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Give Your Reader Sufficient Background 21 For example, suppose you discovered this morning in reading the just-released bimonthly sales report that your sales are declining more rapidly in the Western Division than in the Eastern Division. You believe there may be several reasons for this phenomenon, some of which could be related to the overall category decline, and some of which are probably not. However, the plan you're recommending in the memo at hand is a nationwide plan, and does not attempt to address differences among regions. While the difference in sales results between the Eastern and Western Divisions is an important subject, it needs to be addressed in a separate memo exploring the issue and possible causes. If you mention it for the first time in the background of the memo you're writing now, your reader will appropriately want to know much more about the issue--how severe is the difference, what are the key causes, how long has the difference been going on, and so forth. All of these questions will detract from your reader's attention to the document at hand, which concerns the nationwide plan. Caution Too much information in the background is just as problematic as too little. Your reader may not sift through the unimportant data you've presented in order to find what is important. The material to include in a background section is very dependent on the subject of the document, and the key issues that have the most impact on the subject. You must evaluate the need to ensure that your reader is informed on all important aspects of the subject, balanced by the need to keep your document concise and focused. Caution Don't try to "sell" your recommendation or conclusions in the background--use it for laying out the facts. Use the recommendation or conclusions section to convince your reader to agree with your proposals.