Conveying negative information is one of the most difficult tasks you will encounter in business com

Conveying negative information is one of the most difficult tasks you will encounter in business communication. To receive a favorable response, focus on appropriate word choice, tone, and organization—especially how much information to convey to each person and how to layer negative content. Providing the best possible service to internal and external customers hinges on effective communication.

Note: Using templates or sample documents to help you write e-mails, memos, and letters may be helpful for inexperienced writers; however, please be sure to customize the communication so that the document does not look like a form letter to your readers.

After reading the following scenario, determine how to communicate its negative information appropriately to your supervisor or manager, to the members of your project team, and to your travel agent in the scenario.


As a project manager, you are looking forward to completing your project and taking a European vacation with the bonus you and your team are looking forward to receiving. Shortly before bonuses are expected, you realize your team missed the financial goal for the quarter. As a result, you and your team will not receive bonuses. You must notify your manager about the missed goal and your team members about both the missed goal and the loss of the bonuses. And you must also inform your travel agent you are unable to take the trip.

Consider how much information and what communication is appropriate for each party, based on information in your text.
Review the sample formatting for memos, emails, and business letters in Modules 9, 10, 11. Also review Netiquette considerations in Module 13.
Write a letter to one party, a memo to one party, and an e-mail to one party. Each communication must be a maximum of 250 words. Be attentive to appropriate tone, level of detail, and document formatting for each different audience. Use standard formatting for your documents, including headings, body layouts, and closings.
Use appropriate grammar, spelling, and style for each type of communication.
Ensure you have followed the guidelines for communicating effectively. Perform an extra editing check, reading specifically for this purpose.
Post the messages as three separate MS Word documents.


Module 9
Formats for Letters and Memos 

LO 9-1 Apply principles for correct letter formats.
LO 9-2 Apply strategies for professional image creation with documents and beyond.
LO 9-3 Recognize courtesy titles for correspondence.
LO 9-4 Apply principles for correct memo formats.

Module Overview

Some students already know that letters typically go to people outside of an organization, while memos are preferred for internal documents. However, the actual formats for these documents may be less apparent to them. Format refers to the parts of a document and the way they are arranged on the page (PP 9-3).

Formats for e-mail are still evolving, but the standards in this module are applicable for many e-mail systems.

 Teaching Tip: Many colleges provide e-mail at little or no cost to students, and free e-mail is available from various Web companies. However, if you school has a standardized e-mail system, use it as the basis for instruction in your class. Encourage students to learn the system, working through its quirks and style preferences. If it is a widely used system, you might adapt the information here to using it properly.J

Like anything in business, organizational culture and discourse community affect the choice of format for a document. Therefore, the standards expressed in this module may be different than those in individual organizations. Nonetheless, students should learn and use these formats for your course—establishing format standards will help students understand the workings of any document format, making it easier for them to adapt to new ones.

 Teaching Tip: Follow the guidelines in this book for all class documents you submit to your students and expect students to do the same for documents they submit to you.J 

In-Class Exercise: Have students collect examples of what they consider documents formatted well. Let them compare what they’ve found to the principles in this module. How do they overlap? Where they differ, how might the document look if book principles were applied? Can even a good document format be made better? Let students share their findings with the class.!

What’s in This Supplement

This supplement is organized around the major questions posed in Module 9. It covers

Part 1: Key Lecture Points, Teaching Tips, and In-Class Exercises Page 126
Part 2: Answers to Textbook Assignments Page 141

PowerPoint presentations can be found at our Web page at

Questions (with answers) suitable for quizzes are in the Instructor’s Test Bank. For student practice quizzes with answers, see our Web page. 

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