5. WRITING EFFECTIVELY
Writing is a basic management skill. Being able to write well makes you more useful to your organisation and improves your chances of promotion. Writing badly can be costly. It can lead to wrong decisions, to confusion and irreparable damage being done to your reputation. A clear, concise, logical and unified message written in plain English helps the reader to understand and, thus, enables them to make decisions and take actions on the basis of the information and so exercise their democratic rights as citizens.
Characteristics of good business writing
Emphasis in this area is on editing so that your writing style is suitable for middle management administrative writing. Good business writing is usually not so individualistic, such as writing poems, good business writing has the same characteristics. It is:
Many factors affect readability, such as:
To help make your writing clear, use words that are familiar to your reader. Some examples are shown in Figure 5.1.
Figure 5.1 Unfamiliar words
Source: Galvin, Prescott and Huseman, 1992, p. 86.
Avoid technical jargon.
Technical terms have a precise meaning, specific to a particular subject or organisation. They are useful when you write to an informed reader who understands the precise meaning of the term. Only use these when your reader is informed and understands the technical meaning. Avoid them when you are dealing with an uninformed reader who may simply ‘turn off’ or become ‘worried’ by the information. A computer salesperson who writes to a computer-illiterate person: ‘It’s a PS/2 Model 8 with dual FDD and an 80 meg ESDI HD’ will surely fail to communicate.
Technical terms used in an unsuitable context can exclude the reader from understanding and sharing important ideas. When you use technical terms, use them to help your reader understand rather than to show how clever or superior you are as a writer.
Avoid useless repetition.
Sometimes we repeat ideas for effect – to impress them on the reader’s mind. Television advertisements contain many repetitions of a product’s name so that we will not forget it. When you write, you can deliberately repeat ideas to create a rhetorical effect.
But do not make the careless mistake of uselessly repeating the same idea as in these sentences:
å The two cares were exactly identical. (exactly)
å His pay raise was small in size. (in size)
å If you can not use the new facsimile, return it back to me. (back)
Repeat ideas for effect, not because you forgot to proof-read. The words in parentheses can be omitted from each sentence with no loss of understanding.
Avoid wordy expressions.
Wordy expressions are simply dead weight in a sentence. Many sentences beginning with ‘There are’, ‘It is’, or ‘There is’ are wordy sentences. Figure 5.2 illustrates how you can say the same thing without phrases that make your sentences begin slowly.
Figure 5.2 Wordy expressions and slow starting sentences
Wordy phrases are dead weight, no matter where they appear in your sentences.
Consider the following examples:
A long period of time A long time (or two weeks)
At the present time Now (or the date of writing)
Consensus of opinion Consensus
Due to the fact that Because
During the month of November During November
For the purpose of For
In many cases Often
In some cases Sometimes
In the near future Soon
The majority of Most
On the occasion of On
I personally I
In the event that If
With reference to About
Avoid trite phrases.
Trite words and phrases are worn out, commonplace expressions. Because they are overused, trite phrases have lost their meaning. They too are dead weight in your sentences, and can reduce your credibility as a writer. Although some trite phrases can be simply deleted from a sentence, others have fresher replacements.
Here are some examples:
Enclosed please find Enclosed is
Numerous and sundry Many
Permit me to say
It has come to my attention I have learned
Under separate cover Separately
Please be advised
Up to this writing Until now
In accordance with your request As you requested
Avoid words that are too general.
Galvin, et al, (1992) states that words that are too general leave readers unsure of what is being said. By using words that are as specific as possible we can help readers create the images that we want in their minds.
For example, if we say ‘A vehicle was parked at the kerb’, the reader is not sure just what kind of vehicle we mean – truck, bus, car or other vehicle. To create a more vivid image for the reader, we should move from the general to the specific. Thus to say ‘A Pajero was parked at the kerb’ conveys a much clearer picture.
Here are some examples of vague, general expressions and more effective specific language:
The length of your sentences affects your readability. If sentences are long people tend to forget the beginnings before they get to the ends. Apart from sentence length, writing is usually clear and easy to read if both sentences and paragraphs are:
Coherent- coherent sentences and paragraphs are understandable because they ‘stick together’. Four devices for improving paragraph coherence are:
Notice how each ‘parallel’ option correctly completes the ‘root’ sentence.
Linking words – linking words such as also and in addition are used to join sentences, but also as transition words linking paragraphs. Linking words are extremely important because they articulate the logical relationships between bits of information and ideas. Compare the differences in clarity and coherence in the following sentences about the risks of transporting nuclear materials.
