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Lesson 5. Give Your Reader Sufficient Ba... > The Background in Action - Pg. 19

Give Your Reader Sufficient Background 19 Adequately addressing these two questions is a balancing act. The correct balance depends on the complexity of the issues your document addresses, the importance of the document, and whether the document is likely to be distributed further by the original recipients. As a rule of thumb, the more complex, more important, and more likely to be forwarded the document is, the less you should assume your audience knows about your subject, and thus, the more infor- mation you should provide in the Background. The Background in Action Suppose you're the manager of the leading brand of shortening used for baking and frying foods. You're writing a memo to recommend a specific action plan to increase shortening usage in both baking and frying. Volume in the shortening category has been declining steadily for many years, and although your brand is dominant in the category, the brand's volume has been declining at roughly the same rate as the category. This information is probably well known to anyone in the management of the company, particularly since it's been going on for many years, and is therefore probably not an important fact to include in the background of your document. Plain English An action plan is the set of steps you plan to take to achieve some specified goal. The steps should follow one another in sequential order, and proceed logically to establishing the goal. However, suppose category-wide use of shortening in baking has recently begun declining much more rapidly than its use in frying. While people who work directly with your division may know this, it's likely that people in the company who are not as closely aligned with the division may not, and thus, the rapid decline in baking usage may be an important background fact. Using this same example, suppose a competitor, in the past six months, introduced a new shortening