Eng 210F EXAM NOTES
Common Reasons for Writing
- To request or provide information
- To create a record
- To explain a policy or procedure
- To provide instructions
- To encourage action
- To promote goodwill
- Scope refers to the level of detail required.
- What is the reader expecting? You don’t want to write 4-5 pages when they only need concise
- What is your workplace or industry standard?
- Visual elements
An audience analysis should consider the following elements about the receiver:
- Responsibility or position (decision worker or an advisor)
- Attitudes, interests, and questions
- Experience: needs, potential conflicts
- Response: neutral (they gonna read it and file it) , receptive (promotion) ,
resistant (person has objections)
- Relationship of the receiver to you (are they co-worker or manager
- Secondary receivers (also be read by # of ppl, assume that supervisors will read it)
- Background, environment, and beliefs (readers in diff culture)
- Expectations ( what are they expecting to get out of ur message)
How will the message be transmitted?
Traditional transmission Modern Transmission
Telephone Text Message
Selecting an Appropriate Medium
- Accuracy: Is the medium reliable?
- Speed: Is the message time-sensitive?
- Cost: Is there a budget?
- Permanence: Is a record required?
- Detail: Is written or spoken communication better?
- Richness: Are verbal or visual cues required?
- Preference: Does your organization have rules?
- Importance: Is a certain level of formality required?
- Privacy: Is the message confidential?
- Audience: How many people must receive the message? - Feedback: Is an immediate response required?
Methods of Organization:
- 1.Sequential: Step 1 > Step 2 > Step 3
- 2.Chronological: Last Week > Today > Next Week
- 3. Cause and effect: Cause > Effect
Memos have three key functions:
- 1. To provide a record:
- Email memos provide a written record that telephone conversations and meetings do
- 2. To reach a wider audience:
- Email memos reach a wider audience for the lowest cost in time and money. Emails can
be carbon copped (cc’d) to other parties.
- 3. 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.
Memos are generally internal, or sent within an organization.
- Fast and efficient,
- Distinctive in structure (a two-part structure: header and message),
- Less formal than a letter,
- Usually one page in length, and
- Focused on a single topic.
Longer memos require additional formatting techniques, such as:
- Headings, Subheadings, boldfaced font, Bulleted lists, and Numbered lists.
It is a compact written message designed to help someone remember
An informational memo is an in-house communication addressed to one or
more individuals. The objective is to convey one or more pieces of information
that relate specifically to the topic in the subject line.
An instructional memo is an in-house communication addressed to one or more
individuals. The objective is to convey one or more directives that relate
specifically to the topic found in the subject line. It will both call for and expect
an action to be taken.
Who, What, Where, When, Why? The opening sentence of a business memo should state the
objective, or reason for writing.
The objective is the answer to some or all of the "W" questions a person might reasonably ask
after having read the SUBJECT line of a memo.
Should one sentence not be enough to convey the objective, one or two more sentences can supply
the background information necessary for the reader to comprehend the memo's purpose.
Summary Following the opening, furnish the details; provide, describe, and analyze whatever information or
instructions are relevant to the subject at hand.
The key is to present the details in an uncomplicated manner. The reader should be able to quickly
single out specifically what is most important for him or her to know.
This can often be done in a bulleted list, however, it is important to avoid going overboard. Lists
by nature are short on context. They are great for simple messages but, nevertheless, you must
supply enough information for the list to make contextual sense.
More complex messages can be broken into subsections with descriptive headings printed in bold,
underlined, or italicized.
When necessary, follow your summary with a section rounding out the details of your business
memo. Include contextual material that specifically supports the information or instructions you
Remember that a memo is also a reference tool and may be called upon at any time to provide a
written snapshot of a previous event, action, or decision. Avoid being sketchy with the details.
Include names of people, times of meetings, actions previously taken, decisions made, etc.,
whenever they bear directly on the subject of your message.
Closing remarks are an opportunity to restate your observations and analysis, make
recommendations, and propose solutions. You've put it in writing; now call for an action.
