Module 3: Memorandums, E-mail, and Routine Messages (May 17, 2012)
Memorandums: An Introduction
o Historically the genre of choice for internal communications
o Gradually being replaced by email
o Format still survives (very basic)
Memos and Emails
Memos have three key functions:
o To provide a record:
Email memos provide a written record that telephone conversations and
meetings do not.
o To reach a wider audience:
Email memos reach a wider audience for the lowest cost in time and
money. Emails can be carbon copied to other parties.
o To communicate with sensitivity:
Often a communication can be better transmitted via an email memo.
More care and effort can go into an email that rejects a proposal than into
a telephone conversation that rejects the same proposal.
Memo Writing Principles
Conciseness and Clarity (essential to memo writing)
Keep sentences short and action oriented and write in the active voice. Use “we”
when speaking for your organization and “I” when speaking for yourself.
Use the fewest words needed to make your point effectively
Use familiar words and state the action you are communicating early on in the
Avoid messaging lingo (lol, etc.)
Example of unclear and rambling message:
o Ex: The program you have put forward is of excellent quality and the cost
structure is well throughout. For these reasons, I would like to make the
recommendation that the program be initiated immediately.
An example of a clear and concise message:
o Ex: I am recommending initiating your program proposal based on its excellent
Memos in essence serve two purposes: 1 – to create internal communications of short,
focussed message and 2 – to provide a format to create informal reports for more
Memos are generally internal, or sent within an organization. They are:
o Fast and efficient, o Distinctive in structure (a two-part structure: header and message),
o Less formal than a letter,
o Usually one page in length, and
o Focused on a single topic
Longer memos require additional formatting techniques, such as:
o Boldfaced font,
o Bulleted lists, and
o Numbered lists
o Heading – includes the date, who it is addressed to , who it is from, the subject,
and a list of other people receiving the memo
European – 23 May 2007
North American – May 23, 2007
Metric Standard – 2007/05/23
Job title (optional)
o Optional, except for superiors (then use Mr., Ms. etc.)
List multiple names:
o Alphabetically by last name
o Descending order of importance
o Group name (Claims Processors, Marketing 105)
Courtesy title (optional)
Initial the end of this line
o Paper copies only
Can be called “Re”
One line long
o ES: Cost Reduction Estimate
o Ex: Cost reduction Estimate for Review
CC (“Carbon Copy”)
List other people receiving a copy of the message
o Message Memo Organization
Plan ahead: Consider the facts, issues, and reader’s needs.
Consider the purpose for writing, the most important information, and the
Include detailed information (in a chronological order, or an order of
specificity, or by order of importance).
Detail the call for action, the reason for the request, and the deadline.
Memo Organization for Longer Memos (like for a report)
Summary statement(s) at the beginning of the memo
o Other elements:
Double space between paragraphs
Bold and italics
Lists for Memos and E-mail
o Lead-ins (introducing, explaining, and context for items).
o Three to eight items (sub-divide if necessary).
o Parallel phrasing (chose type of list: horizontal or vertical lists).
o Semantic and grammatical continuity (use similar formats throughout the memo).
Be careful not to overuse lists
o Transitions to the sentences after the list.
Sample Memo (RP – Red Point on the figure below)
Opens directly with a polite command and uses active-voice sentence (First RP)
Explains the opening request, offers details and supplies end date for action (RP2)
Explains enclosed material, cites reader benefits, and offers additional information (RP3)
Expresses appreciation for action (RP4) E-mail
Email can be both internal (within an organization) and external (outside an
o Follows the memo format
o Is paperless,
o Uses a constantly evolving style, and
o Is usually one screen in length
Benefits and Limitations:
Ease of collaboration
Public, possibility of a wider circulation than you intended. Make sure that
what you put into an email can be forwarded to others.
Lacks standard practices
Keep it Brief (and understandable).
Remember other options and march the situation to medium/channel. o Compose offline (attachments).
Follow organization rules for e-mail.
Don’t use a company e-mail system for personal e-mails.
Balance speed and accuracy (brief and concise but also accurate).
Remember that e-mail is not guaranteed to be private.
Don’t write angry.
Don’t send unnecessary messages.
Protect yourself and your company.
Managing your E-mail
Schedule time for reading and writing e-mail
Complete regular inbox clean-ups
Scan the entire list of new messages in your inbox
Use filtering options and anti=spam software
Capture your e-mail in a recognizable records system
Suggestions for Formatting and Writing E-mail
Type the electronic address correctly
Compose an action specific subject line
Wrap text after 70 characters
Use upper and lower case letters
Avoid SHOUTING (using all capitals)
Keep paragraphs and sentence short
Your E-mail message
Use appropriate greetings (omitted in memos)
Use the title and last name format if you don’t know the receiver (Mr Lopez, Ms Lopez,
Get to the point immediately (in the first or second sentence)
Use lists but don’t overload them
Sign off with complimentary closing, such as “Thanks,”