Key No. 9

Recipe for a Memorandum, Letter, Fax and e-mail

Highlight important details and provoke action.




As in the case of a report it is necessary in a memorandum or letter to capture the attention of the reader, to highlight the important details and to provoke action. The information must be transmitted clearly and the content made interesting and easy to absorb. A memorandum or letter is usually the initiation or part of an on-going communication link between author and the reader.

The contents of the writing should be based on the questioning technique guidelines given in Key No.7 and should be capsulated and summarised as necessary. Careful editing should then follow to ensure that the objective in relation to the subject matter is dealt with correctly and precisely and that the continuity is maintained between one communication and the next. Ideally a memorandum or letter should be brief and limited to one page if possible. Take this page as an example.

Next the layout and presentation should receive careful consideration. The typefaces, line spaces, margins, etc. should be selected to facilitate the reader, and monotonous blocks of text should be avoided.

The following items are generally the main ingredients of a memorandum or letter, however, many of elements may be excluded depending on the author's intentions.


Addressee. Carbon copies, blind copies, file copy, personal file copy


From: Author


Date,   Reference No.






State the OBJECTIVE to be achieved in relation to the subject matter.


Define the ELEMENTS using the what? where? when? who? and how? questions.
Describe the DETAILS or FACTS about the elements.


Determine PURPOSE and CAUSE. Analyse the present situation using the "why" questions.


Develop OPTIONS using the "what else" questions.


Take DECISION using the "what should" questions. Make RECOMMENDATIONS or issue INSTRUCTIONS.


Initiate ACTION, define REQUIREMENTS, request FEED-BACK.


'Yours faithfully,' with Dear Sir, or Madam, and with Dear Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, etc. with surname. 'Yours sincerely' with letters to friends and acquaintances


* Formal letters

The same format should apply to company letters and faxes but in these cases company logos, headers, addresses, contact and telecommunications details, references etc. are already pre-printed on the documentation. E -mail formats, however, vary considerably.



Key Points
1. Specify Clearly The Subject Matter
2. Specify Precisely The Objective
3. Define The Elements
4. Describe The Elements
5. Determine Purpose And Cause
6. Develop Options
7. Take Decision
8. Make Recommendations or
9. Issue Instructions
10. Initiate Action
11. Request Feed-Back



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