June PeakCare Queensland Inc Writing Memos Key Points Memos by xzibit

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									June 2007

PeakCare Queensland Inc
Writing Memos
Key Points: • Memos are designed to convey important information quickly and formally. • The way you write a memo will either enhance or work against its ability to get the information out in the best way. Even when there is a particular style guide for an organisation, there are some basic steps to writing good memos. The Parts of a Memo Standard memos are divided into segments to organize the information and to help achieve the writer's purpose. 1. Heading The heading segment follows this general format: TO: (readers' names and job titles) FROM: (your name and job title) DATE: (complete and current date) SUBJECT: (what the memo is about, highlighted in some way) Helpful hints: Make sure you address the reader by his or her correct name and job title. Be specific and concise in your subject line. Activity Practice writing to the above headings using your name, title and the reader’s name and title and the subject of the memo giving special attention to ensuring that it is concise, accurate and formal 2. Opening segment The purpose of a memo should be easily and quickly established in the opening segment paragraph(s) and this can be broken up into three parts: the context and problem, the specific assignment or task, and the purpose of the memo. 2.1. The context is the event, circumstance, or background of the problem you are solving. You may use a paragraph to establish the background and state the problem or simply the opening of a sentence. Take for example a memo to staff in relation to the smoking policy. You may begin the memo with,

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Introduction The key reason people use memos is to solve problems quickly and easily in a way that everyone will understand. Memos solve problems either by informing the reader about new information, such as policy changes, or by persuading the reader to take an action, such as attend a meeting, use less paper, or change a current production procedure. Basic Memo Plan and Style The common memo plan or style is the direct plan or style. This style begins by stating the most important points first and then moves to supporting details. This plan is useful for routine information and for relaying news. Other styles include the indirect style which makes an appeal or sets out evidence first and arrives at a conclusion based on these facts. This plan is best used when you need to arouse your reader's interest before describing some action that you want taken. A combination approach of both the direct and the indirect styles can be used for the balanced plan. This plan is particularly useful when relaying bad news, as it combines information and persuasion.

In 2005, the State and federal Governments introduced a series of Workplace Health and Safety Policies that require the management of organisations to provide clear direction in relation to smoking cigarettes on commercial premises… This statement provides the reader with an understanding of what the memo is about, as well as some background and context to it. Be sure to include only what your reader needs, but be sure it is clear. 2.2. In the task statement you should describe what you are doing to help solve the problem. If the action was requested, your task may be indicated by a sentence opening like, "The board has asked that I look at the responsibilities of the organisation in relation to this matter...." If you want to explain your intentions, you might say: In order that this organisation complies with these recent policy and legislative changes.... In this way, you are providing the reader with clear information about what is going to happen and what precipitated it, or how it has come about. 2.3. Finally, the purpose statement of a memo gives your reason for writing it and forecasts what is in the rest of the memo. Here, you need to be as clear and concise as possible, without being blunt or overtly authoritative; as this will cloud the message you want the reader to get. For example, you might say: …this memo outlines the current situation, the proposed amendments to current policy and timelines for these changes. If you plan to use headings for your memo segments, you can refer to your major headings in this forecast statement to provide a better guide for your reader.

Helpful hints: • Include only as much information as is needed by the decision-makers in the context, but be convincing that a real problem exists. Do no ramble on with insignificant details.

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If you are having trouble putting the task into words, consider whether you have clarified the situation. You may need to do more planning before you're ready to write your memo. Make sure your purpose-statement forecast divides your subject into the most important topics that the decisionmaker needs. Activity When we put the statements above together we end up with one brief paragraph that provides all the necessary information in a clear and concise and readable way: In 2006, the State and federal Governments introduced a series of Workplace Health and Safety Policies that require the management of organisations to provide clear direction in relation to smoking cigarettes on commercial premises. In order that this organisation complies with these recent policy and legislative changes this memo outlines the current situation, the proposed amendments to current policy and timelines for these changes are outlined below. Create an opening paragraph based on the key points we have outlined above on a topic of your own choosing. 3. Discussion Segments The discussion segments are the parts in which you get to include all the juicy details that support your ideas. Keep these two things in mind: 1. Begin with the information that is most important. This is the information that you want to reader to feel is most important. 2. This is followed by the next most important piece of information and so on. 3. You may find that dot points are very useful but you should check agency style guides in relation to layout

For example: From the 1 July 2007: • Smoking within 5 metres of the front door to the main building will no longer be permitted. • Smoking will only be permitted during designated breaks. • The supply of cigarettes to residents and young people is also prohibited. • While all efforts will be made to support staff during a transitional phase regarding this policy, staff who repeatedly do not acting in accordance with the policy may be subject to disciplinary procedures. 4. Summary Segment If your memo is longer than a page, you may want to include a separate summary segment which provides a brief statement of the key recommendations you have reached. These will help your reader understand the key points of the memo immediately. This segment may also include references to methods and sources you have used in your research, but remember to keep it brief. You can help your reader understand your memo better by using headings for the summary and the discussion segments that follow it. Try to write headings that are short but that clarify the content of the segment. For example, instead of using “Summary” for your heading, try “Relevant legislation and policy,” which is much more specific. The major headings you choose here are the ones that will appear in your purposestatement forecast. 5. Closing Segment After the reader has absorbed all of your information, it is important to end the memo politely and stating what action you want your reader to take. It is important to consider how the reader will benefit from the desired actions and how you can make those actions easier. For example, you might say: I will be glad to discuss any queries you may have in relation to this memo. In addition, we will be offering a range of supports for individuals wishing to consider giving up smoking and I will be glad to discuss these also.

Links This paper has been adapted from Owl English, Purdue. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/ handouts/pw/p_memo.html


								
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