Chapter 9: Writing to Inform

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Writing to Inform

Most business writing seeks to inform readers, telling them something important. Right up front, readers want to know what you are writing about (your topic), and why you are writing (your purpose). Then they need well-organized details that explain the topic and purpose, leading to whatever action you want them to take.

You can organize all of your informative messages using the simple SEA formula, which stands for Situation, Explanation, Action. This chapter will show you how.

In this chapter

94

Guidelines Writing to Inform

Your goal when writing to inform is to present the information effectively and invite the reader’s response.

  1. Plan: (Ideas and Organization)

    • Think about your readers—what they already know and what they need to know.

    • Ask yourself what you want your readers to do. What will success look like for this message?

    Prepare to draft.

    • Consider what your reader wants or expects.

    • Gather work-related reasons for your news.

    • If appropriate, explore other options for the reader.

  2. SEA
  3. Draft: (Ideas, Organization, and Voice)

    Remember SEASituation (main point), Explanation, Action.

    Opening Identify the topic and explain why you are writing. Present your key point as either a statement, a question, or a request.

    Middle Support your main point with details that clarify the situation, news, and implications. If appropriate, focus on benefits.

    Closing Note any action the reader should take; include steps that may be taken; and add contact information. Indicate who should do what, when, where, why, and how. If action is unnecessary, simply end the message positively and politely.

  4. Revise: (Ideas, Organization, Voice, Words, and Sentences)

    • Have you included accurate details—in the best order?

    • Have you used a businesslike tone with polite attention to the reader’s needs and benefits?

    • Have you used clear, concise wording?

    • Do you have smooth-reading sentences that communicate clearly?

  5. Edit: (Conventions and Design)

    • Have you checked grammar, punctuation, and spelling?

    • Have you checked the format (spacing, type size, fonts, and so on)?

“Good words are worth much, and cost little.”

—George Herbert

Writing to Inform

95

Writing Announcements or Notices

96

Writing Updates

97

Writing Cover Messages

98

Writing Credit Approvals

April 3, 2019

If needed, insert a confirmation notation. Confirmation of email sent March 26, 2019

Mr. Grant Bostwick, President

Dale’s Garden Center

484 Leeward Avenue, SE

Tuscaloosa, AL 35406-3770

Dear Mr. Bostwick:

Opening: State the approval positively. Thank you for requesting a credit account at Cottonwood Hills Greenhouse and Florist Supply. We are pleased to extend you $100,000 in credit based on Dale’s Garden Center’s strong financial condition. Congratulations!

Middle: To avoid future problems, spell out details or credit terms. Here are some details concerning your account:

  1. You will be billed the first day of the month.

  2. The balance is due within 30 days, interest free.

  3. Any balance owed beyond 30 days will be subject to a 15 percent annual finance charge.

I have enclosed a brochure describing our credit policies and procedures in more detail. Please call me (655-555-3321) if you have any questions.

Closing: Include sales material and anticipate a positive future. Because you indicated that you plan to expand your sales of bedding plants and silk flowers, I have also enclosed our spring catalog with these sections flagged. Mr. Bostwick, we look forward to filling your orders and satisfying your customers. Count on us to help Dale’s flourish!

Yours sincerely,

Signature Salome Nguru

Salome Nguru

Sales Manager

Enclosures 2

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Writing Information Requests

February 22, 2019

Planning & Development Services

Halifax Regional Municipality

P.O. Box 1749

Halifax, NS B3J 3A5

CANADA

SUBJECT: ZONING INQUIRY FOR 219 WELLS ST., HALIFAX, NS

Opening: Put key details up front so that the request makes sense. I represent the purchaser, Hector Coyote, in a transaction for the property noted above, presently owned by Diana Elbach. I’m writing to request information necessary for moving forward with the sale.

Middle: Make your requests politely. Please send me the following information:

  1. According to the owner, the building on the property is being used as a residence with a second unit (an attic apartment). Does this use conform with the current zoning code?

  2. List questions in logical order. Were building and occupancy permits issued for this property? If so, when was each issued? Were conditions attached? If so, what were they?

