Memo To Those Who Write Memos:

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This is the 25th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.


Art Buchwald tells of the kid who visited his father’s office. When asked what his father did, the kid said, “He sends pieces of paper to other people and other people send papers to him.”
When you draft a memo, remember other people love to “correct” drafts.
The more textually taut you keep it, the less chance for others to pounce on it.
The Lord’s Prayer has 71 words.
The Ten Commandments have 297.
The Gettysburg Address has 271.
The legal marriage vow has two.
General McAuliffe at the Bulge made his point in one: “Nuts!”
For practice, send your memo to yourself as a straight telegram at your own expense.
Chances are, the less your telegram costs, the more effective your memo is.


I think this applies to all forms of writing; the briefer the better.

I had written about this topic before, and so in keeping with the theme of this post, I’ll end this blog here…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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