If you expect cooperation, be considerate. As in any form of communication, a respectful tone
goes a long way toward achieving the results you desire.
FORMAT FOR MEMO
- Includes the date, who it is addressed to, who it is form, the subject, and a list of other
people receiving the memo.
Memo Headings first is Date
- European - 23 May 2007 (European method)
- North American - May 23, 2007 (North American method)
- Metric Standard - 2007/05/23
- Receiver’s name
- Job title (optional)
- Courtesy title
- (optional, except for superiors)
- List of multiple names:
- Alphabetically by last name
- Descending order of importance
- Group name (Claims Processors, Marking 105 Group)
- Sender’s name
- Courtesy title (optional) - Initial the end of this line
- (paper copies only)
- Can be called “Re”
- One line long
- E.g., Cost Reduction Estimate
- Gives action
- E.g., Cost Reduction Estimate for Review
5. CC (“Carbon Copy”):
- Lists of other people receiving a copy of the message
Opening Paragraph Consider the purpose for writing, the most
important information, and the required action.
Middle Paragraph Include detailed information (in a chronological
order, or an order of specificity, or by order of
Closing Paragraph Detail the call for action, the reason for the
request, and the deadline.
For longer Memos
You need a Summary statement(s):
Includes Sub-headings which have:
Using Lists for Memos and E-mail
- Lead-ins (introducing, explaining, and context for items).
- Three to eight items (sub-divide if necessary).
- Parallel phrasing.
- Semantic and grammatical continuity. Be consistent on the lists used
- Transitions to the sentences after the list.
Email can be both internal (within an organization) and external (outside an organization). Email:
- Follows the memo format,
- Is paperless,
- Uses a constantly evolving style, and
- Is usually one screen in length.
Benefits of using Emails
-Speed and Ease of collaboration
Guidelines to write Emails
- Keep it brief.
- Remember other options and match the situation to medium/channel.
-Follow organizational rules for e-mail.
- Don’t use company e-mail system for personal e-mails
- Balance speed and accuracy.
- Avoid emoticons.
EMAIL BODY MESSAGE
- Use appropriate greetings (omitted in memos).
- Use the title and last name format if your don’t know the receiver (Mr. Lopez, Ms Chan,
Professor Smith, etc)
- Get to the point immediately.
- Use lists but don’t overload them.
- Sign off with complimentary closing, such as “Thanks”, “Regards”, or “Cheers”.
- Tell people who you are.
- Include a signature.
- Edit and spell-check. - Creates credibility.
- Use common sense when sending attachments. Think about:
- Size of attachments,
- Number of attachments, and
- Clean file names for each attachment.
REPLY TO AN EMAIL GUIDELINES
- Modify distribution lists.
- Avoid the “reply all” option.
- Use common sense when forwarding e-mail.
- Consider why and to whom you are sending a message.
- Wait for a reply.
- Be reasonable.
- Telephone to follow-up.
Informative memos and e-mails are used for announcements, policies, guidelines, instructions,
- Use a clear subject line.
- Write a direct action-specific opening.
- Explain the subject clearly.
- Include follow-up instructions (often numbered).
- Write a good closing.
Reply memos and e-mails respond to requests.:
- Open with the most important element first.
- Organize multiple responses (boldface or headings).
- Sum up and offer assistance in the closing.
Goodwill e-mails offer gratitude and congratulations.:
- Identify the situation.
- Provide reader-focused details.
- Write a forward-looking closing.
- Avoid clichés.
Follow-up e-mails keep a record of correspondence details.:
- List meeting names and titles.
- Outline basic facts, agreements, directives, and decisions.
- Provide written confirmation or oral agreements.
- Create opportunities for clarification and feedback.
- Definition: the rules, conventions, and options you need to consider whenever you write.
- A business style is a reflection of how you and your company do business
A good business style helps with:
1. Career growth, 2. Personal Growth 3. Corporate Credibility
A plain style uses the following conventions:
- Plain and everyday language (but not slang)
- Common everyday words (e.g., “express” rather than “delineate”)
- Reasonable sentence length
- Active-voice verbs and phrasal verbs
- Personal pronouns, (I, You, and We)
- Unambiguous language (make sure you try to get your words across)
- Close subject and verb placement
- Achieving conciseness requires a fine balance.
