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Writing Memos, E-Mails and Internal Documents

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Writing Memos, E-Mails and Internal Documents

This topic teaches students about the characteristics of effective memoranda in professional settings, and begins to provide students with experience in writing effective memos of their own. Students learn how to write clearly and concisely, in ways that are likely to maintain the attention of their audience.

Topic Learning Outcome:  Upon completing this topic, students will understand the key objectives of memo-writing and will be familiar with the characteristics of an effective memo. Students will also be able to compose clear, concise memoranda of their own.  

Recommended Reading List: 

Behn, Robert D., (2012 August 18), Craft of Memo Writing.

Retrieved from:,%20Robert%20Behn,%202012.pdf

Harvard Kennedy School. (2009, May 19), Raising the non- Resident Income Tax, Example for a Memorandum.

Retrieved from:,%20HKS,%202009.pdf

Harvard Kennedy School. (2009, May 19), Checklist for Writing Action Memorandum.

Retrieved from:,%20HKS,%202009.pdf

Stark, S., The Sixteen Rules of Writing Email.

Retrieved from:,%20Steven%20Stark,%20from%20HKS,%202012.pdf

Sample Assessment Questions:

1.)   What are the most important characteristics of a good memo? In one page, discuss what you view as the most important features of a strong memo that is likely to produce action.

2.)   Write a one-page memo recommending a specific action in response to a policy problem or issue of your choosing. Your memo will be graded on the clarity of your writing as well as the strength of the argument that you make.

Page Created By: Ben Eisen, April 27, 2015.

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School of Public Policy and Governance