Nuclear powerstations themselves are solidly built. The containers used for the transport of nuclear materials are not.
Although the powerstations themselves are solidly built, the containers used for transport of nuclear materials are not.
Another use for linking words is to express explicitly the writer’s attitude. Thus the sentence above can be modified to:
Although the powerstations themselves are solidly built, unfortunately the containers used for transport of nuclear material are not.
You will want to own a Dynamic clothes dryer for several reasons. Firstly, it costs only 9 cents for the average load. Secondly, it has a one-year guarantee on all parts. And thirdly, the Dynamic comes in three brilliant colours – harvest gold, fresh green and sunflower yellow.
You will want to own a Dynamic clothes dryer for several reasons:
Cost – only 9 cents for the average load.
Guarantee – one year on all parts.
Colours – three brilliant colours: harvest gold, fresh green and sunflower yellow.
OUTLINING - is a convenient way to group ideas together, and organise paragraphs and groups of paragraphs into a logical arrangement. This ensures that your ideas are well organised from the start. Use the AIDA technique in the case of sending a persuasive message.
2. Appropriateness- the best business writing gets results because the writer has accurately assessed a unique situation and written appropriately. It is generally appropriate to write in a style that is:
This technique creates a stronger feeling that something is happening because the subject and the action are held together in the structure of the sentence. The sentence ‘The taxi was hailed by Jane’ is passive voice because the subject of the sentence ‘taxi’ is the passive receiver of the action ‘was hailed’. Overuse of passive voice can create sluggishness. Compare the following sentences in both active and passive voice.
Figure 5.3 Active and passive voice.
Source: Dwyer, 1993, p.205.
Compare these messages:
When writing in business, you want to create as positive a climate as possible. Thus, avoid using ‘negative’ words such as delay, cannot, impossible, inconvenience, and trouble as long as this does not make your writing obscure or sound evasive and insincere.
You can demean readers in several ways by:
a. Unwitting put-downs,
b. Categorising them,
c. Using an accusatory or judgmental tone, and
d. Using sexist language.
We and I You
We have mailed a cheque. You will receive your cheque in the mail.
Our savings accounts pay You will earn 6 per cent interest from
6 per cent interest. Your savings account.
I want to express my Thank you for your help with …
Use non-discriminatory language
Linguistic discrimination in communication is a style of writing or speaking which gives preference to the masculine form (sexist) or belittles people with other cultural backgrounds (racist). It is a style which needs to be eliminated from workplace communication (Bendeich, 1997, p. 88).
Despite an increased participation by women in government, public life and the workforce, linguistic discrimination (sexist language) still exists. Gender-specific language fails to reflect the role that women play and the status that they hold in society.
The choice of language often carries hidden meanings and can be offensive and demeaning to those who are discriminated against. Sexist language is one way in which one gender is given more prominence and importance in a written document. Some strategies suggested by Dwyer, (1993) for removing sexism in language are:
å Avoid the use of male-dominated terms to describe occupations or roles that are shared by both men and women, for example, ‘chairman’.
å Eliminate the unnecessary mention of a person’s gender for example, ‘lady doctor’
or ‘female engineer’.
å When using a pronoun to refer to an individual whose gender is not specified, avoid simply using the male pronoun ‘he’. Either restructure the sentence to avoid the pronoun or to make the sentence plural, or simply use the plural pronoun ‘they’ even when a single person is referred to. The Macquarie Student Writers Guide suggests this approach.
Non-discriminatory, inclusive language includes all readers. Readers are invited to take action on the basis of the information provided. Even if your organisation is currently female-dominated, as in nursing, or male-dominated, as in engineering, changing attitudes and trends in education mean that women and men are working in all industries. Resentment and communication barriers can occur when language is addressed exclusively to one sex. It is discriminatory.
Figure 5.4 Discriminatory language
Source: Dwyer, 1993, 9. 206.
3. Mechanically soundwritten material is free of:
Correct grammar enhances understanding and credibility. Format refers to the physical arrangement of the written material.
The mechanics of writing are the technical aspects of what we write. They are the finishing touches we put to our documents which help to communicate our message as clearly, quickly, effortlessly and pleasantly as possible. Two of the main reference sources for ensuring our communications are mechanically sound are the good old dictionary and a thesaurus.
