The formal report’s scenario will be that the company you are working for has decided to do business globally and has started working  with country X(could be any) .  You have been asked to do research and find out how country X conducts business.  You must address how the country views teamwork, setting up appointments, expectations at meetings, negotiating, body language, business dinners, concept of time, and any other topic that interests you about country X.  For this formal report, you must site your sources and include a reference page.  Remember this is not due until week 9.  A good website to go to is www.executiveplanet.comHere is what it needs in report:Introduction: The introduction of a report serves a number of important functions: 1. putting the report in a broader context by tying it to a problem or an assignment 2. telling readers the report’s purpose 3. previewing the report’s contents and organization 4. establishing the tone of the report and the writer’s relationship with the audience Body: The body of the report follows the introduction. It consists of the major sections or chapters (with various levels of headings) that present, analyze, and interpret the findings gathered as part of your investigation.  The body of your report should be approximately 3-5 single spaced pages.  One of the decisions to make when writing the body of your report is how much detail to include. Your decision depends on the nature of your information, the purpose of your report, and the preferences of your audience. In general, provide enough detail in the body to support your conclusions and recommendations. Source documentation: When writing the text of the report, you need to decide how to acknowledge your sources. You have an ethical and a legal obligation to give other people credit for their work. Acknowledging your sources also enhances the credibility of your report. By citing references in the text, you demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the topic. Mentioning the names of well-known or important authorities on the subject also helps build credibility for your message. In fact, it’s often a good idea to mention a credible source’s name several times if you need to persuade the audience.Seventh Edition
The Basics
George J. Searles
Mohawk Valley Community College
Boston Columbus Indianapolis New York San Francisco
Amsterdam Cape Town Dubai London Madrid Milan
Munich Paris Montreal Toronto Delhi Mexico City São Paulo Sydney
Hong Kong Seoul Singapore Taipei Tokyo
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To Ellis
Senior Acquisitions Editor: Brad Potthoff
Product Marketing Manager: Jennifer Edwards
Project Manager: Shannon Kobran
Program Manager: Katharine Glynn
Project Coordination, Text Design, and
   Electronic Page Makeup: SPi-Global
Media Editor: Kelsey Loveday
Design Lead: Beth Paquin
Cover Designer: Studio Montage
Cover Art: Kzenon/Fotolia, Mark Adams/123RF,
  Wavebreak Media Ltd./123RF
Senior Manufacturing Buyer: Roy L. Pickering, Jr.
Printer/Binder: Edwards Brothers
Cover Printer: Lehigh-Phoenix Color/Hagerstown
Acknowledgments of third-party content appear below or on the appropriate page within the text.
PEARSON, ALWAYS LEARNING, and MYWRITINGLAB are exclusive trademarks owned by Pearson Education, Inc. or its
affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.
Unless otherwise indicated herein, any third-party trademarks that may appear in this work are the property of their
respective owners and any references to third-party trademarks, logos, or other trade dress are for demonstrative or descriptive purposes only. Such references are not intended to imply any sponsorship, endorsement, authorization, or promotion
of Pearson’s products by the owners of such marks, or any relationship between the owner and Pearson Education, Inc., or
its affiliates, authors, licensees, or distributors.
Photo credits. Pg. 46: Arcady/Fotolia, Chrisdorney/Fotolia, Elenarts/Fotolia. Pg. 58: Peter Bull/Dorling Kindersley, Ltd.
Pg. 107: 123RF, Monkey Business/Fotolia
Text credits. Pg. 36: US Postal Service. Pgs. 49, 51: US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pg. 56: Pg. 59: Reprinted
with permission from NFPA 54-2012. Copyright 2011 National Fire Protection Association. This reprinted material is
not the complete and official position of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which is represented only by the standard in its entirety. Pg. 91: NASA. Pg. 109: Couresty of Mohawk Valley Community College. Pg. 200:
Modern Language Association. Pgs. 212, 215: United States Office of Drug Control Policy. Pg. 216: New Solutions for
Ensuring a Drug-Free Workplace. Occupational Health & Safety 71.4 (2002): 34–35. Print. p. 34. Pg. 217: Drug Testing in
the Workplace: The Challenge to Employment Relations and Employment Law, Chicago-Kent Law Review 63:3 (1987).
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Searles, George J. (George John), 1944- author.
  Workplace communications : the basics / George J. Searles, Mohawk Valley Community College.—
Seventh Edition.
  pages cm
  Includes bibliographical references and index.
  ISBN 978-0-13-412069-0
1. English language—Business English. 2. English language—Technical English. 3. Business writing—Problems, exercises,
etc. 4. Technical writing—Problems, exercises, etc. 5. Business communication—Problems, exercises, etc. 6. Commercial
correspondence—Problems, exercises, etc.  I. Title. 
  PE1479.B87S43 2016
Copyright © 2017, 2014, 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected by copyright, and permission
should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission
in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise. For information regarding permissions, request forms and the appropriate contacts within the Pearson Education Global Rights & Permissions
Department, please visit
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10—EB—19 18 17 16
Student ISBN-10:     0-13-412069-8
Student ISBN-13: 978-0-13-412069-0
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A la Carte ISBN-10:      0-13-412240-2
A la Carte ISBN-13: 978-0-13-412240-3
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Preface  viii
The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose,
Audience, and Tone   1
Purpose  2
Audience  2
Global Audience  3
Tone  6
Exercises  17
Workplace Correspondence: Memos, E-mail,
Text Messages, and Business Letters   23
Memos  24
E-mail  26
Checklist: Evaluating a Memo or E-mail   30
Text Messages  30
Checklist: Evaluating a Work-Related Text Message   32
Business Letters  32
Format  37
Checklist: Evaluating a Business Letter   42
Exercises  42
Effective Visuals: Tables, Graphs, Charts, and
Illustrations  46
Principles of Effective Visuals   47
Tables  48
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iv Contents
Graphs  49
Line Graphs  49
Bar Graphs  50
Charts  52
Flow Charts  52
Organizational Charts  53
Gantt Charts  53
Circle Charts  53
Illustrations  55
Photographs  55
Drawings  56
Diagrams  58
Checklist: Evaluating a Visual   61
Exercises 62
Short Reports: Page Design, Formats, and Types  64
Page Design  65
Report Formats: Memo, Letter, and Booklet   69
Types of Reports   69
Incident Report  70
Recommendation Report  71
Progress Report  75
Travel Report  79
Checklist: Evaluating a Memo Report   82
Exercises  82
Checklist: Evaluating a Letter Report   83
Checklist: Evaluating a Booklet Report   84
Summaries  86
Types of Summaries: Descriptive, Informative, and Evaluative   87
Summarizing Written Sources   89
Summarizing Oral Sources   90
Checklist: Evaluating a Summary   95
Exercises  96
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Fliers, Brochures, Newsletters, and Web Sites  98
Fliers  99
Checklist: Evaluating a Flier   99
Brochures  101
Checklist: Evaluating a Brochure   102
Newsletters  103
Checklist: Evaluating a Newsletter   106
Web Sites  108
Checklist: Evaluating a Web Site   111
Exercises  112
Instructions and Procedure Descriptions   113
Instructions  114
Procedure Descriptions  119
Avoiding Liability  120
Checklist: Evaluating Instructions and Procedure Descriptions   122
Exercises  122
Job Application Process: On-Line Search, Letter, Résumé,
Interview, and Follow-Up   125
Job Search  126
Application Letter  127
Résumé  130
Traditional Résumé  134
Scannable Résumé  136
Interview  139
Follow-Up  141
Checklist: Evaluating an Application Letter, Résumé, and Follow-Up   143
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Exercises  144
Oral Presentations: Preparation and Delivery  152
Preparation  153
Preliminaries  153
Rehearsal  154
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vi Contents
Delivery  154
Introductions and Conclusions   156
Vocal Factors  157
Physical Factors  157
Eye Contact  158
Presentation Aids  158
Enthusiasm  161
Evaluation of a Presentation   162
Checklist: Evaluating a Public Speaker   164
Exercises  164
Proposals  166
Solicited Proposals  167
Unsolicited Proposals  167
Internal and External Proposals   167
Formats of Proposals   168
Objectives of Proposals   168
Checklist: Evaluating a Proposal   187
Exercises  187
Long Reports: Format, Collaboration, and
Documentation  189
Identification and Evaluation of Sources   190
Books  190
Magazines  190
Newspapers  191
Academic Journals  191
Web Sites  192
Integration of Sources   193
Summary  193
Paraphrase  193
Quotation  193
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Report Format  194
Transmittal Document  194
Title Page  194
Abstract  194
Table of Contents   194
List of Illustrations   195
Glossary  195
Text  195
Visuals  195
Pagination  195
Collaboration  196
Documentation  199
Bibliography  200
Parenthetical Citations  205
Checklist: Evaluating a Long Report   219
Exercises  220
Appendix A: Ten Strategies to Improve Your Style   222
Appendix B: Review of Mechanics: Spelling, Punctuation, and
Grammar  238
Index  256
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What’s New in the Seventh Edition?
The seventh edition retains all the essential features of the earlier versions while
incorporating much new material:
• Ongoing focus on international communications
• New exercises that address cross-cultural dynamics
• Collaborative exercises in all chapters
• Coverage of work-related text messaging
• Advice on writing for Web sites and other on-line media
• Enhanced guidance about on-line job searching
• Updated model documents throughout
Hallmark Approach of Workplace Communications
Workplace Communications: The Basics originated as the solution to a problem. Semester after semester, I had searched unsuccessfully for a suitable text to use in my English 110 course, Oral and Written Communication, at Mohawk Valley Community
College. Designed as an alternative to traditional first-year composition, the course
satisfies curricular English requirements for students anticipating careers in such fields
as welding, heating and air conditioning, and electrical maintenance. As might be
expected, English 110 is a highly practical, hands-on course that meets the specialized
needs of its target audience by focusing exclusively on job-related communications.
