents per share in the first half of 2024 after it completes the sale of its Canada business.

With the highest full-year dividend per share since 2008 and three share buy-backs in 2023 totaling $7 billion, Quinn said the bank returned $19 billion to shareholders last year.

Quinn's remuneration doubled to $10.6 million in 2023 from $5.6 million the year before, boosted in part by variable long-term incentives since his appointment in 2020.

HSBC suffered a "valuation adjustment" of $3 billion on its 19% stake in China's Bank of Communications, Quinn said. In an interview with CNBC following the earnings release, he said this is "a technical accounting adjustment" and "not a reflection" on BoComm.

This write-down was among the items that plunged the bank's fourth-quarter pretax profit by 80% to $1 billion from a year earlier.

HSBC's Hong Kong shares reversed gains of about 1% after trading resumed, falling as much as 5%. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was up about 2%. Shares in London were down around 7% in early deals, set for their biggest one-day drop since 2020, according to Reuters.

Here are the other highlights of the bank's full year 2023 financial report card:

  • Revenue for 2023 increased by 30% to $66.1 billion, compared with the median LSEG forecast for about $66 billion.
  • Net interest margin, a measure of lending profitability, was 1.66% — compared with 1.48% in 2022.
  • Common equity tier 1 ratio — which measures the bank's capital in relation to its assets — was 14.8%, compared with 14.2% in 2022.
  • Basic earnings per share was $1.15, compared with the median LSEG forecast for $1.28 in 2023 and 75 cents for 2022.
  • Dividend per ordinary share was 61 cents — the highest since 2008 — compared with 32 cents in 2022.

Outlook 2024

HSBC, which has a second home in Hong Kong, said it was focusing on the fastest growing parts of Asia, a continent where the bank makes most of its profits.

In an earnings briefing to investors and analysts, the bank said it has completed the sale of its businesses in France, Oman, Greece and New Zealand, and was in the process of exiting Russia, Canada, Mauritius and Armenia.

HSBC CEO says it's 'still very confident' about China's economy

The bank flagged two key macroeconomic trends: declining interest rates as inflation ebbs — a development that could eat into its interest income; and a continued reconfiguration of global supply chains and trade.

"International expansion remains a core strategy for corporates and institutions seeking to develop and expand, especially the mid-market corporates that HSBC is very well-positioned to serve. Rather than de-globalizing, we are seeing the world re-globalize, as supply chains change and intraregional trade flows increase," Quinn said in the earnings statement.

The bank is targeting a mid-teens return on tangible equity for 2024, which was about 14.5% last year.

HSBC said it will be focusing on an expansion of non-interest income revenue sources via its wealth and transaction banking business. It is expecting banking non interest income of at least $41 billion in financial year 2024.

HSBC said it's cautious about the loan growth outlook for the first half of 2024 amid economic uncertainty, expecting a mid-single digit annual percentage growth over the medium to long term.

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IRS to go after executives who use business jets for personal travel in new round of audits

FILE - Private jets sit parked at Scottsdale Airport Jan. 27, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. IRS leadership said Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, that the agency will start up dozens of audits on businesses' private jets and how they are used personally by executives and written off as a tax deduction — as part of the agency's ongoing mission of going after high-wealth tax cheats who game the tax system at the expense of American taxpayers. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

FILE - Private jets sit parked at Scottsdale Airport Jan. 27, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. IRS leadership said Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, that the agency will start up dozens of audits on businesses’ private jets and how they are used personally by executives and written off as a tax deduction — as part of the agency’s ongoing mission of going after high-wealth tax cheats who game the tax system at the expense of American taxpayers. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Staff headshot of Fatima Hussein at the Associated Press bureau in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — First, there were trackers on Taylor Swift and other celebrities’ private jet usage. Now, there will be more scrutiny on executives’ personal use of business aircraft who write it off as a tax expense.

IRS leadership said Wednesday that the agency will start conducting dozens of audits on businesses’ private jets and how they are used personally by executives and written off as a tax deduction — as part of the agency’s ongoing mission of going after high-wealth tax cheats who game the tax system at the expense of American taxpayers.

The audits will focus on aircraft used by large corporations and high-income taxpayers and whether the tax purpose of the jet use is being properly allocated, the IRS says.

“At this time of year, when millions of hardworking taxpayers are working on their taxes, we want them to feel confident that everyone is playing by the same rules,” IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said on a call with reporters to preview the announcement. Tax season began Jan. 29 .

FILE - A sign for the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, on May 4, 2021. The IRS says it expects to collect hundreds of billions of dollars more in overdue and unpaid taxes than previously anticipated using funding provided to the agency by the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

“These aircraft audits will help ensure high-income groups aren’t flying under the radar with their tax responsibilities,” he said.

There are more than 10,000 corporate jets in the US., according to the IRS, valued at tens of millions of dollars and many can be fully deducted.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed during the Trump administration, allowed for 100% bonus depreciation and expensing of private jets — which allowed taxpayers to write off the cost of aircraft purchased and put into service between September 2017 and January 2023.

Werfel said the federal tax collector will use resources from Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act to more closely examine private jet usage — which has not been closely scrutinized during the past decade as funding fell sharply in the last decade.

“Our audit rates have been anemic,” he said on the call. An April 2023 IRS report on tax audit data states that “continued resource constraints have limited the agency’s ability to address high-end noncompliance” stating that in tax year 2018, audit rates for people making more than $10 million were 9.2%, down from 13.6% in 2012. And in the same time period, overall corporate audit rates fell from 1.3% to .6%.

Mike Kaercher, senior attorney advisor at the Tax Law Center at NYU said in a statement that the IRS should also revisit how it values personal use of corporate aircraft, beyond just how flights are reported.

“The current rules allow these flights to be significantly undervalued, enabling wealthy filers to pay much less in taxes than fair market value would dictate, and it’s within the IRS’ authority to revise these rules,” Kaercher said.

Werfel said audits related to aircraft usage could increase in the future depending on the results of the initial audits and as the IRS continues hiring more examiners.

“To be clear, that doesn’t mean everyone in a high-income category partnership or corporation is evading or avoiding their tax responsibility,” Werfel said. “But it does mean that there’s more work to do for the IRS to make sure people are paying what they owe.”

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