You can add polish and professionalism to written workplace documents by knowing how to express numbers, when to capitalise, and when abbreviations are acceptable and when they are not. Improve your skills and learn how to extend your vocabulary so that you can choose just the right word to convey exactly what you want to say and be sure that it has been spelt correctly.
Write a set of instructions for each of the following:
a. how to start a car
b. how to evacuate your building in an emergency
c. how to use the yellow pages
d. how to use a library catalogue
Show your instructions to another student or friend. Seek feedback to see if they understand your instructions. Is there relevant information missing? Check your work against the writing characteristics described in this session.
Bendeich, (1997) mentions that business letters are formal written communications through which an exchange of information takes place between business organisations and their clients, customers, suppliers, service providers and statutory authorities.
This exchange may take place by the traditional transmission through Australia Post, via a document exchange network established for professions who have regular interchanges of communication with one another, or transmitted electronically by fax or through a computer network.
Letters are often the only contact a business has with its clients so their presentation and style should represent the organisation'’ professionalism, client-focus and standards of excellence.
Along with the strategies for better productivity like Best Practice, Total Quality Management, Benchmarking and Work Teams, a client-focuses approach to communication has seen a move away form bureaucratic or archaic language to plain English.
The traditional typed letter has almost disappeared into oblivion. With the advent of word processing, document creators are aware of he importance of appearance and individuality in the preparation of business letters.
The modern business letter has a specific purpose, incites the receiver to read it and encourages action on it. It is clear, concise and courteous, attractive and attention-getting in appearance, accurate in detail, consistent in style, with information well spaced and appropriately presented.
6.1 Good news and neutral letters
Despite the ever-growing use of telephones, facsimile machines and other electronic media, letters will continue to play a crucial role in the conduct of business. Letters provide the most personal contact that much of the public has with business organisations and governmental agencies.
As such, modern managers are expected to be able to write cohesive letters, and they should be able to write them quickly. It is not easy to write effective letters quickly, but it can be simplified through a systematic approach.
In many letters you will be transmitting either good news or routine, neutral information to the reader. In this type of letter you are either complying with or requesting routine information, so the reader is unlikely to be displeased with your message. Therefore, you should get straight to the main point and then provide the secondary details.
This way of ordering ideas is variously called ‘descending order of importance’, ‘direct’ or ‘deductive’ arrangement. You will notice we use this order throughout our coverage of good news and neutral letters.
The good news and neutral letters approach is most appropriate for the following types of letters:
Standard components of a business letter
Although letters may differ in appearance, they are similar in the basic parts they include. The reader has certain information needs that the following components are intended to satisfy:
Figure 6.1.1 Full-block style
Thus, using an acceptable letter format is an important part of creating an effective company image. Companies differ somewhat in the formats they use. In general, writers use single spaces within the parts of a letter and double spaces between the parts. Some organisations provide employees with a manual or style sheet prescribing a certain style.
The two main styles of letter placement are:
1. Full-block- every line begins at the left margin.
The following guidelines provided by Galvin, et al, (1992, pp. 116-123) will offer you a basis for establishing your own techniques. Remember, good news and neutral letters should be direct, specific and complete.
When you order something the process is simplified if you have a company order form. When you do not have one you should follow the good news and neutral letter plan.
ORDER LETTER GUIDE
Figure 6.1.2 Order letter guide
When making a routine claim you should write n the assumption that a reasonable person would say ‘yes’ to your request so you should use a direct sequence of ideas. Tell the reader immediately the actions you are seeking and the reasons for the request. If your request is unusual, however, sometimes it may be more appropriate to write a persuasive letter.
Example 6.1 An effective claim letter
ROUTINE CLAIM GUIDE
Figure 6.1.3 Routine claim guide
Approving adjustments on claims
Timing is important with adjustment letters. An adjustment that you can approve is an excellent opportunity to improve public relations as long as you respond quickly. A prompt letter will make you look good, whereas a slow response could be taken to indicate that you are not customer-oriented and only interested in profits.
Example 6.2 A good adjustment letter:
Sometimes a customer seeks to register a complaint or make a suggestion rather than request a specific adjustment. In such cases the writer should apologise, show that appropriate action would be taken and seek further business.
ADJUSTMENT APPROVAL GUIDE
Figure 6.1.4 Adjustment approval guide
Granting routine requests
Directness is a desirable characteristic in any good news or neutral letter. When you can say ‘Yes’ to a request made by another, you should do so enthusiastically. Since it is the answer that the reader is hoping for, you should say it immediately. Set his or her mind at rest as quickly as possible.