Although some excellent texts had been written in the fields of business and
technical communication, nearly all were aimed at the university level and were
therefore quite beyond the scope of a course like English 110. Finally, I decided to fill
the gap and meet my students’ needs by creating a textbook of my own. My students
at Mohawk Valley responded enthusiastically, citing the book’s accessibility, clarity,
and pragmatic, down-to-earth emphasis as particularly appealing qualities. To my
great satisfaction, it has met with similar success at many other colleges both here
and abroad, with new editions appearing in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2014.
Short on theory, long on practical applications, and written in a simple, conversational style, it’s exceptionally user-friendly. The book is appropriate not only for
recent high school graduates but also for returning adult students and other nontraditional learners. It’s comprehensive and challenging enough for trade school and
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community college courses such as English 110 and for similar introductory-level
classes at most four-year institutions.
Like the earlier editions, this seventh edition includes many helpful features:
• Learning objectives and outlines for each chapter
• Numerous examples and sample documents based on actual workplace situations
• Useful checklists at the ends of most sections
• Realistic exercises that reflect each chapter’s focus
Instructor’s Manual. The updated Instructor’s Manual offers teaching guidelines
for each chapter, sample course outlines, keys to the exercises, and additional material. All the visuals are available at high-quality resolution to facilitate the creation
of PowerPoint slides. Please send me your comments and suggestions by e-mail to or by conventional mail to the Center for Arts & Humanities,
Mohawk Valley Community College, 1101 Sherman Drive, Utica, NY 13501.
MyTechCommLab. This supplement saves time and improves results by offering you
the best available online resources for technical communication. This dynamic, comprehensive site offers engaging and interactive content that will help you improve
the technical communication skills you will need most—writing, research, and document design. A built-in grade book allows you to track progress with a click of the
PowerPoints. PowerPoints that cover key concepts discussed in the text are available
for you to download and use in your classes.
Test Bank. Each chapter of Workplace Communications has a corresponding chapter in the Test Bank with thirty-five multiple-choice questions and six short essay
Permit me some acknowledgments. First, I thank my reviewers: Rima S. Gulshan,
George Mason University; Katherine McEwen, Cape Fear Community College;
Melissa McFarland, Central Carolina Technical College; Debbie Montgomery, Athens
Technological College; Diane Paul, Central New Mexico Community College; and
Genny Yarne, Kirkwood Community College.
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x Preface
I also thank my publishing team: Katharine Glynn, Shannon Kobran, and Teresa
Ward at Pearson and Michelle Gardner at SPi Global.
On a more personal note, I wish also to thank my students and colleagues, who
have taught me so much over the years. And I would be remiss indeed if I failed to
acknowledge the assistance of Mohawk Valley Community College librarians Colleen Kehoe-Robinson and Barb Evans. In addition, I salute my lifelong friend Frank
Tedeschi and my “basketball buddy,” John Lapinski; both continue to provide muchappreciated diversion, encouragement, and companionship.
Most importantly, of course, I thank my wife, Ellis; and my sons, Jonathan and
George J. Searles, Ph.D.
Mohawk Valley Community College
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The Keys to
Purpose, Audience,
and Tone
When you complete this chapter you’ll be able to:
• determine your purpose for writing.
• identify your intended audience.
• perform productive prewriting activities.
• complete revision-ready first drafts.
• rewrite effectively to achieve appropriate tone.
very instance of workplace writing occurs for a specific reason and is intended for a
particular individual or group. Much the same is true of spoken messages, whether
delivered in person or by phone. Therefore, both the purpose and the audience must
be carefully considered to ensure that the tone of the exchange is appropriate to the
situation. Although this may seem obvious, awareness of purpose, audience, and tone
is crucial to ensuring that your communication succeeds. Equally important is the
need to understand that writing is actually a three-step process involving not only
the writing itself but also prewriting and rewriting. This opening chapter concentrates on these fundamental concerns, presents a brief overview of the basic principles
involved, and provides exercises in their application.
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
Nearly all workplace writing is done for at least one of three purposes: to create a
record, to request or provide information, or to persuade. For example, a caseworker
in a social services agency might interview an applicant for public assistance to gather
information that will then be reviewed in determining the applicant’s eligibility.
Clearly, such writing is intended both to provide information and to create a record.
On the other hand, the purchasing director of a manufacturing company might write
a letter or e-mail inquiring whether a particular supplier can provide materials more
cheaply than the current vendor. The supplier will likely reply promptly. Obviously,
the primary purpose here is to exchange information. In yet another setting, a probation officer composes a presentencing report intended to influence the court to grant
probation to the offender or impose a jail sentence. The officer may recommend
either, and the report will become part of the offender’s record, but the primary purpose of this example of workplace writing is to persuade.
At the prewriting stage of the writing process—before you attempt to actually
compose—you must first do some thinking to identify which of the three categories of
purpose applies. Ask yourself, “Am I writing primarily to create a record, to request or
provide information, or to persuade?” Once you make this determination, the question becomes, “Summarized in one sentence, what am I trying to say?” To answer,
you must zoom in on your subject matter, focusing on the most important elements.
A helpful strategy is to use the “Five W’s” that journalists use to structure the opening
sentences of newspaper stories: Who, What, Where, When, Why. Just as they do for
reporters, the Five W’s will enable you to get off to a running start.
Next, ask yourself, “Who will read what I have written?” This is a crucial part of the
prewriting stage of the communication process.
An e-mail, letter, report, or oral presentation must be tailored to its intended audience; otherwise, it probably won’t achieve the desired results. Therefore, ask yourself the
following questions before attempting to prepare any sort of formal communication:
• Am I writing to one person or more than one?
• What are their job titles and/or areas of responsibility?
• What do they already know about the specific situation?
• Why do they need this information?
• What do I want them to do as a result of receiving it?
• What factors might influence their response?
Because these questions are closely related, the answers sometimes overlap. A good
starting point for sorting them out is to classify your audience by level: layperson, expert,
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or executive. The layperson doesn’t possess significant prior knowledge of the field,
whereas an expert obviously does. An executive reader has decision-making power and,
one hopes, considerable expertise. By profiling your readers or listeners this way, you’ll
come to see the subject of your planned communication from your audience’s viewpoint
as well as your own. You’ll be better able to state the purpose of your communication,
provide necessary details, cite meaningful examples, achieve the correct level of formality, and avoid possible misunderstandings, thereby achieving your desired outcome.
In identifying your audience, remember that workplace communications fall
into four broad categories:
• Upward communication: Intended for those above you in the hierarchy.
(Example: An e-mail reply to a question from your supervisor.)
• Lateral communication: Intended for those at your own level in the hierarchy.
(Example: A voice mail to a coworker with whom you’re collaborating.)
• Downward communication: Intended for those below you in the hierarchy.
(Example: An oral reminder to an intern you’ve been assigned to train.)
• Outward communication: Intended for those outside your workplace.
(­Example: A letter to someone at a company with which you do business.)
These differences will influence your communications in many ways, particularly in determining format. For in-house communications (the first three categories), the memo was traditionally the preferred written medium. The memo has now
been almost totally replaced by e-mail. And text messaging, of course, has became
another major form of in-house communication. For outward communications, such
as correspondence with clients, customers, or the general public, the standard business letter has been the norm. Business letters are either mailed or transmitted by fax
machine. Even for outward communications, though, e-mail is often the best choice
because of its speed and efficiency. If a more formal document is required, a confirmation letter can always be sent later.
Global Audience
Increasingly, outward communication involves transcultural interactions. In the
global marketplace, you face particular challenges when composing documents
intended for readers in other countries. Although it’s always foolish to embrace cultural and ethnic stereotypes, cultural differences do indeed exist. In fact, specialized
terminology has been developed to address this issue. For example, experts in the
field of communications differentiate between high-context and low-context cultural
mind-sets. Business and technical communications in high-context cultures such as
many in Asia, the Middle East, and South America typically exhibit an emphasis on
background information and often contain an interpersonal component. Those in
low-context cultures such as Australia, much of western Europe, and certainly the
United States do not. Such differences can result in very dissimilar handlings of essentially identical situations, as Figures 1.1 and 1.2 illustrate.
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
221 River Street
Hoboken, New Jersey 07030
February 2, 2015
Mr. Yukio Tanaka
Shinchoku International
7-3-1 Hongo
Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8654
Dear Mr. Yukio Tanaka:
Everyone at 3-Dynamics enjoyed your recent visit to our corporate
offices, but we must apologize for the frigid New Jersey weather. We
are sure that your wife and family are glad that you have returned
safely and are delighted with the lovely gifts you bought for them at
Bloomingdale’s, one of our most highly regarded department stores.
As you know, 3-Dynamics was founded in 2010 and was an early leader
in three-dimensional printing. Since then we have expanded and
become the most well-known American company in this field. Much
of our success is the result of our decision to develop both hardware
and software, rather than focusing exclusively on one area of this
exciting technology.
Certainly we are enthusiastic about the prospect of cooperating with
Shinchoku International in a joint venture. Such an undertaking
would be very rewarding for both companies, allowing us to capture a
much greater segment of the world-wide market than either can claim
at present.
With your permission, we will contact you in the very near future to
arrange for the next step in establishing our partnership.
