Writing Professional Emails and Memos

The Paralegal Resource
September 13, 2012 — 1,052 views  
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Communicating via email and memo in a professional setting is much different than using these methods in a more casual environment. The technical side is the same, but the content needs to be constructed with a professional audience in mind, leaving no doubt about the professional intent of the sender. Sending an informal email or memo in a professional setting can send the wrong message and can render any legitimate content either unread or simply ignored.

Email

Before an email is written, it is important to make sure the writer is aware of and understands the organization's email policies. There may be instances where certain subjects should not be discussed through email or other electronic communication, or there may be other rules associated with the composition or content. The writer should also consider the following Netiquette (Network Etiquette) rules when writing an email:

  • Make sure the email is business related
  • Keep message brief; do not quote long passages in a reply. Paraphrase and use short quotations instead
  • Write correctly, using standard English and make sure to proofread before sending
  • Use the level of formality appropriate for the situation

When writing the email itself, make sure to use a more standard formatting. The subject line should be to the point and specific to the subject. Include the names of the recipients in the first line as a sign of respect. Keep paragraphs brief and add a space between each one. End politely and include contact information beneath your name.

Memos

Memos provide a more formal document than an email, and should be written in a more formalized style. The first page should be printed on the organization's letterhead, with each subsequent page printed on plain paper. On each page there should be three items on either the upper right or upper left corner: the recipient's name, the memo's date, and the page number.

A professional memo should be organized as follows:

  • Address Block
    - To:
    - From:
    - Subject: Subject should be specific and concise
    - Date:
  • Summary - Even if the memo is relatively short, the      length of a page for instance, a brief summary should be included here.
  • Discussion - The discussion section is the detailed content of the memo. May begin with any background information the reader(s) will need to know before launching into the purpose of the memo. The discussion should always end with a conclusion paragraph that incorporates the facts presented in a statement of meaning.
  • Recommendation - What the writer would like the reader(s) to do next. May include a list of action items the writer would like to see take place.

When constructing professional correspondence, professionalism and decorum are always important. It is also important to be aware of the organizations policies and procedures concerning both physical and electronic communication.

The Paralegal Resource