REQUEST RESPONSE GUIDE
Figure 6.1.5 Request response guide
Write appropriate letters to:
6.2 Letters of refusal
Successful business organisations are besieged with numerous written requests, ranging from the acceptable to the extremely unreasonable. Whatever the merit of a request, you must respond to it with restraint and with an interest in keeping the goodwill of the person making the request.
Therefore, every letter of refusal has an important public relations function:
EVERY BUSINESS LETTER IS A SALES LETTER
While good news is transmitted most effectively in a direct manner, bad news should be presented indirectly. Denying a writer’s request is not easy. A direct turndown early in a letter often results in the reader not reading any further and thus remaining unaware of the logical reasons for the refusal.
If possible, the writer of the letter of refusal should point out how the reader may benefit from the refusal or suggest alternatives. A key to writing successful letters of refusal is to know the facts of the situation. A writer can develop a line of reasoning that the receiver is likely to understand and accept. The most common types of refusal letters are adjustment and credit refusals.
You are denying a request considered to be reasonable by the customer. This is a delicate process, for the writer is implying that the request, viewed by the customer as reasonable, actually is not.
As with all letters of refusal two main purposes exist:
By maintaining a positive relationship with customers, the adjustment-refusal writer will usually be able to retain their business. A poorly written adjustment refusal can irritate and frustrate the reader.
Dwyer, (1993) states that a genuine adjustment is a justified request to change, replace or make an adjustment to a transaction that has already taken place. Examples may include requests to replace damaged goods or missing parts, to replace an incomplete order or to correct an error on an account. An adjustment refusal is given when the organisation believes that the request for an adjustment is unjustified, that the problem was no caused by the organisation or that a problem does not exist.
ADJUSTMENT REFUSAL GUIDE
Figure 6.2.1 Adjustment refusal guide
Source: Galvin, 1992, p. 134.
When dealing with someone who has already received a written refusal and explanation, yet persists in requesting an adjustment, a writer may find the direct approach suitable for a second letter. When the reader ignores the first ‘indirect’ letter in which an adjustment is refused and simply repeats the request, the writer is justified in becoming more to the point.
Denying a person credit while keeping that person’s business is a challenge to the writer of credit refusals. Many people today regard credit as a right that cannot be denied them. These attitudes complicate the task facing the writer.
When denying credit, strive to sell the reader on becoming a cash customer. Other common reasons may be that the applicant has too small or too unsteady an income or, perhaps, no credit experience upon which to base a decision or, the applicant has spent too little time at one address. The most usual request for credit and, therefore, the most usual credit refusal is for a loan or for a credit card. Rather than view this type of letter as a denial of credit, the writer might use it to convince the applicant to become a cash customer or to pay COD (cash on delivery).
Credit Refusal Guide
Figure 6.2.2 Credit refusal guide
Source: Galvin, 1992, p. 136.
Steps in transmitting bad news
Following these steps will help ensure an effective letter.
6.2.1. Write a letter of refusal to:
6.2.2 To correct and rewrite a claim letter.
Rewrite the following claim letter to Specific Electronics Australia.
Use your own address.
6.3 PERSUASIVE LETTERS
A business correspondent should be able to persuade others through letters. The most common types of persuasive correspondence, that can readily illustrate the key aspects of persuasive letter writing are sales and collection letters.
Sales letters use the same technique and order of information as other persuasive letters. The practice you get in selling ideas and courses of action in sales letters should help you to become more effective in other areas of persuasion. They aim to motivate the reader to act by gaining attention and interest which leads to desire and action.
To achieve this, you need to know what you want to sell, the nature of the target group who will buy the service or product, and your competitors. The AIDA formula is again useful in ordering the information in a sales letter – see Figure 6.3.1.
Sales letters generally fall into two categories, solicited and unsolicited; as do letters of application when selling yourself for future employment.
This type of sales letter is easier to write because the receiver had previously expressed interest in the product, sought further information, or made a specific enquiry.
Most people are not really interested in reading an unsolicited sales letter. That makes writing this type challenging because you have to stimulate a relatively uninterested reader.
It is important to become completely familiar with a product, idea or service before trying to write a sales letter. You must know:
Become familiar with the intended customers.
You need to appeal to the interests of the reader for the resulting letter to be effective. Often a sales letter is mailed to thousands of prospective buyers. For such letters it is worthwhile to devote much effort to finding out the nature of the intended readers, such as:
For example, if you are trying to attract customers for a lawn-care service, the letter will be geared to home owners who live in the suburbs.
