Writing in Organizations
James P. Zappen, zappenj@rpi.edu

Organizational Memo (Individual Project)


Write an organizational memo for a decision-making audience in a large and complex organization, in response to Case 15, Farnsworth Paper Works, Page 153, Assignment 2, posted to LMS. Consider both immediate and more remote readers and the potential long-term file life of your memo. Include a heading, introduction, and summary at the beginning of your memo, and present the details of your discussion in a logical order. Include headings and topic or main-idea sentences to clarify the organization.

In your heading, include To, From, Subject, and Date information, plus courtesy copies and attachments. For the To and From lines, include both name and organizational title or role. For the Subject line, include both the topic and purpose of your memo (e.g., to present findings and recommendations).

In your introduction, include a statement of the organizational issue or problem, your technical work completed in response to this issue or problem, and your reason for writing, with more than one reason, if appropriate (e.g., "to present my test results and my recommendations"). Write the statement of the organizational issue from the point of view of the decision maker, not just your own, or include both points of view. In your summary, present your principal findings or conclusions and your recommendations or requests (if any) and include an overview of the organization of your discussion (e.g. "our proposal meets professional standards, performance, and cost criteria").

In the body of your discussion, establish a logical order (e.g., test method, test results, discussion of test results, etc.), and place each component of the discussion in a separate section or paragraph (test method in one section, test results in another, etc.). Use headings to clarify the organization, and begin each section and each paragraph with a topic or main-idea sentence. For your topic sentences, do not just point ahead to the information that follows (e.g., "this section presents my results"). Instead, present your principal conclusions or findings (e.g., "the results show that the design meets the criteria of efficiency and cost").

Use Writing Guidelines: Organizational Memo as a guide to your writing. If you include text that is not your own (e.g., text that you have found in print or on the web), please place that text in quotation marks and include a full citation, using a standard format from the American Psychological Association, The Chicago Manual of Style (see the Quick Guide), or the Modern Language Association.

Your organizational memo is due Friday, February 18, 6:00 p.m. Please post your memo in .doc, .docx, or .pdf in your public_html directory and make a link to it from your Writing in Organizations Web Page or email it to me directly at zappenj@rpi.edu.

Sample Organizational Memos:

Wastewater Treatment Procedure, with bottom line last (posted to LMS).

State of Chaos, lacking context, introduction, summary, logical organization, headings, topic sentences, etc. (posted to LMS)

Orange Grove Products Memo (posted to LMS)

Noise Control Engineering Original and Revision (posted to LMS)

Class Exercises:

Exercise 1: Write an introduction, summary, and main-idea sentences for Case 13, Phototherapy Room, Page 135, Assignment (posted to LMS).

Exercise 2: Write a summary and a complete topic-sentence outline for the Noise Control Engineering and WSU Guardrail Evaluation reports (posted to LMS).

Exercise 3: Write a summary and main-idea or topic-sentence outline for Case 14, Vacuum Freeze Dryer, Page 139, Assignment 1 (posted to LMS). Please email me your completed assignment at zappenj@rpi.edu.

Latest Update: 2011-02-10

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