Edward Ahern
Edward Ahern
Assistant Director of Marketing
FIGURE 1.1 • Letter to an overseas reader
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221 River Street
Hoboken, New Jersey 07030
February 10, 2015
Mr. Richard Gray
SxSW Technologies
50 Sixth Street, Suite 56
Austin, TX 78700
Dear Richie,
Thanks for making the trip east last week to discuss our possible
Everybody here agrees it’s something we should explore
further, with an eye toward capturing a much greater share of
the rapidly expanding 3-D market. Could be a major win-win
for both SxSWT and 3-Dynamics.
Someone here will contact you very soon to start putting the
wheels into motion. Stay tuned!
Edward Ahern
Assistant Director of Marketing
FIGURE 1.2 • Letter to American Reader
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
The letter to the Japanese company “shoots the breeze” through its more formal tone and conclusion of personal detail before getting down to the “take-away.”
The letter to the American company “cuts to the chase.” Idioms such as these,
while well-known by American English speakers, might be quite confusing—in fact
­meaningless—to readers elsewhere. Indeed, that’s the definition of an idiom: an
expression that defies direct translation. This is another key feature of global communication. Colloquialisms vary greatly around the world, even among native speakers
of English in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada, and elsewhere. Therefore,
they should definitely be avoided when writing to readers outside the United States.
Even contractions—which can be seen as too informal—should not appear. The same
is true of slang, abbreviations, acronyms, and other varieties of nonstandard phrasing. Of course, it’s always better to avoid such expressions in workplace writing, but
especially so in transcultural situations. These usages not only increase the likelihood
of miscommunication but are difficult or impossible to translate meaningfully if your
writing must be recast in your reader’s language.
Also important when writing in an international setting is to use familiar, commonplace vocabulary and strive for direct, straightforward sentence structure that
follows the basic subject/verb/object pattern. This is always preferable to a complex,
roundabout style, but never more so than in the global context.
In addition, it’s necessary to avoid cultural references, which may not be understood by readers in other countries. Many American idioms presuppose a familiarity
with our popular culture, particularly sports. If we refer to a “hail Mary,” for example, or a “slam dunk,” we’ll be understood “in a New York minute,” but only if our
reader is also from this country. Such expressions are useful only in rather informal
exchanges and are never appropriate when addressing readers in other parts of the
This is equally true of attempts at humor, which may not only puzzle but perhaps
unintentionally insult the reader. While we must always consider questions of audience when composing workplace documents, attention to this fundamental issue is
absolutely paramount in the international context.
As Table 1.1 reflects, the drafting stage of the three-part writing process is the least
complicated. If you’ve devoted enough time and attention to prewriting, you’ll
know what you intend to say, you’ll have enough to say, and you’ll know what goes
where, so you’ll be able to compose fairly quickly. Indeed, at the drafting stage,
you should simply push ahead rather than stopping to fine-tune because it’s best
not to disrupt the flow of your ideas. Of course, if you notice an obvious miscue
(a typo, for example), it’s OK to correct it, but keep the emphasis on completing
the draft before you run out of time and energy. Any additional polishing that
may be needed can be done during the final, most challenging stage of the process,
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• Identify your purpose and
your intended audience.
• Create a first draft,
concentrating on content
rather than fine points
of mechanics, style, and
• Consider the organization
of the content.
• Decide what needs to be
• Choose the most
appropriate format
(e-mail, letter, report).
• Check for accuracy,
completeness, and ethical
• Revise for style, striving for
concision and simplicity.
• Adjust the tone to suit the
• Edit for mechanical errors
(typos, spelling, grammar,
TABLE 1.1 • Writing: A Three-Step Process
Nobody produces good writing on the first try. You must rewrite. But rewriting
involves far more than simply correcting mechanical errors. For example, what may
have seemed sufficient and logical at the drafting stage might now strike you as much
less so. Therefore, you might want to add something here and there or take something out. How about organization?
• Are the individual words in each sentence precisely the right ones, and is each
exactly where it belongs?
• Are the sentences in each paragraph presented in the best possible order?
• Are the paragraphs in the best sequence, or should they be rearranged?
In addition, you should look for ways to tighten your style by avoiding wordiness
and expressing yourself as simply and directly as possible. Very important, is your
tone appropriate to your purpose and your intended reader?
Your hierarchical relationship to your reader plays a major role in determining
your tone, especially when you’re attempting to convey “bad news” (the denial of a
request from an employee you supervise, for example) or to suggest that staff members adopt some new or different procedure. Although such messages can be phrased
in a firm, straightforward manner, a harsh voice or belligerent attitude is seldom
Any workforce is essentially a team of individuals cooperating to achieve a common goal: the mission of the business, organization, or agency. A high level of collective commitment is needed for this to happen. Ideally, each person exerts a genuine
effort to foster a climate of shared enthusiasm. But if coworkers become defensive or
resentful, morale problems inevitably develop, undermining productivity. In such a
situation, everyone loses.
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
Therefore, don’t try to sound tough or demanding when writing about potentially sensitive issues. Instead, appeal to the reader’s sense of fairness and cooperation.
Phrase your sentences in a nonthreatening way, emphasizing the reader’s viewpoint
by using a reader-centered (rather than a writer-centered) perspective. For obvious
reasons, this approach should also govern your correspondence intended for readers
outside the workplace, especially those in other countries.
Here are some examples of how to creatively change a writer-centered perspective
into a reader-centered perspective:
Writer-Centered Perspective
Reader-Centered Perspective
If I can answer any questions,
I’ll be happy to do so.
If you have any questions, please ask.
We shipped the order this morning.
Your order is on its way.
I’m happy to report that . . .
You’ll be glad to know that . . .
Notice that changing I and we to you and your personalizes the communication.
Focusing on the reader is also known as the “you” approach. Another important element of the you approach is the use of please, thank you, and other polite terms.
Now consider Figures 1.3 and 1.4. Both e-mails have the same purpose—to
change a specific behavior—and both address the same audience. But the first version
adopts a writer-centered approach and is harshly combative. The reader-centered
revision, on the other hand, is diplomatic and therefore much more persuasive. The
first is almost certain to create resentment and hard feelings, whereas the second is
far more likely to gain the desired results.
In most settings, you can adopt a somewhat more casual manner with your
equals and with those below you than with those above you in the chain of command or with persons outside the organization. But in any case, avoid an excessively
conversational style. Even when the situation isn’t particularly troublesome and
even when your reader is well-known to you, remember that “business is business.”
Although you need not sound stuffy, it’s important to maintain a certain level of formality. Accordingly, you should never allow personal matters to appear in workplace
correspondence. Consider, for example, Figure 1.5, an e-mail in which the writer has
obviously violated this rule. Although the tone is appropriately respectful, the content should be far less detailed, as in the revised version shown in Figure 1.6.
A sensitive situation awaits you when you must convey unpleasant information
or request assistance or cooperation from superiors. Although you may sometimes
yearn for a more democratic arrangement, every workplace has a pecking order
that you must consider as you choose your words. Hierarchy exists because some
­individuals—by virtue of more experience, education, or access to information—are
in fact better positioned to lead. Although this system sometimes functions imperfectly, the supervisor, department head, or other person in charge responds better to
subordinates whose communications reflect an understanding of this basic reality.
Essentially, the rules for writing to a person higher on the ladder are the same as for
writing to someone on a lower rung. Be focused and self-assured, but use the “you”
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Negative subject
Capital letters and
exclamation mark
convey hostility
Command should
be a request
Brian Johnson
3/10/2015 3:30 PM
All Employees
For some time now, smoking has been strictly prohibited inside the Main
Building. Do NOT smoke anywhere indoors!
Some of you still insist on smoking and have been doing so outside. As
a result, the areas near the rear exit and around the picnic tables are
­constantly littered with smoking-related debris (filter tips, half-smoked
­cigarettes, matchbooks, etc.), creating an eyesore and making more work
for my staff, who have to keep cleaning up this mess.
Starting Monday, sand buckets will be provided outside the rear doors and
in the picnic area. Use them!
FIGURE 1.3 • Original E-mail
Positive subject
Brian Johnson
3/10/2015 3:30 PM
All Employees
Outdoor Ashtrays
Because the Main Building is a No Smoking zone, some of you have been
taking your breaks outdoors.
Upbeat tone
We appreciate your compliance with company regulations and wish to
minimize your inconvenience. As of Monday, sand bucket “ashtrays” will
be provided for your use outside the rear doors and near the picnic tables.
This will help maintain a more pleasant atmosphere for us all by minimizing
litter behind the building.
Polite closing
Again, thanks very much for your cooperation!
FIGURE 1.4 • Revised E-mail
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
Paul Curtis
4/6/2015 11:30 AM
Marilyn Kelly
Personal Leave Request
I have three days of personal leave saved up and am asking your
permission to take off from work next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
(April 13–15).
Too much personal
As you probably have heard, I’ve been having a lot of family problems
lately. My son was recently arrested for drug possession, and my wife is
talking about leaving. I really need a few days off to try to get my home
situation straightened out.
Please approve this request.
FIGURE 1.5 • Original E-mail
Paul Curtis
4/6/2015 11:30 AM
Marilyn Kelly
Personal Leave Request
Salutation and
complimentary close
personalize the tone.
Good morning, Marilyn.
I have three days of personal leave saved up, and am asking your permission
to take off from work next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (April 13–15).
Because I have some urgent personal business to attend to, I would
­certainly appreciate your approving this request. It’s really quite important.
Thank you very much for your consideration.
