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Chapter 10. Solving Problems Through Let... > Analyzing the Administrative Writing...

Analyzing the Administrative Writing Process

Jay Dalton wasn't an experienced technical writer for nothing; he knew how to solve problems with memos and letters. The process he went through can be outlined as follows:

  1. Isolate and articulate the specific problems that need to be solved.

  2. If more than one problem needs to be solved and the problems are not related, then prioritize the problems and take them on in separate letters or memos.

  3. If the audience is internal, write a memo.

  4. If the audience is external, write a letter.

  5. If the problem is a personnel problem within an organization, write a letter. A letter carries more official weight than the informal memo does.

  6. Follow the conventions of administrative writing (see Figure 10.3) for structuring the documentation.

  7. Clarify the literal purpose by writing a draft of the documentation. The writing of a draft may bring up the principle behind the specific problem; in other words, drafting is actually part of the thinking process in writing and is not an indicator that the author is inefficient or inexperienced. Especially if the issue is one the author feels strongly about, the documentation should be drafted and revised. If the author writes a memo or letter about something that really makes him or her angry, writing a draft will allow the author to vent emotions that, if sent along in the final document, might alienate the reader. There's nothing wrong with indicating one's displeasure, but the drafting process allows the writer to decide how much to tone down the language, not necessarily to save the reader's feelings but rather to protect the writer.

  8. Once the literal purpose is clear, state it in the first paragraph of the document. Be sure to make the document conclusive. Therefore, if the document is intended to relay an opinion, state it up front. Don't lead up to it dramatically in the final paragraph.

  9. Review the draft for its implications. Check through all the elements that contribute to an implied reading of the document.

  10. If the memo is intended to propose a solution to a certain problem, then present the reader with alternatives to choose from.

  11. If the memo is intended to transmit a policy or solution to subordinates, then present a rationale as well. Remember that subordinates, even if they don't hold professional titles, deserve the courtesy of basic explanations.

  12. Proofread the document after it is typed or word processed. Remember that the signator is responsible for any errors in the document, whether or not the signator is responsible for the actual word processing.



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