You must work out exactly how the physical characteristics and capabilities of the product will benefit the reader. The physical characteristics of a certain brand of running shoes are a combination of lightweight rubber, canvas and colour. The benefits to the owner of such shoes, however, might be these kinds of factors:
It is the benefits, or ‘psychological’ features, that convince the reader to buy. Your letter has to make your customer perceive the BENEFITS of your product.
Steps for effective sales letters
Whether you are selling an idea, a product or a course of action, using the AIDA formula has proven to be effective:
Figure 6.3.1 Writing strategy for a sales letter.
Unless the first sentence of a sales letter attracts the reader’s attention, the reader will probably discard the letter. One way to accomplish this is to identify one of the most significant features of the product you are trying to sell. If possible, suggest how the reader stands to benefit from using the product.
Some of the more common methods used are:
An opening is more likely to attract attention if it is written in an original manner. The reader is also more likely to continue reading if the opening paragraph is short - a maximum length of eight lines is recommended.
Present what the reader will view as the major benefit of the product that you seek to sell.
Relate the product to the reader rather than to the writer (use a ‘YOU’ orientation).
Write an original opening statement. Make the first paragraph interesting enough to appeal to the reader and so short that the reader will have to read subsequent paragraphs to get the important details.
Figure 6.3.2 Attention-getting guide
There should be a natural link between the attention seeking step and the interest step. The main purpose of the interest section is to make the reader want the product. You are striving for an ‘I think I would like to have that’ reaction. Also during this stage you should start to emphasise the reward(s) to be derived from the product rather than the actual product. Instead of selling the reader a lawnmower, stress the good feelings associated with having an attractive lawn. In this way the reader goes beyond the product to the pleasure experienced from its use. In the interest step, therefore, you are both describing the product and suggesting value to the reader.
The writer should also emphasise a central selling point throughout the letter. For example, the writer of a sales letter for a correspondence course tried to stimulate interest in this way:
Attention: You do not need a university degree to get a good job.
In this example, Galvin, et al (1992) states that the writer used the availability of jobs as a central selling point. If you have successfully stimulated the reader’s interest, that interest may now be changing to a desire for the product.
The desire section should make the reader feel a need for the product. The writer should move the reader from the ‘like to have that’ category to the ‘really want that’ position. Emotional appeals will apply to the feelings of the receiver; while logical appeals will apply to the receiver’s thinking abilities. By relying on an appropriate appeal, the writer helps readers justify the desire for the product.
The action close should indicate the specific action the reader should take. If you want the reader to complete the enclosed form and mail it in, say so as specifically as possible. Nutting and White (1991) suggest using the last two or three sentences in the letter to help readers see exactly what you are asking of them. The best endings use direct, active language, and the theme should be one of action or activity.
Styles will vary according to how strongly you wish to stress the desired outcome. You may:
Sales Letter Guide
Begin with a brief statement with a question likely to attract Attention.
Be sure that the opening statement is clearly related to the product being offered.
Gain the reader’s Interest by emphasising a central selling point likely to appeal to the reader.
In the Desire section you should try to develop a need within the reader by providing additional evidence of the value of the product. Also remind the reader of the central selling point.
Minimise resistance to the price by de-emphasising it. Mention some of the strong points of the product while referring to price.
Indicate briefly and specifically what the reader should do, and restate the reasons the reader should take the desired Action.
Figure 6.3.3 Sales letter guide
An effective collection letter will collect an overdue payment and still maintain the customer’s goodwill. This is one of the most difficult letters to write. Building up a business through advertising and public relations is costly and all that hard work should not be jeopardised through offensive letters of demand.
The underlying reason for collection problems is that companies do extend credit. If a business offers no credit it has no collection problems, although, this inevitably leads to a decline in profits and sales. Some collection problems are due to a misunderstanding of the terms of the credit agreement. Although, by taking greater care in explaining the operation of a charge account, companies can prevent some future collection problems.
Dwyer (1993) suggests the types of appeals suited to collection letters are appeals to fair play, co-operation, reputation, pride and self-interest. Each of these demonstrates that the desired action is reasonable and in the best interests of the reader. Positive appeals focus on co-operation, fair play and pride, whereas negative appeals focus on self-interest, for example, losing a credit rating. The positive appeal is the one that is most likely to get the desired response and lead to effective relationships between the organisation and the reader.