  3. Does the property meet municipal standards for side- and front-yard clearance? (Please refer to the enclosed survey.)

Closing: Give clear, simple response directions and close politely. Because of the purchase agreement between Ms. Elbach and Mr. Coyote, I need this information by March 1. Please feel free to fax (613-555-7501) or mail your answers on the enclosed form.

Thank you for your assistance.

Signature David S. Wilson

DAVID S. WILSON

DSW/BBK

Enclosures 2

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Writing Invitations

May 28, 2019

Ms. Lorraine Scott

Sales Representative

206 West Dundee Street

Chicago, IL 60614

Dear Lorraine:

Opening: State the invitation politely. Welcome to the Sales Seminar! I hope that you will have a productive week. While you are here, please help us celebrate Rankin’s 20th anniversary.

Middle: Provide the context. This year, we have a lot to celebrate. Our office expansion is finished, and sales grew by 16 percent. On Wednesday, June 2, we would like you to be our guest at the following events:

  • Give all necessary details of the event. an open house from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with hourly tours of the new office, engineering, and manufacturing facilities.

  • a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:00 p.m. on the west lawn, with refreshments served at 4:30 p.m.

Closing: Anticipate participation and offer help. You are a big part of Rankin’s success, Lorraine. I hope that you can take a break from your busy seminar schedule and join us. If you need directions, transportation, or other information, please speak with Rebecca Wright or call Matthew Nicolai at 555-1980, extension 4, or send him an email at mnicolai@rnkn.com.

Sincerely,

Signature Sharissa Hershey

Sharissa Hershey

Vice President of Sales

rh/svw

101

Writing Positive Adjustments

July 8, 2019

Confirmation of email sent July 1, 2019.

Mr. Jamaal Ellison

Southeast Electric

1976 Boulder Road, Suite 1214

Charlotte, NC 28216-1203

Dear Mr. Ellison:

Opening: Provide necessary background, apologize, and offer solutions. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we investigated the malfunction of the ATV16 drives that you had installed for American Linc Company. I apologize for the inconvenience caused to both your company and American Linc. Below is a description of the problem, along with our solution.

Problem:

Middle: Explain causes and solutions clearly in neutral language. Serial-link failure. In response to your report on the malfunction, AC Drives sent a technician to American Linc Company. He determined the cause of the failure to be a defective voltage regulator in the serial-link box.

Solution:

Our technician replaced the voltage regulator and apologized to Jean Snow, plant manager. This morning I wrote an email and a follow-up letter to Ms. Snow in which I acknowledged that the problem was ours (not yours), and I apologized for the inconvenience.

Closing: Express appreciation and focus on future business. Thanks again for alerting us to the problem. With your help, it was resolved promptly. I look forward to future business with Southeast Electric.

Yours sincerely,

Signature Elaine Hoffman

Elaine Hoffman

Product Manager

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Writing Positive Replies to Inquiries

February 25, 2019

Christine and Dale Shepherd

1026 11th Avenue, NE

Aspen, CO 81212-3219

Dear Christine and Dale:

Opening: State the reason for your response and your appreciation for the inquiry. Thank you for your inquiry yesterday about financing your resort project. I enjoyed discussing your project and appreciated your frankness about your current loan with Boulder National Bank.

Although you commented that you will seek an extension of your loan from Boulder National, I have enclosed Aspen State Bank’s commitment letter, subject to the terms we discussed. Perhaps you will consider our package. Middle: Provide the reader with the desired information and stress its value. Rates available are as follows:

15-year fixed rate

5.875%

20-year fixed rate

6.25%

30-year fixed rate

6.25%

In case you do not proceed with the Boulder loan, this commitment will be good for 60 business days from today (February 25). If lower rates are available at closing, you will receive the benefit of that reduction.

Closing: Anticipate and invite future contact. Thank you for your interest. I hope that your project goes well. If we can’t work together on this project, please keep us in mind for future credit needs.

Yours sincerely,

Signature Cara Harrison

Cara Harrison

Loan Officer

Enclosure: Commitment Letter

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Writing Request for Proposal Acceptances

March 22, 2019

Mr. Gavin Farnsworth

Miami Computer Enterprises

1202 South Benton

Miami, FL 33166-1217

Dear Mr. Farnsworth:

Opening: State your acceptance positively. I have reviewed your letter from March 15. In response to your proposal, I am happy to offer my consulting services to Miami Computer customers.

