Memo Review Question - Essay Prowess

Memo Review Question

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Example 1
To: Jane Doe
From: John Smith
Date: 6 June 2016
Subject: Travel Request Denial

I regret to inform you that your request for travel funds to travel to the Syllabus Conference in Santa Clara, California, has been denied. The university has limited funds available for travel this year and although I know you really want to go, I can’t afford to give you the $1500 you requested (which by the way is a lot to request at this late date at the current time of this request.

I hope you understand our position because we really want our faculty to be happy. Even though I can’t pay for this trip, I encourage you to apply again for future travel money because I hope to receive more money budgeted for travel the next fiscal year of 2017/18.

Thank you again for your request. I always strive to help faculty fund their travels.

Example 1 Questions:

  1. Describe the first line of the memo and why it is bad to start a memo this way.
  2. What pronoun is mentioned eight times? Explain why using this pronoun may cause the reader to react in a negative manner.


* * * * * * * * * *
Example 2
To: Jane Doe
From: John Smith
Date: 6 June 2016
Subject: Travel Request

Thank you for your interest in new, emerging online technologies. The travel committee reviewed your request to attend the Syllabus Conference in Santa Clara, California in July.

The university increased its travel budget this year by $5,000. However, with the increase in requests we’ve received and because we are close to the end of a fiscal year, we have used all our travel funds for the year. As much as we would like to fund your request, we just do not have the money to do so. Remember, though, that if you have departmental funds available, you may use those. You may also want to check to see if any divisional monies are still available.

I do hope you will be able to attend the conference. Please contact me if you need help finding another source of funding.

Example 2 Questions:

  • Why is this example better than example 1?
  • How does the writer show concern for the reader so the reader will be more prone to react in a favorable manner?


* * * * * * * * * *
Example 3
To: Jane Doe
From: John Smith
Date:   6 June 2016
Subject: Graduate Study

We have finally reviewed your application for graduate study at Colorado State University. Due to the large number of applicants this year, competition was very tough, but luckily, we have recommended you for acceptance.

Also, to keep our students happy, we were fortunate enough to be able to offer a teaching assistantship, whereby you would work 20 hours a week. This assistantship also comes with a non-resident tuition waiver for the first year. If you don’t do well, though, we cannot give you another assistantship.

It occurred to us that you probably don’t have enough information to make a sound decision. The enclosed flyer provides a detailed description of our Cognitive Psychology Program, including the program of study, degree requirements, mentorship program, faculty research interests, and laboratory facilities.

Since other qualified students are on a waiting list for admissions, please notify me in writing of your decision to accept or reject admission as soon as possible.

Example 3 Questions:

  • What information is missing in this memo?
  • The writer uses both first person (I, we, our, etc.) and second person (you, your).
  • When second person is used, is the context positive or negative?
  • After reading the first paragraph, what do you think the reader is expecting?

* * * * * * * * * *
Example 4

To: Jane Doe
From:John Smith
Date:  6 April 2016
Subject: Graduate Study

Thank you for your interest in graduate study at Colorado State University. You have been admitted to our Cognitive Psychology Program beginning with the fall semester of 2017.

The Psychology Department will provide full financial support, including 20 hours a week as a teaching assistant. This assistantship carries a stipend of $2045 per month, as well as a non-resident tuition waiver. As long as satisfactory academic progress is made, this assistantship will continue throughout your graduate career at CSU. The enclosed brochure provides a detailed description of the Cognitive Psychology Program, including the program of study, degree requirements, mentorship program, faculty research interests, and laboratory facilities.


We hope you will join us this Fall. Your undergraduate record, interests, and experience indicate that you will gain much new and exciting knowledge at CSU. Please notify me in writing of your decision to accept or reject this offer, prior to April 15. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 555.555.5555.


Example 4 Questions:

  • Why is example 4 more effective than example 3? Give some examples and explain.
  • What information does the writer give the reader that none of the other examples provided?
  • Would the reader react more favorable to this memo than others? Explain why or why not.

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