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                                                 458-1455
                                   writingcenter.tamu.edu
    Correspondence:
Letters, Memos, & Emails
Letters, memos,
and emails can be
either formal or
casual.

The level of
formality is not
determined by the
format (email vs.
letter), but by the
reader and purpose.
Casual
• Making contact with
  friends and family
• Sharing news and
  announcements about
  personal milestones
• Invitations (not work-
  related)
Formal
• Business of any kind
• Workplace
  communications
• Cover letters for
  resumes or for
  transmitting reports
• Grade appeals
• Checking in with a
  professor about class
• Writing to a
  government official
• Who will read and
  act on what you
  write?
• Who else may read
  it?
  – Your words can easily be
    copied to others.
  – They may be subject to
    scrutiny by courts and
    lawyers.
  – Think carefully before
    you hit the send button
    or affix the stamp.
Your correspondence might
  be:

• quickly skimmed and filed
• forwarded to someone else
• read, copied, and
  distributed to readers
  unknown to you
• used in a meeting for
  discussing a particular
  point
• used to give instructions
• read carefully and later
  used as a reference
Letters
• Are written to someone
  outside the organization
• Can be attached as
  documents to emails
• May be handwritten or typed

Formality is determined by
purpose and audience, and not
by how the letter is formatted.
         1111 Bovary Drive
Block    Plainview, TX 79072
         December 28, 2005
Format   Dr. Candace Schaefer
         Fredericksburg Clinic
         12345 Anabel Place
         Fredericksburg, TX 77840

         Dear Dr. Schaefer:
         We are happy to inform you that your
         dissertation has been approved.

         We want you to know how pleased we are.

         Yours truly,
         Willie B. Nelson

         Willie B. Nelson
                                   1111 Bovary Drive
Modified                        Plainview, TX 79072
                                 December 28, 2005
Block      Dr. Candace Schaefer
Format     Fredericksburg Clinic
           12345 Anabel Place
           Fredericksburg, TX 77840

           Dear Dr. Schaefer:
           We are happy to inform you that your
           dissertation has been approved.

           We want you to know how pleased we are.

                                 Yours truly,

                                 Willie B. Nelson

                                 Willie B. Nelson
                                              1111 Bovary Drive
Modified Block                             Plainview, TX 79072
                                            December 28, 2005
Format with
             Dr. Candace Schaefer
Indented     Fredericksburg Clinic
             12345 Anabel Place
Paragraphs Fredericksburg, TX 77840
                   Dear Dr. Schaefer:

                           We are happy to inform you that
                   your dissertation has been approved.

                             We want you to know how pleased
                   we are.
                                           Yours truly,

                                           Willie B. Nelson

                                               Willie B. Nelson
Memos
Memos, or memorandum, have
traditionally been written to an
in-house reader.

Memos always begin with a header that
includes TO, FROM, SUBJECT (or RE
for Regarding), and DATE. Sometimes
other elements are included, such as
ACTION or XC.

Memos never have a signature at
the bottom.

Senders initial next to their names in the
FROM line.
Emails
Emails were originally modeled after
memos, so they have an automatic TO,
FROM, SUBJECT, DATE area.
Many people add a personalized
signature to emails. Make sure it is
professional and includes all your
contact information.
Consider it a letterhead.
For professional or school purposes, use
a professional email address, e.g.
johndoe@tamu.edu. and NOT
doehunter@tamu.edu.
        Memo and Email Format
To:              Candace Schaefer
From:            Willie B. Nelson
Date:            December 18, 2005
Subject:         Telephone Skills Seminar
Ref:             Vice President—letter 11/14/06
CC:              Consultants
Action required: Learn to answer telephone
                 intelligently by January 15, 2007
                   3 Basic Parts
Opening: Provides context and makes the writer’s purpose
known.

Development: Provides details, evidence, and data.

Closing: Provides context, emphasizes main points, and
gives information about further contact or action.
Keep It Simple and Readable
The introduction should be explicit and clear at
the outset:
   Who you are
   Why you are writing
   What you want

Remind your reader of the context for your
correspondence. Don’t rely on memory!
How Do You Rate
This Opening Line?
Employee review procedures
are currently being reviewed
to ensure compliance with
Texas law.
Establish the Context
You recently asked for an update on
employee review procedures. I have
analyzed them and have determined
they do comply with Texas law.

Make sure any points you want to
emphasize are up front.

Think about how readers skim.
Tone
Keep an even, respectful tone.

Project yourself as reasonable,
objective, and professional.

This does not mean you cannot
show passion or enthusiasm, but
never do so at anyone else’s expense.
Appropriate Tone
Allow more time for designing
messages that may arise from
sensitive issues.

Anticipate the effects of negative
or unwelcome information.

Analyze the reader as carefully as
possible before writing.
Appropriate Tone
Read the correspondence aloud
and listen to the sound.
Be as positive as possible.
Avoid any phrases that suggest the
reader is . . .
   • careless
   • unintelligent
   • lying
Btw can’t w8 2 cu lol
Not appropriate formal
correspondence:
  Instant Messaging language
   Emoticons
  Spelling errors
  Exclamation points
  Slang
Avoid Vagueness

    A recommendation or suggestion needs
    to be accompanied by a reason.

    A generalization needs to be clarified and
    made more specific.

    Stay concise. If details must be presented,
    use exhibits.
Provide Details, Evidence, & Data

Better performance? Provide the numbers!




Recommend firing? Include specific
incidents or reviews of employee
performance!

Claim you can do the job? Provide proof of
what you have done!
Comment on This

Sean has the ability to do the job
and will be a responsible and
mature employee with a strong
work ethic. I have no hesitation in
recommending him for any job
which requires people skills.
Give Evidence for the Claims
Sean has an excellent attendance record and
rarely takes sick leave. He has led his team on a
number of important projects, the most recent
being a revision of the department’s policy and
procedures manual. Primarily because of Sean’s
suggestions, it now has numbered sections and
is more readable. Two of his team members told
me that if it weren’t for Sean, the project would
have stalled.
This Isn’t an Essay
Summarize only if the issues
are lengthy or complex.

Provide information for
follow-up or action.

Thank your readers for their
time, attention, etc.
   Writing Letters Can Be Dicey
• On your turn: Roll the type die and the
  recipient die
• Now Discuss: After these rolls, each group will
  have 2 minutes to answer these questions.
  1. Under what circumstances would you write
     this letter?
  2. Have you ever written a letter like this?
  3. Using what you have learned, what would you
     need to keep in mind?
 Don’t Forget

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posted:10/14/2011
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