Middle: Stress the benefits of the decision and cover details that need to be clarified or recorded. This arrangement will benefit all parties involved. Together, we will be able to offer your clients “one-stop shopping” for all their computer needs—hardware, software, training, and support. And I will be able to work with your established customer base without having to generate my own.

Therefore, I accept your proposed rate of $45 per hour (minimum of 20 hours per week) as indicated in the amended agreement (outline enclosed). Please note that the bold items on the outline indicate additions to the original proposal. I simply added the items covered in your letter.

Closing: Explore the next step and anticipate a positive outcome. Please let me know of any specific information or documentation that you need to see on my invoices. I look forward to a productive partnership in which we will serve each other and your clients.

Yours sincerely,

Signature Juanita Guiverra

Juanita Guiverra

Enc.: Agreement Outline

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Writing Thank-You Messages

May 14, 2019

Mr. Donald Keebler

Keebler Electronics

466 Hanover Boulevard

Penticton, BC V2A 5S1

CANADA

Dear Mr. Keebler:

Opening: State your thanks directly. On behalf of the entire staff at Hope Services, I want to thank you for helping us choose a sound system that fits both our needs and our budget. Thanks, too, for working around our schedule during installation.

Middle: Provide clear, specific details. We have found that the system meets all our needs. Being able to adjust sound input and output for different uses in different rooms has been wonderful. The system helps staff in the family room with play-based assessment, and team members are tuning in to different conversations as if they were in the room themselves. As a result, children who might feel overwhelmed with too many people in the room can relax and play naturally.

Be personal and professional in tone. In addition, parents also use the sound system to listen in on sessions in the therapy room as therapists model constructive one-on-one communication methods with children.

Closing: Use the reader’s name and stress cooperation and future contact. Thanks again, Donald, for your cooperation and excellent work. I would be happy to recommend your services to anyone needing sound equipment.

Yours sincerely,

Signature Barbara Talbot

Barbara Talbot

Executive Director

105

Writing Apologies

Note: An apology puts the good news up front: an apology, expression of regret, and amends. July 8, 2019

Ms. Joan Meyer

605 Appleton Avenue

Green Bay, WI 53401

Dear Ms. Meyer:

Opening: Be positive, and provide your main point (the apology). Indicate how you will make amends. Thank you for choosing Magnolia Grand! We apologize that your confirmed room was unavailable last night. For your trouble, there will be no charge for last night’s lodging, and we’ve upgraded your room at no expense to you.

We make every effort to accommodate guest requests, but when several guests did not depart as scheduled, we were forced to change your accommodations. Middle: Explain what caused the problem, repeat the apology, and reiterate how you have addressed the situation.We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but hope the upgrade and free night make up for this change. As always, our goal is to offer you outstanding service and genuine hospitality.

Should you need any assistance, please call the front desk or contact me directly at extension 408. Closing: Stress further assistance and continued satisfaction.We hope you enjoy the remainder of your stay with us. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and patronage.

Yours sincerely,

Signature Mary-Lee Preston

Mary-Lee Preston

Front Office Manager

MP/AM

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Checklist Writing to Inform

Your goal when writing to inform is to present the information effectively and invite the reader’s response.

My writing . . .

  • Ideas

    • has a main point, and all supporting points are clear, precise, and accurate.

    • supplies readers with all the necessary information.

  • Organization

    • has an opening that provides necessary background and presents the key point as either a statement, a question, or a request.

    • has a middle that expands the main point by adding supporting details while explaining benefits to the reader.

    • has a closing that calls for action, stresses continued contact, offers help, and/or focuses positively on the future by answering who should do what, when, where, why, and how.

    • follows the SEA organization pattern.

  • Voice

    • uses a businesslike and polite voice that is not rushed or abrupt.

  • Words

    • uses everyday language (plain English) as much as possible.

    • defines words unfamiliar to readers.

  • Sentences

    • states the main point in a clear sentence.

    • contains helpful transitions and reads well aloud.

  • Correctness

    • is free of errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and keyboarding.

  • Design

    • uses correct format for a letter, a memo, or an email.

    • includes white space and easy-to-read type.

    • organizes ideas, points, and details using numbers, bullets, or graphics.

“For most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news.”

—Gloria Borger

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