Give consideration to the:
A number of letters may be written to collect money from those who are slow to pay. Some organisations break the collection process into four stages:
Sometimes, if the client has been an old-established and regular paying customer, the client may receive a letter which reads this way:
Perhaps you have overlooked this month’s account. The amount is $97. If you have paid it, please ignore this notice.
J Scott & Sons
TO REMIND YOU YOUR INSTALMENT IS OVERDUE
We have lapses of memory. We would appreciate your adjusting your account for $97 by the next closing date.
J Scott & Sons
Maybe you are having some financial problems. We would appreciate some discussion with you about your outstanding account enclosed. If we do not hear from you, please finalise the account by ...
J Scott & Sons
As no attempt has been made to finalise your account, the matter will be handed to our solicitors on ...They will commence proceedings for the debt.
J Scott & Sons
After final notice
LEGAL ACTION ADVICE NOTICE
We are requested to collect your debt for $97. To avoid court and collection costs the full amount is required by the plaintiff by return. If no action is taken by you, it will be assumed you have no intention to pay.
Or, on a less familiar note:
I have noticed your account is now three months overdue.
If you are experiencing some financial difficulties, would you please ring me on extension 246 and arrangements can be made to discuss the matter further with you.
If no reply is received, the ‘After Final Notice’ is sent.
Write a letter suitable for distribution in suburban letterboxes. You are the proprietor of Speedy Cycle Centre and you are now marketing a new lightweight bicycle which is ideal for city riding. Point out the advantages to be gained in bicycling for either business or pleasure, and stress the qualities of the machine. Recent tests made by cycle experts have shown the model to be maneuverable and speedy, but steady. It is economical and spares are readily available.
A memorandum is a written message for use within an organisation. In some organisations memos are handwritten or typed and circulated by an internal mail system. In others they are keyed into a computer and distributed electronically. Either way, memos have a vital role in a business’ internal communication system. They can help to keep the various parts of organisations in touch with each other. The memo is the most widely used form of written communication within organisations.
Every organisation has to try to find an appropriate balance between written and oral communications. If too little is written down an organisation can lose its sense of identity and purpose. On the other hand, putting too much in writing is equally counterproductive.
Effective written communication is vital for both your organisation and you. Without accurate and well written communication there is no way that management can accomplish the coordination necessary for smooth operation.
By providing this written information you can establish a reputation for efficiency and effectiveness with people in upper management. In this way well written memoranda and reports may very well build your reputation and pave the way to promotion.
Memoranda have advantages over spoken messages when:
Preparation of memoranda format
The memorandum format as already stated is intended to ensure consistency in internal communication. In order to guarantee consistency most organisations provide employees with pre-printed forms that contain a basic memo format which reads as follows:
By providing such formats, a company can ensure that certain types of information will always appear in the same places on all memos. It is easier to find and read a particular memo in a file if all the memos are uniform in the placement of this information.
Memos vary considerably in length. Some are brief, perhaps no more than a few sentences, while others may be three or four pages long. Because the memo is seen as less formal than the letter and is designated for internal use only, some writers do not take much care when preparing memos. Memos often generate further communication and this is easier if point form has been used.
Memos are used for many routine purposes:
Source: Dwyer, 1993, p. 321.
To: All Staff
From: Elaine Thomas
Date: 12 May 1993
Subject: Operating instructions for New Copying Machines
a. What is a memorandum?
b. What are the advantages of the memo?
c. Give two examples of routine memos.
Use your organisation’s memo format correctly.
State your purpose clearly. A memo should not leave the reader wondering why it was written. Present only relevant information. Unless information is related to the purpose of the memo, it should not be included.
Organise your thoughts. Work from the most important to the least important idea. Present them in point form so that readers can easily follow the message.
If the memo is longer than a page, divide it into sections to aid the reader in retaining the main points.
Tell readers exactly what you want them to do next. If this is in your last point they may well do it before they put your memo down.
Figure 6.4.1 Memorandum guide
To compose various memoranda.
Compose memoranda on all of the following topics.
A. You have worked a considerable amount of overtime at Bourdon, Swanson & Associates without extra pay or using flexi-time. Christmas is coming and you would like to take several days off consecutively in lieu of pay.
B. You would like to know the dates of your annual vacation, as you are planning an overseas trip.
C. You have spent some of your own money on stationery requisites and morning tea foodstuffs for several visitors to the office. The amount is about $30 altogether, and you would like to be repaid as you are planning to go away for Christmas.