Analyzing Example Memos

This is the post for the July 18, 2014 class meeting.

We got a head start on analyzing memos with the Microsoft email message yesterday. Today, we’ll look at examples that are similar to the memo you can write if you are aiming for an A on Project 2.

Class Work for July 18

These are the tasks to complete for today’s work:

  • Discuss your focus for Project 2.
  • Take a look at the Microsoft memo (if you haven’t done so already).
  • Read and discuss some example memos analyzing tech writing documents.
  • Be sure you are comfortable with Google Drive’s spreadsheet tool.

Focus for Project 2

Thank you for your posts about your careers and fields of study. They look quite impressive, and everyone seems focused well for this assignment. You all have a great start on the second project.

In case you missed the question in the forums, don’t panic if you find that you have an empty slot on your spreadsheet. If one of the columns is irrelevant for one of the documents you have listed that is okay. Likewise, if you cannot find an example of the document online to link to, that’s okay too. Remember, however, that you need to account for those empty spaces in your reflection memo when you turn in your work next week.

If you have any other questions about Project 2, post them in the Questions about Project 2 topic in the forum or email me.

Looking at the Microsoft Memo

If you haven’t done so already, take a look at the Microsoft layoff memo that was posted yesterday and read through your classmate’s responses. Add your own response if you’d like. I’d like everyone to have the opportunity to weigh in. Focus on the memo as a piece of technical writing, and try not to let your love (or hatred) of Windows get in the way of your analysis.

Discussing Example Memos

The example memos included on on the Project 2 assignment page were written by students who were analyzing a piece of technical writing in their field using the six characteristics of technical writing that are explained in Markel, Chapter 1. If you are aiming for an A, these memos are similar to what you need to write (though they are a bit longer).

Today, I want you to review them and think about what makes some better than others. It’s useful to understand what makes a good memo even if you aren’t aiming for an A. You will probably write more memos (in the form of email messages) than anything else during the arc of your career.

Here’s what you should do by midnight Sunday in your timezone:

  1. Read through the Example Analysis Memos. You don’t have to read every word, but look at them well enough to get a sense of how they work, what they do well, and what they could improve on.

  2. Go to the Discussion of Example Memos topic in the forums and weigh in on which of the examples seemed more effective. You can quote someone else’s post or just start in on your own ideas. You will find some guiding questions in the forum post.

Setting Up Your Spreadsheet

Just to repeat the note from yesterday:
If you have never worked with the spreadsheet tool in Google Drive before, please explore it a little bit before the weekend so that you can ask any questions you need to. You can set up your spreadsheet similar to the example, but feel free to add or change the column headings to fit the writing in your field.

If you need a tutorial, go to the Virginia Tech login for, and then watch the section on Working with spreadsheets. You are only entering text in your spreadsheets, so you don’t need to worry about making calculations or using functions and formulas.