FIGURE1.6 • Revised E-mail
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A slangy, vernacular style is out of place in workplace writing, as are expletives
and any other coarse or vulgar language. Something that may seem clever or
humorous to you may not amuse your reader and will probably appear foolish
to anyone reviewing the correspondence later. Keep this in mind when sending
e-mail, a medium that seems to encourage looser, more playful phrasing.
Avoid abbreviations and acronyms hatched in Internet chat rooms and other
informal contexts such as text messaging. Although inventive, most are inappropriate for the workplace because they may not be readily understood—especially
by older workers and those for whom English is not their native language. Here
are ten examples.
BTW: by the way
IRL: in real life
FWIW: for what it’s worth
OTOH: on the other hand
HAND: have a nice day
TMOT: trust me on this
IMHO: in my humble opinion
TTYTT: to tell you the truth
IOW: in other words
WADR: with all due respect
At the same time, technical acronyms specific to particular businesses and
occupations facilitate dialogue among employees familiar with those terms. As
with so many aspects of workplace communications, the use of acronyms is
largely governed by considerations of audience, purpose, and tone.
approach, encouraging the reader to see the advantage in accepting your recommendation or granting your request.
Nowhere is this more crucial than in the global context. Obviously, it would
be impossible to familiarize oneself with all the many cultural differences that exist
around the world. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that in the realm of workplace communications, most cultures place a very high value on tact and courtesy.
Informality can easily be viewed as disrespect, and indirection is often preferable to
outright refusal or disagreement. In many Asian countries, for example, “maybe” is
often understood to mean “no,” as is the phrase “we’ll think about it.” This is in direct
contrast to the American tendency toward bluntness, which can be interpreted as
overly aggressive or even combative.
An especially polite tone is advisable when addressing those who outrank you.
Acknowledge that the final decision is theirs and that you are fully willing to abide
by that determination. This can be achieved either through “softening” words and
phrases (perhaps, with your permission, if you wish) or simply by stating outright that
you’ll accept whatever outcome may develop. For example, consider the e-mails in
Figures 1.7 and 1.8. Although both say essentially the same thing, the first is completely inappropriate in tone, so much so that it would likely result in negative
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
Thomas Kearney
5/19/2015 1:00 PM
Anne Scott
Drug Testing
Hostile tone
creates negative
Just wanted to let you know that you’d better forget about the random
drug-testing policy you announced in your memo yesterday. It’s a dumb
idea that will never work. All the drivers are angry about it, and there are a
lot of questions that your memo left completely unanswered! From what I
hear, people in other departments have a lot of questions too. Better clear
some of this stuff up or nobody’s ever going to hold still for it.
FIGURE 1.7 • Original E-mail
Thomas Kearney
5/19/2015 1:00 PM
Anne Scott
Drug Testing
Good afternoon, Anne.
Salutation and
complimentary close
personalize the tone.
There’s some confusion about the new drug-testing policy that was
announced yesterday. Probably as a result of that misunderstanding, there
also appears to be some resistance to the plan.
segment the
Polite closing
and an offer
of assistance
positive tone
If you’ll permit me to offer a suggestion, it might be a good idea to
schedule a brief meeting with the employees to offer information, address
their concerns, and clarify some of the more troubling features of the policy.
Thank you for considering this idea, and please let me know if I can assist in
any way.
FIGURE 1.8 • Revised E-mail
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consequences for the writer. The second would be much better received because it
properly reflects the nature of the professional relationship.
Communicating with customers or clients also requires a great deal of sensitivity and tact. This is especially important when communicating with readers abroad,
many of whom are accustorned to a more formal and polite tone than is common
here. When justifying a price increase, denying a claim, or apologizing for a delay,
you’ll probably create an unpleasant climate unless you present the facts in a gentle
manner. Always strive for the most upbeat, reader-centered wording you can devise.
Here are some examples of how to rephrase negative content in more positive, readercentered terms:
Negative Wording
Positive Wording
We cannot process your claim
because the necessary forms
have not been completed.
Your claim can be processed
as soon as you complete the
necessary forms.
We do not take phone call after
3:00 p.m. on Fridays.
You may reach us by telephone
on Fridays until 3:00 p.m.
We closed your case because
we never received the
information requested in our
letter of April 2.
Your case will be reactivated
as soon as you provide the
information requested in our
April 2 letter.
When the problem has been caused by an error or oversight on your part, be sure
to apologize. However, do not state specifically what the mistake was or your letter
may be used as evidence against you should a lawsuit ensue. Simply acknowledge that
a mistake has occurred, express regret, explain how the situation will be ­corrected,
and close on a conciliatory note. For example, consider the letter in Figure 1.9. The
body and conclusion are fine, but the introduction practically invites legal action.
Here’s a suggested revision of the letter’s opening paragraph, phrased in less incriminating terms:
Thank you for purchasing our product and for taking the time to contact us about it.
We apologize for the unsatisfactory condition of your Superior microwave dinner.
Moreover, given the serious nature of the complaint, the customer services representative should certainly have made a stronger effort to establish a tone of sincerely
apologetic concern. As it stands, this letter seems abrupt and rather impersonal—
certainly not what the context requires. (For a much better handling of this kind of
situation, see the adjustment letter in Figure 2.6.)
This is not to suggest, however, that workplace communications should attempt
to falsify reality or dodge responsibility. On the contrary, there’s a moral imperative
to uphold strict ethical standards. Recent corporate misdeeds have put ethical questions under the spotlight and greatly increased the public’s appetite for investigative
reporting by the media. The online Encyclopedia Brittanica defines ethics as “the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong.” Essentially,
ethics involves choosing honesty over dishonesty, requiring us to act with integrity
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
135 Grove St., Atlanta, GA 30300 (324) 555-1234
August 24, 2015
Mr. Philip Updike
246 Alton St.
Atlanta, GA 30300
Dear Mr. Updike:
Wording is
too explicit
We are sorry that you found a piece of glass in your Superior
microwave dinner. Please accept our assurances that this is a very
unusual incident.
Here are three coupons redeemable at your local grocery store for
complimentary Superior dinners of your choice.
Positive tone
despite negative
We hope you will continue to enjoy our fine products.
John Roth
John Roth
Customer Services Dept.
Enclosures (3)
FIGURE 1.9 • Letter to Customer
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even when there would be short-term gains for behaving otherwise. Ethical communication must therefore be honest and fair to everyone involved.
By their nature, workplace communications can greatly affect people’s lives.
Accordingly, customers and clients, investors, taxpayers, and workers themselves
should be able to treat such materials as accurate, reliable, and trustworthy—in short,
ethical. Documents fail the ethics test if corrupted by any of the following tactics:
• Suppression of information: The outright burying of data to hide inconvenient
truths. (Example: A company fails to reveal product-testing results that indicate
potential danger to consumers.)
• Falsification or fabrication: Changing or simply inventing data to support a
desired outcome. (Example: A company boasts of a fictitious enterprise to lure
investors into supporting a new venture.)
• Overstatement or understatement: Exaggerating the positive aspects of a situation or downplaying negative aspects to create the desired impression. (Example:
A public-opinion survey describes 55 percent of the respondents as a “substantial
majority” or 45 percent as “a small percentage.”)
• Selective misquoting: Deleting words from quoted material to distort the meaning. (Example: A supervisor changes a report’s conclusion that “this proposal will
seem feasible only to workers unfamiliar with the situation” to “this proposal will
seem feasible . . . to workers.”)
• Subjective wording: Using terms deliberately chosen for their ambiguity.
(Example: A company advertises “customary service charges,” knowing that
“­customary” is open to broad interpretation.)
• Conflict of interest: Exploiting behind-the-scenes connections to influence
decision making. (Example: A board member of a community agency encourages the agency to hire her company for paid services rather than soliciting bids.)
• Withholding information: Refusing to share relevant data with coworkers.
(Example: A computer-savvy employee provides misleading answers about new
software to make a recently hired coworker appear incompetent.)
• Plagiarism: Taking credit for someone else’s ideas, findings, or written material.
(Example: An employee assigned to prepare a report submits a similar report written by someone at another company and downloaded from the Internet.)
Workers must weigh the consequences of their actions, considering their moral
obligations. If this is done in good faith, practices such as those outlined in the
preceding list can surely be avoided. Decisions can become complicated, however,
when obligations to self and others come into conflict. Workers often feel pressure to compromise personal ethical beliefs to achieve company goals. All things
being equal, a worker’s primary obligation is to self—to remain employed. But if
the employer permits or requires actions that the employee considers immoral, an
ethical dilemma is created, forcing the worker to choose among two or more unsatisfactory alternatives.
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
For example, what if an employee discovers that the company habitually ignores
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards? As everyone knows, whistle-blowing can incur heavy
penalties: ostracism, undesirable work assignments, poor performance reviews—or
even termination. Although the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 prohibits such retribution, it’s quite difficult to actually prove retaliation unless the worker is prepared for
potentially lengthy and expensive legal combat with no guarantee of success and the
added threat of countersuit. And even if the attempt does succeed, the worker must
then return to an even more hostile climate. Should the person seek employment
elsewhere, blacklisting may have already sabotaged the job search.
There are no easy resolutions to ethical dilemmas, but we all must be guided
by conscience. Obviously, this can involve some difficult decisions. By determining
your purpose, analyzing your audience, and considering the moral dimensions of the
situation, you’ll achieve the correct tone for any communication. As we have seen,
this is crucial for dealing with potentially resistive readers (especially those above you
in the workplace hierarchy) and when rectifying errors for which you’re accountable.
In all instances, however, a courteous, positive, reader-centered, and ethical approach
leads to the best results.
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Revise each of the following three communications to achieve a tone more appropriate to the purpose and audience.
