October, 2009

This Month's Issue

Tips of the Month
Mastering the Business Memo
New at Nonfiction Writing Guide


Welcome to Getting it Write. If you are a new subscriber, you will find tips, articles and opportunities for improving your writing skills. Been with us a while? We're so glad you're here.

This month, we are focusing on simplifying research and writing compelling business memos. We'll also take a look at what's new on Nonfiction Writing Guide, including information about article writing.

So, let's get started!

5 Tips for Researching Anything

  1. Limit Your Sources.
  2. Before you start your research, determine how many sources you will use. This will save you from analysis paralysis because you won't overwhelm yourself with information. Unless you are in a class and the teacher has set a minimum number of references, a good rule of thumb is no more than five sources. The exception is if you are writing a book.

  3. Use Index Cards.
  4. Grab a stack of index cards. On one side, you will write the information you plan to use from the source. On the other, you will write the reference information: author, title, etc. This way, you don't have to worry about attributing a quote incorrectly.

  5. Ask a Librarian.
  6. Reference librarians are amazing. Make full use of the one at your library. He or she can help you find exactly what you need for your paper, article or book.

  7. Consider an Interview.
  8. If there is a known expert in the field you are writing about, consider contacting that person for an interview. You can speak to them on the phone, in person or send them an email list of questions. Getting up to the minute information about your topic will give you an advantage over those using only printed or online sources.

  9. Move Quickly.
  10. Don't spend an excessive amount of time on any one source. Grab what you need and move on. If the topic you are reading about fascinates you, note this on the index card and come back for the book or magazine at a later date.

Have you checked out the our FREE Press Release Writing E-course?

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Master the Business Memo

Memos are a part of business life. Whether you love them or hate them, they don't look to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The standard business memo will only circulate within the company. Seldom are they made public. However, this does not give the writer license to write casually.

A good memo is focused, professional and aimed specifically at its audience, whether a supervisor, co-worker or employee.

So, how can you make sure you get your business memos right?

Here are a few points to consider:

Know the purpose of the memo.
Why are you writing a memo in the first place? Is it to share information? To confirm an earlier agreement with a supervisor or team member? To ask for help with a project?

Determine the purpose of your memo before you start writing to stay focused.

What do you want to tell the reader?
Considering the many types of memos in business, from the information to opinion, it is best if you know what you want to say before you write. If you want to ask for help, what kind of help do you want? Is it general, overall help or assistance with a specific aspect of the project?

Like knowing why you are crafting a memo, knowing what you want to say will help you stay focused. It should cover only one topic. If you need to address multiple issues, create multiple documents.

Be brief.
This is a memo, not a dissertation on the topic. Hit the salient points and be done. Of course, you want to use whatever detail is necessary, but don't go overboard.

Organize your information.
Especially if you are addressing a complex issue, your memo needs to be highly organized. But even if it is talking about cleaning the office fridge, make sure your reader can follow your line of thought easily.

Be plain.
No need to break out the thesaurus. You can and should write in plain language. Use simple words, as you would if you were speaking to the person instead of writing. Fancy language does little more than obscure issues or make you seem pretentious.

With practice and experience, writing solid business memos will become easier. You will stand out as someone with the best interests of the company and its people in mind. And you will be known as someone who can clearly and professionally address any number of issues.

Don't forget to check out the our FREE Press Release Writing E-course?

Sign up to learn the fundamentals of creating press releases that get printed and get results.

New at Nonfiction Writing Guide

Creating a Swipe File Here is a guide for creating one or a series of swipe files to help you craft amazing headlines, write best selling books and feed your muse in any number of ways.

Top 3 Tips for Great Headline Writing Without a strong headline, the rest of your writing might not get read. Learn how to to make your words stand out in the crowd.

Thank you for subscribing to Getting it Write, the free e-zine for Nonfiction Writing Guide. Next month, you will learn tips for researching and how to manage that ever-tricky business memo.
See you next time!


Mary Klaebel