Conciseness is desirable but too much can make writing uneven, choppy, blunt, or rude
Ways to Achieve Conciseness
- Eliminate long lead-ins. - Revise noun conversions (nominalization s).
- Eliminate redundancies.
- Revise empty words and phrases.
- Use precise, strong, and accurate words.
TONE AND STYLE
Tone is reflected in the words we use:
- Denotation is the dictionary definition of the words.
- Connotation is the implied, positive, or negative emotions created by the words.
- Is she “skinny” or “slender”?
- Are his clothes “plus size” or “executive fit”?
Tone is reflected in the level of formality through:
- Word choice,
- Sentence length, and
- Sentence structure.
Levels of formality can be expressed through both a personal and an impersonal tone.
Personal Tone Impersonal Tone
Use Shorter Sentences A mix of Sentence lengths (long,short)
Personal pronouns No personal pronouns
First names and Personal references No first names or Personal references
Active voice Passive voice
Key points to remember to establish a good tone:
- Be positive.
- Stress reader benefits and relevance.
- Be polite.
- Use inclusive language.
- Be confident.
- We will all need to ask for a favour, present a new idea, promote a product, or explain how to
solve a problem.
- We will need to persuade someone of something.
Persuasion is the act of persuading (or attempting to persuade); communication intended to
induce belief or action
Steps to Write Persuasively
1. ) Know your purpose and what you want the reader to do.:
- Make your request seem reasonable and beneficial.
- Include information that will overcome resistance and make follow-up easy.
2. Understand what motivates your reader (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs).:
- Know your reader’s goals and needs.
- Will your goal save time or money, solve a problem, or help to achieve a work objective?
3) Consider the design and layout.:
- Opinions will be made on the “look” of your document.
- Layout, typography, and white space should be professional and attractive.
4) Be positive and accurate.:
- Use a sincere, confident tone, and “you”-centred language.
- Avoid creating the impression that you are “giving orders.”
5) Anticipate objections and plan how to deal with them.:
- Respect the views of your reader.
- Frame your requests as “win-win.”
- Use a “concession statement.”
- Consider the longer-term benefits or the “bigger picture.”
Persuasive messages appeal to the reader’s:
1. Sense of reason 2. Emotions, and 3. Sense of right (ethics)
Sense of Reason Support your argument with evidence, such as non-numerical facts, expert opinions, statistics,
examples, and analogies.:
- Show clarity and use logical argument development:
Appeal to the reader’s emotions.:
- Use emotions to create a desire to act.
- Base an emotional appeal on fact or reason.
- Select words with emotional power (e.g., “special”, “deserve”, “free”).
- Create “sense impressions” (by using words like “see”, “feel”, “hear”, “taste”, “smell”).
Appeal to the reader’s sense of right (ethics).:
- Establish your credibility before you write (if possible), or in your writing.
- Strive to be believable, responsible, ethical.
- Personal credibility is based on specialized knowledge, reputation, position, and familiarity.
Toulon’s Model of Argumentation
1. Claim: the position or claim being argued for; the conclusion of the argument.
2. Grounds: reasons or supporting evidence that bolster the claim.
3.Warrant: the principle, provision or chain of reasoning that connects the grounds/reason to the
4.Backing: support, justification, reasons to back up the warrant.
5. Rebuttal/Reservation: exceptions to the claim; description and rebuttal of counter-examples
6. Qualification: specification of limits to claim, warrant and backing. The degree of
- The Claim.
- The claim is the statement that describes the idea you are attempting to persuade the
reader to accept.
An example of a claim is:
We should advertise on a local radio.
- The Grounds.
- The grounds are the facts that support your claim. The grounds should be as based on
strong sources of evidence or they run the risk of becoming claims themselves.
- Backing provides additional support for the warrant. Backing differs from grounds in
direct relevance; it supports the warrant with additional, but less crucial facts.
