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an example of parallel structure

Workplace Writing

Memos and Reports


Memos are most often communications sent to groups of persons, and are often addressed to "staff," "faculty members," "board members," "department heads," and so forth. Memos deliver information that is important or urgent and that cannot wait for a meeting, or they may be used to provide a written record of an oral communication.

While memos (or memoranda, the plural of memorandum) are not often labeled as such these days, the format for these internal company communications has not changed since the introduction of e-mail, and memos are still important for communicating policies, changes of policy, confirmation and acknowledgments, and notices of events or urgent company news.

Because memos are a medium of corporate communication, they should be clear and concise. Plan the contents of a memo as you would plan an outline, beginning with the most important point and following that with supporting points, if any.

As with any important written communication, do not be satisfied with a first draft of a memo. The time spent carefully editing a memo for accuracy, clarity, and conciseness is less than the time it will take and the confusion it may cause to send out another memo labeled "correction."

The following is the format for the heading of a memo and an informal report.






Like a memo, an informal business report is used for internal company communication and is concise, clear, and to the point; however, a report is more lengthy and contains more detail than a memo. A report usually concludes with a recommendation or suggestions.

A business report can extend to several pages. In fact, some formal reports are the length of books and are bound and distributed to stockholders or to others who may have a vested interest in a company. These formal reports may have many sections, including a table of contents, tables and figures, an executive summary, conclusions, recommendations, a bibliography, a glossary, and an index. Examples of these formal reports include feasibility studies, such as the viability of a proposal to construct a manufacturing plant overseas, or a market assessment of a proposed product line.

The audience of an informal business report is usually more limited than that of a memo. Informal reports go to the person or committee who requested the report, and to others that they determine; in general, however, a few decision makers are recipients.

The sample business report below is a summary of the results of a survey of visitors to a career fair. The fair was conducted by an event organizer for a municipal convention center, and an independent survey company has attempted to measure the success of the fair.

Notice that report comprises a background describing the purpose of the survey, a brief explanation of how the survey was conducted, the results of the survey, and suggestions or recommendations for future career fairs.



memo one

memo two


report one a

report one b