Southeast Industrial Park     Tallahassee, FL 32301
Telephone: (850) 555-0123    FAX: (850) 555-3210
November 9, 2015
Mr. Francis Tedeschi
214 Summit Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Dear Mr. Tedeschi:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your 11/2/15 claim.
Insured persons entitled to benefits under the Tallahassee Manufacturing
Co. plan effective December 1, 2005, are required to execute statements of
claims for medical-surgical expense benefits only in the manner specifically mandated in your certificate holder’s handbook.
Your claim has been quite improperly executed, as you have neglected to
procure the Physician’s Statement of Services Rendered. The information
contained therein is prerequisite to any consideration of your claim.
Enclosed is the necessary form. See that it’s filled out and returned to us
without delay or your claim cannot be processed.
Yours truly,
Ann Jurkiewicz
Ann Jurkiewicz
Claims Adjustor
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
3/17/2015 2:00 PM
All Caseworkers
Goofing Off
A lot of you seem to think that this is a country club and are spending
entirely too much time in the break room! As you well know, you’re entitled
to one 15-minute break in the morning and another in the afternoon. The
rest of the time, you’re supposed to be AT YOUR DESK unless signed out
for fieldwork.
Cheryl Alston
Case Supervisor
5/4/2015 10:00 AM
All Faculty, Staff, Students
Burglarized Vehicles
Recently, there’s been a rash of burglaries in the faculty/staff parking lot.
Items such as CD players, cellular phones, and even a personal computer
have been reported missing from vehicles.
After investigating, however, we’ve learned that several of these vehicles
had been left unlocked. Don’t be stupid! Always lock your car or else be
prepared to get ripped off. My staff can’t be everywhere at once, and if
you set yourself up to be victimized, it’s not our fault.
Charles Rigney
Chief of Campus Security
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Revise each of the following three communications to eliminate inappropriate tone
and/or content.
The Turnpike Mall • Turnpike East • Augusta, ME 04330
February 18, 2015
Ms. Barbara Wilson
365 Grove St.
Augusta, ME 04330
Dear Ms. Wilson:
Your Bancroft’s charge account is $650.55 overdue. We must receive a
payment immediately.
If we don’t receive a minimum payment of $50 within three days, we’ll
refer your account to a collection agency, and your credit rating will be
permanently compromised.
Send a payment at once!
Michael Modoski
Michael Modoski
Credit Department
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
EXERCISE 1.2   Continued
Carl Roberts
11/10/2015 2.30 PM
Marketing Department Employees
Rescheduling of Meeting
The Friday afternoon department meeting has been rescheduled for
­Monday at 9 a.m. because I have to leave work early on Friday.
My son’s high school football team (the mighty 7 & 0 Centerton Lions—rah!
rah!) has an out-of-state game Friday night against another undefeated
team in Illinois. From what I understand, they’re a real powerhouse, but
I’m sure Centerton will beat them, especially since Carl Junior’s averaging
nearly 14 yards per carry!
Ellen Miller
7/14/2015 11:00 AM
Richard Rhodes
Excuse for Absence
Dear Mr. Rhodes:
Sorry I missed work on Monday. What happened was that my husband’s
company picnic was on Sunday. As you may have heard, he has a really
bad drinking problem. Needless to say, he tied one on big time and
insisted on staying out half the night, so I didn’t get any sleep. But I gave
him a good talking-to, and I can promise you that nothing like this will ever
happen again.
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Revise each of the following two letters to eliminate wording that might create legal
133 Court St.    Olympia, WA 98501
January 13, 2015
Mr. Robert Ryan
352 Stegman St.
Olympia, WA 98501
Dear Mr. Ryan:
We have received your letter of January 6, and we regret that the heating unit we
sold you malfunctioned, killing your tropical fish worth $1,500.
Because the unit was purchased more than three years ago, however, our storewide
warranty is no longer in effect, and we are therefore unable to accept any responsibility for your loss. Nevertheless, we are enclosing a Fin & Feather discount coupon
good for $20 toward the purchase of a replacement unit or another product of your
We look forward to serving you in the future!
Sandra Kouvel
Sandra Kouvel
Store Manager
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Chapter 1  The Keys to Successful Communication: Purpose, Audience, and Tone
The following idioms are well-known in the United States but might not be understood by readers elsewhere. Replace them with straightforward, literal expressions of
the meanings.
after the dust settles
all in the same boat
back to square one
bend over backward
bite the bullet
count on me
dead on arrival
foot the bill
hands down
hit the ground running
on thin ice
running on fumes
slip through the cracks
tough act to follow
turn up the heat
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Memos, E-mail,
Text Messages, and
Business Letters
When you complete this chapter you’ll be able to:
• follow established guidelines specific to various genres of workplace writing.
• compose clear, focused memos.
• use e-mail protocols efficiently.
• craft clear, concise text messages that convey information with maximum economy.
• write effective business letters in a variety of situations.
ntil fairly recently, the memo was perhaps the most common form of workplace
correspondence. Along with the business letter, the memo was fundamental to
office procedure. Any large company, agency, or other organization would generate thousands of such documents daily. Now, however, the memo—and, to a lesser
extent, the business letter as well—has been largely replaced by e-mail. And e-mail
itself is now in competition with text messaging, at least in relatively informal contexts. This chapter explores the connections among the memo, e-mail, texts, and the
business letter, and explains how to handle each.
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Traditionally, the memo was a vehicle for internal or “intramural” communication—
a message from someone at Company X to someone else at Company X. The memo
may have been written to one person or to a group, but it was almost always a form
of in-house correspondence.
Although the usual purpose of a memo was to inform, often its function was to
create a written record of a request or other message previously communicated in
person, over the phone, or through the grapevine.
Accordingly, a memo was usually quite direct in approach. It would come to the
point quickly and not ramble on. A good memo would focus sharply, zooming in on
what the reader needed to know. Depending on the subject, a memo would make its
point in three or four short paragraphs: a concise introduction, a middle paragraph
or two conveying the details, and perhaps a brief conclusion. But some memos were
as short as one paragraph or even one sentence. Like so many other features of workplace communications, memo length was determined by purpose and audience.
Although minor variations did exist, practically all memos shared certain standard format features:
• The word Memo, Memorandum, or some equivalent term at or near the top of the
• The DATE line.
• The TO line, enabling the memo to be “addressed,” and the FROM line, enabling
it to be “signed.”
• The SUBJECT line, identifying the topic. Like a newspaper headline but even
more concise, the SUBJECT line would orient and prepare the reader for what
was to follow. A good subject line answers this question: “In no more than three
words, what is this memo really about?”
• Of course, the message or content of the memo. As explained earlier, three or four
paragraphs were usually sufficient.
The memo in Figure 2.1 embodies all these features and provides an opportunity to
further explore the principle of tone introduced in Chapter 1.
The personnel manager picked her words carefully to avoid sounding bossy. She
says “You may want to send him a . . . card,” not “You should send him a . . . card,”
even though that’s what she really means. As discussed in Chapter 1, a tactful writer
can soften a recommendation, a request, or even a command simply by phrasing it
in a diplomatic way. In this situation, an employee’s decision whether to send a card
would be a matter of personal choice, so the memo’s gentle tone is particularly appropriate. But the same strategy can also be used when conveying important directives
you definitely expect the reader to follow.
For the sake of convenience in situations where a paper memo may still be preferable to e-mail, most word-processing programs include at least one preformatted
memo form, called a template. The template automatically generates formatted headings and inserts the date. The writer simply fills in the blanks.
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From line was
often initialed
May 11, 2015
All Employees
Susan Lemley, Manager, Personnel Department SL
James Mahan
As many of you already know, James Mahan of the maintenance department
was admitted to Memorial Hospital over the weekend and is scheduled to
undergo surgery on Tuesday.
Paragraph breaks
segment content
Although Jim will not be receiving visitors or phone calls for a while, you may
want to send him a “Get Well” card to boost his spirits. He’s in Room 325.
We’ll keep you posted about Jim’s progress.
FIGURE 2.1 • Basic Memo Format
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Because an e-mail is essentially just an electronic memo, practically everything that’s
already been said here about traditional memos also applies to e-mail.
Figure 2.2 is a typical e-mail memo, similar to those you saw in Chapter 1.
There are good reasons e-mail has been so widely adopted since becoming generally available in the 1990s. On the most obvious level, it’s incomparably faster than
traditional correspondence.
It allows for rapid-fire exchanges, and the most recent transmittal can reproduce
a complete record of all that has gone before. When you’re engaged in a lengthy backand-forth e-mail “conversation,” however, the focus of the discussion most likely
evolves. So it’s smart to continuously revise the subject line to reflect that fact.
Despite its many obvious advantages, e-mail can also create some problems. One
major drawback is that the very ease with which e-mail can be generated encourages
overuse. Sometimes a text or simple phone call is more efficient, even if voice mail is
involved. In the past, a writer would not bother to send a memo without good reason; too much time and effort were involved to do otherwise. Now, though, much
needless correspondence is produced. Many of yesterday’s writers would wait until
complete information on a given topic had been received, organized, and considered
before acting on it or passing it along. But today, it’s not uncommon for many e-mails
to be written on the same subject, doling out the information piecemeal, sometimes
William Powers
12/7/2015 2:30 PM
All Employees
2016–2018 Parking Decals
The new parking decals are here.
Paragraph breaks
segment content
close personalizes
All employees must re-register their vehicles no later than December 29.
Beat the rush and get your new decal now at the Security Office
(Room 101).
