Letters, Memoranda, Email, and Other Media for Engineers
Letters, Memoranda, Email, and Other Media for Engineers As a professional engineer, you need to get familiar with the style, format, and organization of business
communications WHICH TO USE? If you have a question for someone in your building, run down the hall and ask in person. If its to someone within your organization but at a different location, send email or write a memo. If its to someone external to your organization, send an email or text message or write a business letter. If its urgent or informal, make a telephone call or
send an email or text message Phone, Text Message, or Paper? In telephone or face-to-face communication, these are the issues: 1. Permanent record: There is no record of what transpires in your phone conversation 2. Availability of the recipient: Mobile phones have reduced the problem known as telephone tag. Still, recipients of a
communication may not be in their ofces or able to answer their mobile phone. 3. Attitude of recipients. Recipients may not take the phone, text-message, or in-person communication as seriously as they would if it were in writing. 4. Purpose, length, and complexity of the topic. Some topics are just too much for a conversation. For example, you cant present details of product specications or a proposal over the phone.
Email, Instant Messages, or Paper? Email, Instant Messages, or Paper? Email and instant messages eliminate the bother of stamps, envelopes, and mailboxesnot to mention the delay in delivery and response. Unlike telephone communication, email doesnt require its recipients to be in the right place at the right timethey can read it when they are ready.
Here are the issues to consider: 1. Recipients. Obviously, if recipients dont have email, cant readily access email, or just do not like it, printed letters or memos are necessary. 2. Need for reply or forwarding. If the letter or memo contains pages that the recipient must ll out and send, hardcopy may be preferable. 3. Security issues. As Ed Krol pointed out in The Whole Internet Users Guide and Catalog in the early days of the Internet, you can assume that any email you send has a chance of being seen by anyone in the world. Think
twice about sending condential information (new product specications, condential data about a project, or sensitive information about a colleague) by email. 4. In-person discussion of the memo. If the message must be used in a face-to-face situation, print may be preferable. If everybody must print the memo for the meeting, you might as well send it in print and thus eliminate a potential snag. 5. Importance or length of the information. For some, even now deep into the age of the Internet, email lacks the feeling of settled, established information. It seems light, ephemeral
not a medium for serious business. Some people are less likely to take an electronic message seriously than they are a hardcopy memorandum or letter. 6. In-your-face factor. For some, a printed memo sitting on their desk just cannot be avoided. Of course, that depends for some professionals, hardcopy mail is more inconvenient than email. Ultimately, you have to base your decision on which medium your colleagues are most in the habit of using. Letters and Memos
Memo (memorandum) Written communication within an organization such as a business company, university, and government agency. Business letter Written communication among members who are not in the same organization Business Letters Note that not all of the components are necessary to be
included in each letter Faceto-face, telephone, and email communications are just not right for certain kinds of correspondence Use a hardcopy letter 1. If you want to make sure that the recipient receives it and takes it seriously 2. If you want the recipient to study it at length 3. If the communication is long and packed with information 4. If you want a permanent record of communication Business Letters Standard Components
Company or personal logo Usually on the first page only. If you use sheet with logo, start your letter about 2.5cm below it Heading Senders address and date. If you are using stationary, only the date is needed Inside address Name, title, company, and address of the recipient
Subject line announce topic or purpose of the letter letterhead Salutation Dear Sir/Madam: or To Whom It May Concern: or Dear Department members:, or Where no obvious recipient exists or where the recipient does not matter, omit the salutation. It is better if you know exactly whom you are writing to, call the
recipients organization (ask also for the title and the department name). Dear Recruitment officers: Note that the salutation for business letters is punctuated with a colon. A comma implies a friendly nonbusiness communication Body of the letter Single space text inside the paragraph, and double space between paragraphs
Complementary close Sincerely yours, or Best Regards, or etc. Signature block This is a blank area for the signature, followed by your typed name, title, and organization. In professional correspondence, dont forget to include these letters that identify the degree or title that you worked hard to earn End notations Such as Cc: and Encl.: abbreviations come below the
signature block. The first set is the initials of the sender and typist, respectively, JMC. Labels such as Encl.: Enclosure: or Attachments: "indicate that other documents have been attached: Encl.: specifications. Cc: followed by one or more names indicates to whom a copy of the letter was sent Bcc: identifies blind recipients If you receive a letter with Bcc: at the bottom, the people whose names follow Bcc: do not know
that you received the letter, nor do they know that you know that they received the letter Following pages If you use letterhead stationary, use the matching stationary (the same quality and style of paper but without the letter head) Common Business Letter Formats Standard Block Letter This is the easiest and most
commonly used letter format All elements are flush left All serious communications use this format Common Business Letter Formats Standard Semi-Block Letter Similar to the
block format except that the heading, complimentary close, and signature block are on the right margin The same as the semi-block
format except that it adds a subject line and omits the complimentary close Business Memoranda For internal communication in an organization, use memorandum format 1. A call for employees to attend a general meeting
2. A reminder that status reports are due 3. A request to an employee to provide information The actual contents of a memo can be very much like those of a business letter or like those of a short report Business Memoranda Standard Heading Date, To:, From:, and Subject Body of memo single spaced paragraph, and double space between paragraphs
Complementary close some times not included Signature block Email Writing Make the email brief. No one like to read long pages on the screen Make the subject line specific to make sure the email will be read Important information at the beginning Short paragraphs, and make spaces between
them Email Writing (Important Email Functions) Save email into files or folders: Organize your sent and received email into meaningful folders. For example: clients, staff, projects. friends & family Keep copies of email you send: You may need it later either because the email was lost or because you need to remember what you wrote in it Use templates: if you have standard contents set up a
template Attach files for emails Search email folders: Know how to search email folders for topics or names of recipients and senders. Create and use aliases and distribution lists: Increase your email efficiency by creating aliases (short abbreviations for email addresses) and distribution lists ( groups of related email addresses, such as those for staff or customers). Use a signature: If you need to include your full
name, title, organization, phone and fax numbers, etc. In your email, set up a signature. It automatically pops that information into every mail you send or reply to. Email Writing Format and Style Informality: Adjust the tone of your email according to the recipients and situation. Think twice about using humor, sarcasm, and informality with business clients and higher level management-especially those whose native language is not English
Brevity: Email messages are normally rather short, under a dozen lines Specific subject line: To ensure emails get read and has the desired impact, make the subject line specific and compelling Important information first Short paragraphs and space between paragraphs Recommendations for Business Writings (for letters, memos, and emails) Indicate the topic in the first sentence
Be brief and go to the point Indicate any situation or preceding communication based on last phone call or based on our meeting in the company or referring to your letter dated June 1st , 2005 Keep paragraphs short. Divide the communication to paragraphs when the topic changes Use lists and paragraphs if necessary Be clear if you expect any response form the readers
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