- The qualifier helps stabilize the bridge between claim and warrant if the writer believes
there may be some situation in which the claim could be false. The qualifier makes an
appeal to ethos by demonstrating the depth of the writer’s thinking on the subject.
- Rebuttal -- The rebuttal is a preemptive strike against any counter-arguments that could
arise. A rebuttal is an effective appeal to both logic and ethos.
Indirect writing plan:
- Breaks down resistance and prepares readers for your message.
- Illustrates a gradual and deliberate attempt to earn trust and show reason.
- Allows the reader to easily see benefits.
There are 3 parts to an indirect writing plan:
- Obtain interest.
- Define a problem, identify common ground, cite reader benefits, and ask a question
- Prove the benefits to the reader.
- Explain how the product/proposal meets a particular need.
- Further detail direct or indirect benefits. - Give information that will deal with any objections.
- Ask for action.
- Link the action in incentives that will appeal to your reader and to a deadline.
Persuasive Memo Example:
- Describe a problem, present a solution, and make a proposal or request:
- Use an indirect approach.
- Summarize the problem.
- Show the cause or source of the problem.
- Avoid accusations and negative language.
- Use a subject like that shoes the positive results or benefits.
- Explain the solution:
- Cite statistical evidence (facts, figures, benefits).
- Minimize resistance:
- Anticipate objections (money, time, threats to authority, professional status, or status
- Request specific action:
- Be firm and polite (not aggressive).
- Set a deadline.
- Offer incentives for a prompt
Two goals for delivering bad news:
- Deliver bad news clearly, concisely, and respectfully.
- Help the reader accept bad news by showing fairness and logic.
- Maintain and build goodwill.
- Convey a one-time message, reducing the need for clarification or additional correspondence.
- Balance business needs and sensitivity to the reader’s position.
- Reduce impatience and hostility by being prompt, accountable, and considerate.
Types of Bad News
- Assessments of appraisals
The proper tone is:
- Set in the subject line of the message.
- Reinforced by the closing.
- Subject lines can be omitted from letters.
- The complimentary closing should match the overall tone.
Direct Writing plan for Bad news Messages Indirect Writing plan for Bad News
You know is directed, news is expected, You don’t know the reader very well. You
information is critical expect a strong negative reaction
Your company’s practice is directness. Your
also terminating the relationship
Provide simple statement of bad news. Provide buffer to guide reader to the
Be Brief and clear, offer alternative. Close with explanation.
statement with goodwill. Offer an alternative. Close with goodwill and
consideration of reader’s feelings
Bad News Buffers
Buffers are one to three sentences that: - Neutralize bad news,
- Establish rapport, and
- Reduce the reader’s shock.
- Avoid using negative language such as: “no”, “unfortunately”, and “regrettably.”
Types of Bad News Buffers
- Expression of appreciation.
- Good or neutral news.
- General principle of fact
- Chronology of past communication
- Statement of agreement or common ground
- Apology or statement of understanding
Revealing Bad News
Explain the situation and then reveal the bad news. How?
- Put the bad news in a dependent clause.
- Suggest a compromise or alternative.
- Use the passive voice.
- Use longer sentences.
Good Will Message
Delivering Positive and Neutral Messages
Take the direct approach:
- Give the main idea in the first sentence or paragraph.
- Use this approach for good news, and for informative and routine messages that are neutral.
- The direct approach is appropriate in North America (a low-content culture).
- Not appropriate for high-context cultures, where directness is considered rude.
Direct- Approach Writing Plan
- Address a specific request or answer your reader’s most important question.
- Explain details, give clarifications, and supply background information.
- Present additional supporting information in bulleted lists using parallel form.
- Provide contact information.
- Ask for action, input, or a response.
- Give deadlines or timelines.
- Communicate goodwill or appreciation.
Reports allow managers and co-workers to stay informed, review opinions, plan, and make
- Considered to be legal documents.
- Must be accurate, complete, objective, selective, and structured.
- Select and include the information necessary for actions to be taken or decisions to be made.
