Memo Organisation

Aims: This exercise is to show you the organisation of a memo and how to use sub-headings to improve the clarity.

Instructions: Read the memo on the right, then answer the questions on the left. The answers are not as easy as they seem, so read the memo carefully and think about Hugo Tsang's aim.

  1. Why has Hugo Tsang presented the information in this order?
    [Click here for the answer]
  2. Why has Hugo Tsang used headings in bold?
    [Click here for the answer]

    << Click here to the previous exercise, on Letter Format and Layout

    >> Click here to the next exercise, on Memo Formality


To:        Sandra Lai, Manager
From:    Hugo Tsang, Staff Liaison Committee
Subject: Smoking in the office building

The Staff Liaison Committee would like to draw your attention to the issue of smoking in the office building.

A number of staff have reported persistent respiratory illnesses while others believe that cigarette smoke in the company's offices is unpleasant. Recently the Staff Committee discussed this issue and voted by a majority of 19 to 18 to propose banning cigarette smoking in the company's offices.

The staff in favour of banning smoking believe that the overall comfort and health of staff would improve if this change were to happen. This could reduce illness and staff absenteeism and ultimately increase productivity.

The Staff Liaison Committee would like you to consider this issue and the possibility of banning smoking in the company's offices.


  1. Hugo wants to present the information logically: what caused the memo, the investigation and finally the request for action.
    (Note: He has cleverly 'hidden' the fact that non-smokers only have a majority of 1 in the middle of the text, emphasising the request for action and the fact that the memo comes from the Staff Liaison Committee. He is attempting to influence Sandra to implement the request, even though many people voted against it.)

    For you to think about:
      If you were Sandra Lai,
    • would you know how many staff are on the Staff Liason Committee, and did they all attend the meeting?
    • would you know how powerful the smokers on the committee are?
    • would this memo give you all the information you need to make a decision?
    • would you ban smoking?

    transparentdot.gif (54 bytes)

  2. Bold headings are clearer : the different parts are separated and summarised.






Last updated on: Monday, March 26, 2012