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June 15, 2015


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James Smas

Wonderful piece Lynn, very appropriate. We are focusing on business writing and there some in our group that think memos are outdated. I am sending them your piece and have added one additional point. When the information to be conveyed is confidential, classified, or will be used in legal proceedings, the memo is the only way to go.It is the only way to restrict access to sensitive information.

Hope you find this useful.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Very useful. Thank you, MJS. And good luck with the good fight.


Elizabeth Ulrich

Thank you so much. I agree with Lynn-this is helpful for business students as well as for teachers like myself:-)

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, Elizabeth. I'm glad to have been helpful.


John Mazzarella

I really disagree. I got half way through this and had to check the date, expecting it to have been written in 2003. I think working with paper documents is old fashioned and not a good use of the functionality that technology gives us.

If I got an important memo on paper, I would be confused and annoyed.

How would I reply to give questions, comments, and feedback?

How could I quote passages it in my reply without having to transcribe it manually? Along those lines, I also couldn't easily adapt the phrasing and structure into a larger document to turn the memo into a project plan or proposal.

Where the heck would I even store it to refer back to the message in the future? I have extensive email archives, all of which are searchable through gmail, and I regularly have to pull up a thread from many years ago based on half-remembered words or phrases. There's no text search in my file cabinet!

A lot of what you wrote is helpful as a good way to write a thoughtful memo vs. a short email, but that memo would be more useful if sent by email.

Just my opinion, your company culture dictates a lot of this.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi John,

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you and your reasoning. It was not my assumption that the memo would be printed--only that it might be.


L Monahan

Adding attachments bloats the size of emails and takes up space on email servers. In my opinion, if you can say what you need to say in the body of the email, put it in the body. I've seen too many memo attachments with just a single paragraph.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello L,

I agree that sometimes a message can be communicated efficiently in email. But for the reasons I mentioned above, an attachment often works better.



When you are not to write a memo?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hanna, read Point 1 above. It describes when to use email.


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