FIGURE 2.2 • E-mail
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within a very short time span. The resulting fragmentation wastes the energies of
writer and reader alike and increases the possibility of confusion, often because of premature response. One way to minimize this danger is to scan your entire menu of
incoming messages, taking special note of multiple mailings from the same source
before responding to any.
Similarly, e-mails about sensitive issues are often dashed off “in the heat of battle,”
without sufficient reflection. In the past, most writers had some time to reconsider a
situation before reacting. There was usually the option of revising or simply discarding
a memo if, upon proofreading, it came to seem a bit too harsh or otherwise inappropriate. The inherent rapidity of e-mail, however, all but eliminates any such opportunity
for second thoughts. In addition, hasty composition causes a great many keyboarding
miscues, omissions, and other fundamental blunders. These must then be corrected
in subsequent messages, creating an inefficient proliferation of “e-mail about e-mail.”
Indeed, hurried writing combined with the absence of a secretarial “filter” has given
rise to a great deal of embarrassingly bad prose in the workplace. You risk ridicule and
loss of credibility unless you closely proofread every e-mail before sending it. Make
sure that the information is necessary and correct and that all pertinent details have
been included. Be particularly careful to avoid typos, misspellings, faulty capitalization, sloppy punctuation, and basic grammatical errors. Virtually all e-mail systems
include spell-checkers; although not foolproof, they help minimize typos and misspellings. Similarly, grammar checkers can detect basic sentence problems.
Be aware that although the To and From lines of an e-mail eliminate the need
for a letter-style salutation (“Dear Ms. Bernstein”) or complimentary close (“Yours
truly”), most writers employ these features when using e-mail to make their messages seem less abrupt and impersonal. The relative formality or informality of these
greetings and sign-offs depends on the relationship between writer and reader. In
any case, if your own e-mail name and address don’t fully reveal your identity, you
must include a complimentary close to inform your readers who you are. Most e-mail
systems enable you to create a “signature file” for this purpose. (See Figure 2.3.)
Understand that e-mail is not private. Recent court decisions—some involving
high-profile government scandals—have confirmed the employer’s right to monitor or inspect workers’ e-mail (and Internet activity). Indeed, it’s not uncommon for
workers to be fired for impropriety in this regard. A good rule of thumb is, “Don’t
say it in an e-mail unless you’d have no problem with it appearing on the front page
of your company newsletter.” In some situations, a given message may be entirely
appropriate but may contain highly sensitive information. In such cases, the best
choice may be a paper memo personally delivered in a sealed envelope.
As mentioned in Chapter 1, the company e-mail network is no place for personal
messages or an excessively conversational style. Many employers provide a separate
e-mail “bulletin board” on which workers can post and access announcements about
garage or vehicle sales, carpooling, unwanted theater and sports tickets, and the like.
Such matters are appropriate only as bulletin board content.
Now that nearly all organizations are online, e-mail is no longer just an intramural
communications medium; indeed, it’s beginning to rival the business letter as the major
form of correspondence across company boundaries. When you’re sending e-mail to
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
John Watson
5/19/2015 2:32 PM
All Employees
New Roof
As you may have heard, roof replacement is scheduled to begin next Friday.
The contractor will start by removing the stone ballast. This will involve the
use of a vacuum truck to draw the stone through hoses into the truck. This
will be somewhat noisy and will take two days (Friday and Saturday).
The next phase will be the removal of the old roof and installation of the
new roof. This will start on Sunday, May 31, and will take approximately
one month.
segments the
The final phase will involve repairing the concrete overhang around the
perimeter of the building. This will start around the end of June and will take
approximately one month. Like the ballast removal, this work will be noisy.
Apology softens
the message,
creating more
positive tone
We apologize for any inconvenience, and we appreciate your patience while
this project is under way. If you have any questions, please contact me.
John Watson
Director of Operations
Signature file
Office 333
Extension 5550
FIGURE 2.3 • E-mail with Signature File
readers at other locations, tone takes on even greater importance than usual. Because
the writer and the reader probably do not know each other personally, a higher level of
courteous formality is in order. Additionally, the subject matter is often more involved
than that of in-house correspondence, so e-mail sent outside the workplace is commonly longer and more fully developed than messages intended for coworkers. And
outside e-mail nearly always includes a letter-style salutation and complimentary close
unless the writer and the reader have established an ongoing professional relationship.
To sum up, e-mail is no different from any other form of workplace communication in requiring close attention to audience, purpose, and tone—not to mention
ethical considerations. Just as you would after composing a conventional memo on
paper, assess your e-mail by consulting the checklist on page 30.
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Despite its seemingly informal, spontaneous nature, e-mail is no less “official”
and permanent than a memo printed on paper. Therefore, it’s important to use
this medium thoughtfully, efficiently, and responsibly. These guidelines will
• Resist the temptation to forward chain letters, silly jokes, political rants, pornographic images, and the like. This not only wastes people’s time but, in
certain circumstances, can also be hazardous to your professional health.
• Never forward legitimate e-mail to other readers without the original writer’s
knowledge and permission. The message may have been intended for you
• When composing an e-mail of your own, however, remember that your
reader may indeed forward it to others.
• When responding to a mass mailing, do not click Reply All unless there’s a
valid reason to do so; reply only to the sender.
• Some readers routinely ignore attachments, so don’t create one if you can
build the information into the body of the e-mail, where it’s more likely to be
read. If that’s not practical, provide a one- or two-sentence summary in the
body of the e-mail to prompt the reader to open the attachment. Because
very large attachments can clog readers’ accounts, it’s better to send a hard
copy of such material.
• Remember that e-mail is only partially able to convey “tone of voice.” For
this reason, voice mail or actual conversation is often preferable, allowing
your reasoning and feelings to be understood more accurately. This is especially true in complicated or delicate situations, particularly those involving
negative messages—the denial of a request, for example.
• Never attempt to communicate when angry. Observe the standard rules
of e-mail etiquette. Avoid “flaming” (openly hostile or abusive comments,
whether directed at the reader or at a third party). The fact that you’re communicating electronically doesn’t exempt you from accepted norms of
workplace courtesy.
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Evaluating a Memo or E-mail
A good memo or e-mail
___ follows a standard format;
___ includes certain features:
Date line (appears automatically in e-mail)
To line, which includes the name and often the title and/or department of
the receiver
From line, which includes the name (appears automatically in e-mail) and
often the title and/or department of the sender; on a paper memo, the
From line must be initialed by the writer before the memo is sent
Subject line, which is a clear, accurate, but brief statement of what the
message is about
___ is organized into paragraphs (one is often enough) covering the subject fully in
an orderly way;
___ includes no inappropriate content;
___ uses clear, simple language;
___ maintains an appropriate tone—neither too formal nor too conversational;
___ contains no typos or mechanical errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation,
or grammar.
Text Messages
According to the old saying, “time is money.” In the world of work, therefore, information must be conveyed rapidly, in a punctual manner. Of course, e-mails and phone
calls can accomplish this reasonably well. But not everyone constantly monitors
e-mail, and phone calls can waste a lot of time because of the necessary “small talk”
involved. Moreover, the caller is often detoured to the other person’s voice mail, resulting in further delay. But texts—very short messages typed on the writer’s cell phone
keypad and sent to the reader’s cell phone—are more efficient. When a text message
is sent, the receiver of the text knows immediately and can reply (then or later), either
by return text or phone call. Depending on the circumstances, a rapid-fire series of
text message exchanges may be the fastest and most practical way to address a given
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Text Messages
One major advantage of text messaging is that it’s well-suited to today’s multitasking environment. Virtually everyone carries a cell phone at all times, and most of
us have become fairly adept at one-handed “thumb typing.” This enables messages
to be sent, received, and answered on the fly, even while the persons involved are
engaged in other activities. Needless to say, however, no one should ever attempt to
text while driving a motor vehicle or operating potentially dangerous equipment of
any kind. Although surveys reveal that texting while driving is quite common, this is
an extremely hazardous practice, directly responsible for thousands of highway fatalities every year.
Texting can be tricky in less dangerous ways as well. Because every message is limited to only 160 characters (including spaces and punctuation marks), there’s a widespread tendency to rely on abbreviation, phonetic spelling, substitution of numerals
or single letters for words, and so forth. This is very typical of texts between friends
and in other social contexts. The following example illustrates this:
ru goin 2 party 2nite? starts @9. cul8r
(Translation: Are you going to the party tonight? It starts at 9:00. See you later.)
In the workplace, however, these shortcuts can create misunderstanding and confusion, partly because of generational and cultural differences among coworkers, and
should therefore be minimized. Since most workplace texts are only a brief sentence
or two, there’s no real need for extreme concision because there’s seldom much danger of exceeding the 160-character limit. As in all writing, the use of conventional
spelling, punctuation, and grammar is certainly the best way to ensure clarity in text
As speedy as texting is, there are situations in which it may not be the best choice.
If the subject matter is fairly important or sensitive, for example, an e-mail or phone
call is preferable. One reason is that cell phones are sometimes lost or temporarily
misplaced, thereby creating the possibility of a security breach. Another is that text
message accounts reach capacity even faster than e-mail accounts. As the oldest
messages must be deleted to create room for new ones, the “paper trail” becomes
shortened. This makes it somewhat difficult (though not impossible) to completely
reconstruct a scenario if there’s any future need to do so.
Of course, employer-provided cell phones should be used only for business
purposes, not for social conversation or non-work-related texting. When texting
co-workers, it’s necessary to observe all the same norms of courtesy that govern
e-mail and other workplace interactions. Specifically, there should be absolutely
no flirting, rumor-spreading, or exchanging of tasteless jokes and/or politically
enflamed rants. Even though texts are by nature very brief, they should still be
phrased politely and respectfully. On a related note, it’s very rude to text while
in face-to-face conversation or while attending a meeting—unless, of course, the
texting directly pertains to the business at hand. People you’re conversing with,
including your fellow participants in meetings, expect (and are entitled to) your
undivided attention.