- Consider the reader’s needs and background knowledge.
- Organize the material logically for the reader.
Informal Reports Formal Reports
Are 1-10 pages in length. Are 10-100 pages.
Follow a letter or memo format. Include a title page, cover letter, table of
contents, and abstracts.
Use personal pronouns and contractions. Don’t use personal pronouns or contractions.
Include some visual aids. Include many visual aids. Are routine and internal. Are distributed to external or internal superiors.
Common categories of short reports:
- Situational (trips, progress, and activity)
Formats and distribution:
- Memo report
- Prepared form report
- Letter report
- Formal report
Direct or Indirect Approach
Are you persuading or just informing?
- The direct approach is:
- Used for informational and analytical reports.
-Used for routine, non-sensitive information for recurring or one time events.
- Informational format:
- Facts and findings
- The indirect approach:
- Expects resistance from the reader.
- Requires persuasion or education of the reader.
Format for Indirect Approach
- Facts and findings
- Discussion and analysis
- Conclusions or recommendations
The Writing Process
- What do you need?
- How long will it take?
- Who will complete each task?
- Detail the purpose of the report or reason for the report.
- Preview the key points.
- Outline the data collection methods.
- Organize the data by subheadings.
- List in order of importance (most to least).
- This section is often most interesting to the reader.
Visual aids serve two main purposes:
- To make numerical information easier to understand.
- To clarify and simplify data.
Types of Graphs
4) A table that uses languages (descriptive)
5) Easy to follow along
- Shows proportion - The circle of the pie chart always represents 100%
- The pieces do the pie chart represent the percentages/portions of the whole.
- Shows relations between items, and relations over time.
- Like bar charts, but use pictures to represent the number of data
- Makes presentation more clear and interesting to look at
- Charts used in project planning
- Show elements of projects and time it is blocked off in the project (progression of project)
- Shows step-by-step process in pictorial form where each shape represents a type of process
- Demonstrates hierarchies within demonstrations
Visual aids and graphics allow you to:
- Clarify information presented in a report.
- Present complex data in a reader-friendly way.
Working in Teams
- Be attentive and considerate to other viewpoints and be sure to understand the ideas of others
before giving your opinion.
Select a team leader or project coordinator:
- One person should be responsible for monitoring the progress of the team and consolidates the
- Meet (in our case, online) to brainstorm ideas and concepts for the formal report.
- Create an outline that designates who will write what section with due dates for drafts and future
Agree on writing Standards:
- Agree on heading and sub-heading format, use of personal pronouns (see formal report
module), use of active voice, etc. To reduce the differences between the various writing styles.
Review each other’s work:
- The best way to harmonize writing styles is to edit each other’s work. Keep an open mind and
be courteous in your edits and suggestions.
This is the only way to assure that the entire document is coherent in style, for example, all active
Proposals and Formal Reports
- Proposals suggest solutions to problems (different from recommendation reports)
- The direct approach is most commonly used.
- The goal is to persuade readers to follow, agree to, or approve of a request for action, business,
Internal proposals can be formal or informal.
They respond to questions such as:
- How can money be saved? How much?
- When will the savings start?
- Will sales or productivity be boosted?
- Will the company be more competitive?
External proposals can also be formal or informal.
They seek to create new business and generate income:
- Responds to Request for Proposal - RFP
- Unsolicited - Must convince the reader that a need or problem exists
Elements of informal proposal:
- Problem details
- Purpose and goal
- Client needs and benefits
Proposal, Method, Schedule:
- Detail solutions:
- Product or service
- Start and completion dates
- Previous work completed
- Cost breakdown
- Expertise and credentials
- Benefits or advantages to the reader
Request for Authorization:
- Expiry date for the proposal
- Request for permission to proceed
- Additional information
Elements of Formal Proposals
1. Front Matter:
- Copy of the RFP
- Cover letter
- Abstract or summary
- Title page
- Table of contents
- List of figures
2.Executive Summary or Abstract:
- One page summary of highlights
- In non-technical language (executive summary)
- In technical language (abstract)