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memo of introduction
A memo is an internal form of communication within a particular organization. Most often a memo is an announcement, reminder, or update about a certain event, policy, or procedure. Such a memo is brief, generally no longer than one page, and its audience is assumed to be a group of "insiders" familiar with the organization's culture even if they are not familiar with the information conveyed in the memo itself.

A memo also can discuss information of a technical or business nature in an almost "mini-report" fashion. Rather than serving as a bulletin to most members of the organization, such a memo is often written from one department representative or team to another department representative or team. In this case, the memo might update members of one department on a design or policy change that will affect the work of others in a different, but related, department.

As more organizations have moved to electronic media communications, the role of the memo has changed. Some organizations find a reduced number of print-based memos circulating as those documents are replaced with email or listserv messages. This shift, however, does not mean that memos have no place in the technical world. To the contrary, memos in their print-based form seem to carry with them a strong sense of "permanency" as compared to emails and listserv messages. Often times, the memo becomes a record of an event or situation and is archived for future purposes.

Although brief and conventional in form, a memo can have a great impact. Mistakes in a memo are quickly spotted and might lead to a series of memos in response. As mentioned previously, a memo is one document that is filed as part of an organization's "memory." Memos are often the first documents gathered in legal cases and policy disputes with organizations. Even though the primary audience, purpose, and your role in writing a memo might seem well defined, keep in mind the broader implications of the memo as a document representing you, relationships within an organization, and the organization itself.

During the memo of introduction project, you will learn to

  • Analyze professional cultures and social contexts to determine the purposes that written documents serve.
  • Recognize that all steps in the writing process should be adapted for specific purposes, audiences, and rhetorical situations.
  • Write persuasive, ethically responsible documents that demonstrate—via their form and content—an awareness of the audience’s abilities, needs, and interests.
  • Develop strategies for planning, researching, and developing documents that effectively respond to professional situations.

How do I create my memo of introduction?

Your first assignment in our course is to create a one-page memo of introduction. The purpose of the memo is to introduce yourself to me and other members of the course. Consider, if you will, the class as an organization and yourself as a new member in a highly visible position. Your first task is to introduce yourself and spell out some goals for your new role. With your peers and me as the audience, consider your own role as author of a memo of introduction. You want to make a great first impression on all of us, and you want to provide us with information that will foster strong future working relationships in the course.

Information to discuss in your memo includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the following:

background information

  • What is your major and year in school?
  • Why have you selected this major?
  • What activities, jobs, and internships have you participated in that relate to your chosen field?
  • What are your career plans after graduation?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • What technologies are you familiar with and which ones do you still want to learn (even if those technologies are not related to our course)?

course goals

  • What are some of your rationales for taking this course?
  • What background or experience do you have that will help you work on projects for this course?
  • What types of writing and research projects have you participated in?
  • What is your main goal for this course?

This memo will help me to better understand your goals for enrolling in this course and help you to establish a rapport with your peers and me. Additionally, this assignment challenges you to consider not only the form of a memo but its role within an organization.

What format should I follow?
Your memo should be one single-spaced page. You should use 12 point Times or Times New Roman for the body text of your memo and Arial or other sans serif font for the headings in your memo. Your margins should be 1 inch on all sides. Your memo should be written in full block format using Word. Full block format means no indention at the beginning of paragraphs and left justification. To signal the end of one paragraph and the beginning of another, you should leave one blank line. Do not use a Word memo template for this assignment.

memo header
You should create a memo header of your own--do not use a Word template. Here is an example of a memo header:

The "To" line should identify the intended readers of the memo.

The "From" line should identify the author of the memo and should include written initials of its author.

The "Date" line should be the date of the memo's authoring.

The "Subject" line is the subject of the memo, and it should be descriptive of the memo's purpose.

Please Note: The "NS" depicts "handwritten" initials. You should sign your initials in blank ink near your Name in the memo header.

Sometimes memos contain a "CC" line, which stands for carbon copy. This line denotes others who are receiving the memo but are not directly the audience of the memo. Those persons might be supervisors, administrative assistants, or other members of the organization.

memo body
The body of your memo should address the questions provided above as well as provide other information that you deem pertinent to the assignment. Remember you want to establish a professional and friendly tone of welcome.

Consider the body's development more carefully:

  • Begin your memo with a brief one or two sentence overview that quickly summarizes the purpose of the memo (This summary sentence should not have a subheading, but your other memo sections should).  
  • Offer brief well-organized paragraphs that respond to the questions provided.
  • Add bolded subheadings for sections to help readers locate information of interest more quickly.
  • End your memo with a quick statement of summary (If this were a memo requesting an action, you would end with such a call. As with the opening of your memo, this section should not have a subheading).

To review your memo's design and development, download the Self-check of Memo form.

When do I turn in my memo for evaluation?
Your memo will be graded for both form and content. In terms of formatting, check your fonts, margins, and all other design aspects of the memo. Additionally, be certain that you have addressed all the questions provided and responded in a tone of friendly professionalism.

Please see the course calendar for project due dates.

If you have any questions about the formatting or development of your memo of introduction, please let me know: or 626-7424.

How can we learn more about memos?

purdue's online writing lab/memo writing

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