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Evaluating a Work-Related Text Message
A good work-related text message
___ is short and to the point, using no more than 160 characters;
___ avoids excessive use of texting shortcuts;
___ contains no sensitive information;
___ uses clear, simple language;
___ maintains an appropriately courteous tone—neither too formal nor too
___ contains no typos or mechanical errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation,
or grammar.
Business Letters
Business letters are typically used for external communication: a message from someone at Company X to someone elsewhere—a customer or client, perhaps, or a counterpart at Company Y. As mentioned earlier, however, e-mail is now often used in
situations that in the past would have required letters, and this trend is increasing.
Nevertheless, countless letters are still written every day for an enormous variety of
reasons. Some of the more typical purposes of a letter are to do the following:
• Ask for information (inquiry)
• Sell a product or service (sales)
• Purchase a product or service (order)
• Request payment (collection)
• Voice a complaint (claim)
• Respond to a complaint (adjustment)
• Thank someone (acknowledgment)
Figures 2.4 through 2.6 provide some examples.
Regardless of its purpose, however, every letter includes certain essential components that appear on the page in the following sequence:
1. Writer’s address (often preprinted on letterhead) at the top of the page. (Figure 2.7
lists standard abbreviations used in letter writing.)
2. Date (like e-mail, letters sent by fax are also automatically imprinted with the
exact time of transmission)
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Business Letters
P.O. Box 123
Littleton, NY 13300
Telephone (315) 555-1234 • Fax (315) 555-4321
February 24, 2015
within each
block of print
Chief Joseph Kealy
Littleton Police Department
911 Main St.
Littleton, NY 13300
Dear Chief Kealy:
between blocks
It is our understanding that a Littleton resident, Mr. Alex Booth, is the
subject of an investigation by your department, with the assistance of
the county district attorney. In keeping with the provisions of the New
York Freedom of Information Law, I’m requesting information about
Mr. Booth’s arrest.
This information is needed to provide our readership with accurate
news coverage of the events leading to Mr. Booth’s current situation.
The Weekly News prides itself on fair, accurate, and objective
reporting, and we’re counting on your assistance as we seek to
uphold that tradition.
Because the police blotter is by law a matter of public record, we
appreciate your full cooperation.
Additional spacing
to accommodate
Nancy Muller
Nancy Muller, Reporter
FIGURE 2.4 • Inquiry Letter in Full Block Style
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
41 Allan Court
Tucson, AZ 86700
June 30, 2015
Consumer Relations Department
Superior Foods, Inc.
135 Grove St.
Atlanta, GA 30300
Dear Superior Foods:
Superior microwave dinners are excellent products that I’ve
purchased regularly for many years. Recently, however, I had
an unsettling experience with one of these meals.
provides details.
While enjoying a serving of Pasta Alfredo, I discovered in the
food what appeared to be a thick splinter of wood. I’m sure
this is an isolated incident, but I thought your quality control
department would want to know about it.
Last paragraph
I’ve enclosed the splinter, taped to the product wrapper,
along with the sales receipt for the dinner. May I please be
reimbursed $4.98 for the cost?
George Eaglefeather
George Eaglefeather
FIGURE 2.5 • Consumer Claim Letter in Full Block Style
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Business Letters
135 Grove St. Atlanta, GA 30300 • (324) 555-1234
July 7, 2015
Mr. George Eaglefeather
41 Allan Court
Tucson, AZ 86700
Dear Mr. Eaglefeather:
thanks reader,
apologizes for
Thank you for purchasing our product and for taking the time to contact
us about it. We apologize for the unsatisfactory condition of your Pasta
Alfredo dinner.
provides solution
to problem.
Quality is of paramount importance to all of us at Superior Foods, and
great care is taken in the preparation and packaging of all our products.
Our quality assurance staff has been notified of the problem you
reported. Although Superior Foods doesn’t issue cash refunds, we have
enclosed three coupons redeemable at your grocery for complimentary
Superior dinners of your choice.
Last paragraph
We appreciate this opportunity to be of service, and we hope you’ll
continue to enjoy our products.
John Roth
John Roth
Customer Services Department
Enclosure line.
Enclosures (3)
FIGURE 2.6 • Adjustment Letter in Full Block Style
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
District of
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
West Virginia
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
FIGURE 2.7 • Standard Abbreviations
Source: U.S. Postal Service.
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Business Letters
3. Inside address (the full name, title, and address of the receiver)
4. Salutation, followed by a colon (avoid gender-biased salutations such as “Dear
Sir” or “Gentlemen”)
5. Body of the letter, using the three-part approach outlined below
6. Complimentary close (“Sincerely” is best), followed by a comma
7. Writer’s signature
8. Writer’s name and title beneath the signature
9. Enclosure line, if necessary, to indicate item(s) accompanying the letter
Along with these standard components, all business letters also embrace the
same three-part organization:
1. A brief introductory paragraph establishing context (by referring to previous
correspondence, perhaps, or by orienting the reader in some other way) and
stating the letter’s purpose concisely. In international correspondence, the
introduction is often more lengthy, comprising as many as two or even three
paragraphs of polite “ice-breaking” and background before the specific purpose
is identified.
2. A middle section (as many paragraphs as needed) conveying the content of
the message by providing all necessary details presented in the most logical
3. A brief concluding paragraph politely requesting action, thanking the reader, or
providing any additional information pertinent to the situation
Table 2.1 provides guidance in applying this three-part approach in each of the
basic letter-writing situations.
Over the years, letters have been formatted in various ways. Today, however,
“full block” style is the norm. As shown in Figures 2.4 through 2.6, full block style
requires that every line (including the date, the receiver’s address, the salutation,
the complimentary close, and the sender’s name) begin at the left margin. If, as in
Figure 2.5, the sender’s address isn’t preprinted on letterhead, it should also begin
at the left margin.
Note also that in full block style, even the first line of each paragraph begins at
the left margin rather than being indented.
As shown, a full block letter is single-spaced throughout, with double spacing
between the blocks of print. A common practice is to triple- or even quadruple-space
between the complimentary close and the sender’s name to provide ample room for
the sender’s signature.
A growing trend in letter writing is the fully abbreviated, “no punctuation, all
capitals” approach to the inside address. This derives from the U.S. Postal Service
recommendation that envelopes be so addressed to facilitate automated scanning
and sorting. Because the inside address has traditionally matched the address on
the envelope, such a feature may well become standard, at least for letters sent by
conventional mail rather than by electronic means. Indeed, many companies using
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M02_SEAR0690_07_SE_C02.indd 38
Get the reader’s attention,
perhaps by asking a question,
describing a situation, presenting an interesting fact, or using
a quotation (the same strategies are explained in Chapter
9 for opening a speech), and
state what you’re selling.
Establish that this is indeed an
order letter, and state what you
want to purchase.
Thank the reader in advance for
complying with your request.
If you must have a reply by a
certain date, specify it. Make
sure you’ve provided all the
information the reader will need
to reply (address, phone number, e-mail address). It’s a good
idea to provide a stamped, selfaddressed envelope.
Provide all relevant details about Thank the reader in advance
the product or service you’re
for becoming a customer and
selling and create an incentive
make sure you’ve provided all
by explaining to the reader the
the information the reader will
advantages of purchasing.
need to place an order (price list
or catalog, order form, address,
Web site, phone number, e-mail
Provide all relevant details about Thank the reader in advance
your order (product numbers,
for filling the order. If you must
prices, quantities, method of
have the product or service
payment, etc.). A table is often
by a certain date, specify it.
the best format for presenting
Make sure you’ve provided all
this information.
the information the reader will
need to ship the order (address,
billing address, method of
Briefly explain the reason for
Provide all relevant details about
your inquiry, and clearly identify your inquiry. Concretely specify
what you’re inquiring about.
what you want to know, why
the reader should provide this
information, and what you’ll use
it for. If you have more than one
question, create a bulleted or
numbered list.
Middle Paragraphs
Letter Type
Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
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M02_SEAR0690_07_SE_C02.indd 39
If you have not already done so
in the introduction, provide all
the relevant details about how
much is owed, when it was due,
and when it must be paid to
avoid penalty, but acknowledge
the possibility of error at your
Repeat the payment request
and encourage the reader to
contact you with any concerns
or to discuss payment options.
Make sure you’ve provided
all the information the reader
will need to respond (address,
phone number, e-mail address).
It’s a good idea to include
a stamped, self-addressed
Provide some background
Politely provide all relevant
Thank the reader in advance
information, but come quickly
details about what has gone
for correcting the problem and
to the point, identifying the
wrong and what you want the
make sure you’ve provided all
reader to do about it. If approthe information the reader will
priate, provide copies of bills,
need to contact you (address,
receipts, contracts, etc.
phone number, e-mail address).
Thank the reader for bringing
If the complaint is justified,
Thank the reader again for writthe problem to your attention,
explain what you’ll do to fix the
ing to you and provide reassurand if the complaint is justified, problem. If not, tactfully explain ances that everything will be
why you must deny the claim.
satisfactory in the future.
Briefly explain why you are writ- Provide all relevant details about Conclusions vary greatly
ing the acknowledgment and
why the person, group, or situa- depending on the nature of the
identify the person, group, or
tion deserves commendation.
situation. Commonly, you’ll
situation you’re commending.
thank the reader for considering the remarks and invite a
reply. In such cases, make sure
you’ve provided all the information the reader will need to
contact you (address, phone
number, e-mail address).
