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Unformatted text preview: Good Business Writing: Memos and E-Mails Nancy Lee Nelson Memoranda (or memos) and e-mail are the two principal forms of daily, written communication in business. While business writers use e-mail for communications both within and outside their company or organization, memos are for internal communication only. When communicating with someone outside the company or organization, business writers use e-mail or letters on company letterhead. In general, memos and e-mails are shorter and regarded as less formal than letters and reports. Memos and e-mail may be one paragraph or a few pages, but most effective memos are only one page long, and most effective e-mail is limited to one screen. Successful memos and e-mail are clear, concise, compelling, cordial, and correct. How are memos and e-mail organized? Both memos and e-mail include • a subject line • an introduction that captures the conclusion or main point of the message (except in special writing situations when the reader is likely to be resistant to the message) and provides an overview (sometimes called an executive summary) of the document • supporting paragraphs that explain or provide evidence for the main point • a concluding section Subject lines and headlines should be clear, precise, and concise Subject lines describe the content of the message clearly, precisely, and correctly. They should be as specific as possible and usually 10 words or fewer. The subject line and headlines should never exceed one line of text. Many business people make choices about which e-mails to open based in part on the clarity and precision of the subject line. Compare the following subject lines for an e-mail requesting vacation time: • Request This is a poor subject line. It gives the reader no indication of the nature of the request – is it for help with a project? attendance at a meeting? information? supplies? Is it a response to a request? • Vacation request This is a mediocre subject line. It provides the reader with a general idea of the topic, but it is too vague. Is the writer making a vacation request? asking the reader to put his/her vacation preferences on the department calendar? 1 complaining about lack of action on a vacation request? suggesting a new procedure for requesting vacation time? • Request for vacation: July 18 – 22 This is a good subject line. It states clearly that the subject is a request for vacation time and specifies the dates requested. However, is the sender requesting or approving a request? • Please approve request for vacation: July 18-22 This is an excellent subject line. It states clearly that the subject is a request for vacation time, it specifies the dates requested, and it indicates the action the sender would like from the reader....
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This note was uploaded on 01/09/2011 for the course SMG 121 taught by Professor Arnold during the Spring '08 term at BU.
- Spring '08