Open with a polite but firm
reminder that the reader’s payment is overdue. (In a second
or third collection letter, the
tone of the introduction can be
more urgent.)
TABLE 2.1 • Letter Content Guidelines
Business Letters
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Letters and other documents are often sent by a facsimile (fax) machine. Like
e-mail, this technology has the obvious advantage of speed; a letter that might
take two or three days to arrive by conventional mail can be received instantaneously by fax.
But whenever you fax anything, you must fax a cover memo along with it.
In this memo, you should include any additional information that might be necessary to orient the reader and indicate how many pages (including the cover
memo itself) you have included in the transmission so the reader will know
whether there’s anything that was sent but not received. You should also include
your fax number, telephone number, and e-mail address so the reader has the
option of replying. Here’s an example:
36 Clinton St., Collegeville, NY 13323
November 9, 2015 (3:15 p.m.)
John Lapinski, Main Office Comptroller (fax
Mark Smith, Branch Office Manager (fax #212-891-0111)
Telephone 212-555-2595, e-mail
Cosgrove Letter
Here’s Michael Cosgrove’s letter of November 3. Let’s discuss this at
Thursday’s meeting.
“window” envelopes have already adopted this style. Again, see Figure 2.7 for the
Postal Service’s guidelines for abbreviations in addresses.
As mentioned earlier, more and more companies are communicating with each
other by e-mail and other forms of electronic messaging rather than by business letter. The letter is still preferred, however, for more formal exchanges, especially those
in which speed of delivery isn’t a major factor. In situations involving individual customers and clients (some of whom may still rely on conventional mail), the business
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Business Letters
letter is also the best choice. At least for the immediate future, therefore, the letter
will continue to be a major form of workplace correspondence, although its role will
almost certainly undergo further redefinition as various forms of electronic communication become increasingly widespread.
Like all successful communication, a good letter must use an appropriate tone.
Obviously, a letter is a more formal kind of communication than in-house correspondence because it’s more public. Accordingly, a letter should uphold the image
of the sender’s company or organization by reflecting a high degree of professionalism. However, although a letter’s style should be polished, the language should be
natural and easy to understand. The key to achieving a readable style—in a letter or
in anything else you write—is to understand that writing shouldn’t sound pompous
or “official.” Rather, it should sound much like ordinary speech—shined up just a
bit. Whatever you do, avoid stilted, old-fashioned business clichés. Strive instead for
direct, conversational phrasing. Here’s a list of overly bureaucratic constructions,
paired with “plain English” alternatives:
As per your request
As you requested
Attached please find
Here is
In lieu of
Instead of
Please be advised that X
Pursuant to our agreement
As we agreed
Until such time as
We are in receipt of
We have received
We regret to advise you that X
Regrettably, X
If you have a clear understanding of your letter’s purpose and have analyzed
your audience, you should experience little difficulty achieving the appropriate tone
for the situation. In addition, if you have written your letter following full-block
format and if you have used clear, accessible, and mechanically correct language,
your correspondence will likely accomplish its objectives. As noted earlier, you must
scrupulously avoid typos and mechanical errors in memos and e-mails. This is equally
important when you compose letters intended for outside readers, who will take their
business elsewhere if they perceive you as careless or incompetent. Always proofread
carefully, making every effort to ensure that your work is error-free, and consult the
following checklist.
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Evaluating a Business Letter
A good letter
___ follows full block format;
___ includes certain features;
Sender’s complete address
Receiver’s full name and complete address
Salutation, followed by a colon
Complimentary close (“Sincerely” is best), followed by a comma
Sender’s signature and full name
Enclosure notation, if necessary
___ is organized into paragraphs, covering the subject fully in an orderly way:
First paragraph establishes context and states the purpose
Middle paragraphs provide all necessary details
Last paragraph politely achieves closure
___ includes no inappropriate content;
___ uses clear, simple language;
___ maintains an appropriate tone, neither too formal nor too conversational;
___ contains no typos or mechanical errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation,
or grammar.
You’re the assistant to the personnel manager of a metals fabrication plant. Monday is Labor Day, and most of the 300 employees will be given a paid holiday. The
company is under pressure, however, to meet a deadline. Therefore, a skeleton force
of forty—all in the production department—will be needed to work on the holiday.
Those who volunteer will have the option of being paid overtime at the standard
time-and-a-half rate or receiving two vacation days. If fewer than forty employees
volunteer, others will be assigned to work on the basis of seniority, with the most
recently hired employees chosen first. The personnel manager has asked you to alert
affected employees. Write an e-mail to the staff in the production department.
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You’re a secretary at a regional office of a state agency. Normal working hours for civil
service employees in your state are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a lunch break from
12:00 to 12:30 p.m. During the summer, however, the hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:00
p.m., with lunch unchanged. Summer hours are in effect from July 1 to September 2.
It’s now mid-June, and the busy office supervisor has asked you to remind employees
of the summer schedule. Write a memo to be posted on the main bulletin board and
sent via e-mail.
You work in the lumberyard of a building supplies company. Every year during the
July 4 weekend, the town sponsors the Liberty Run, a 10K (6.2-mile) road race. This
year, for the first time, local businesses have been invited to enter five-member teams
to compete for the Corporate Cup. The team with the best combined time takes the
trophy. There will be no prize money involved but much good publicity for the winners. Because you recently ran the Boston Marathon, the company president wants
you to recruit and organize a team. It’s now April 21. Better get started. Write an
e-mail to your coworkers.
You’re an office worker at a large paper products company that has just installed an
upgraded computer system. Many employees are having difficulty with the new
software. The manufacturer’s representatives will be onsite all next week to provide
training. Because you’re studying computer technology, you’ve been asked to serve
as liaison. You must inform your coworkers about the training, which will be delivered in Conference Room 3 from Monday through Thursday in eight half-day sessions (9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.), organized alphabetically by
workers’ last names as follows: A–B, C–E, F–I, J–M, N–P, Q–SL, SM–T, and U–Z. Workers unable to attend must sign up for one of two makeup sessions that will be held on
Friday. You must ensure that everyone understands all these requirements. Write a
memo to be posted on all bulletin boards and sent via e-mail.
You’re the manager of the employee cafeteria at a printing company. For many years,
the cafeteria has provided excellent service, offering breakfast from 7:00 to 8:30 a.m.
and lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It also serves as a breakroom, selling coffee,
soft drinks, and snacks all day. But the cafeteria is badly in need of modernization.
Work is scheduled to begin next Wednesday. Naturally, the cafeteria will have to be
closed while renovations are in progress. Employees will still be able to have lunch
and breaks, however, because temporary facilities are being set up in Room 101 of
Building B, a now-vacant area formerly used for storage. The temporary cafeteria
will provide all the usual services except for breakfast. Obviously, employees need to
know about the situation. Write an e-mail to the employees.
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Chapter 2  Workplace Correspondence
Proofread and rewrite the following memo, correcting all errors.
September 8, 2015
All Employes
Roger Sammon, Clerk
Medical Recrods Department
Patricia Klosek
As many of you allready know. Patricia Klosik from the Medical records
Depratment is retiring next month. After more then thirty years of faithfull service
to Memorial hospital.
A party is being planed in her honor. It will be at seven oclock on friday October
23 at big Joes Resturant tickets are $50 per person whitch includes a buffay diner
and a donation toward a gift.
If you plan to atend please let me no by the end of next week try to get you’re
check to me by Oct 9
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A consumer product that you especially like is suddenly no longer available in retail
stores in your area. Write the manufacturer a letter ordering the product.
Imagine you’ve received the product ordered in Exercise 2.7, but it’s somehow
unsatisfactory. Write the manufacturer a claim letter expressing dissatisfaction and
requesting an exchange or a refund.
Team up with a classmate, exchange the claim letters you each wrote in response to
Exercise 2.8, and then write adjustment letters to each other.
Many businesses, nonprofit agencies, and other organizations routinely send “snail
mail” letters in an effort to advertise products and services, solicit monetary contributions, or achieve some other objective. Select one such letter you’ve recently
received and write a brief evaluation of its effectiveness. Comment on the letter’s
purpose, format, clarity, and tone. If the letter could be better, provide specific suggestions for improvement.
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Effective Visuals:
Tables, Graphs,
Charts, and
When you complete this chapter, you’ll be able to:
• understand the principles governing effective visual representation.
• produce user-friendly tables.
• design informative line graphs and bar graphs.
• create clear flow charts, organizational charts, Gantt charts, and circle charts.
• use illustrations (photos, drawings, and diagrams) effectively.
eople often communicate without written or spoken language—through gestures
and facial expressions, for example, and of course by means of diagrams, pictures,
and signs. Consider the familiar displays shown here:
Workplace communications make extensive use of visual aids along with text.
Proposals, manuals, instructions, Web pages and reports of all kinds contain numerous illustrations to capture and hold people’s attention and help convey information.
To function successfully in today’s increasingly sophisticated workplace, an employee
must be well-acquainted with these visual elements. This chapter begins with a brief
overview of basic principles governing the use of visuals. It then explores the four
main categories of visuals—tables, graphs, charts, and illustrations—and explains the
principal features and applications of each.
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Principles of Effective Visuals
Principles of Effective Visuals
With today’s software packages, you can assemble data on a spreadsheet and then
display it in whatever format is most suitable. For drawings and photographs, you can
choose from a vast array of readily available electronic clip art and stock images. Computer technology produces highly polished results while encouraging a great deal
of experimentation with various design …
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