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A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 4th Edition by David A. McMurrey, David F. Beer

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4

LETTERS, MEMORANDA, EMAIL, AND OTHER MEDIA FOR ENGINEERS

A recent … survey found that the average employee spends nearly an hour a day handling e-mail chores. For managers, e-mail tasks usurp closer to two hours each day. It's no wonder people are complaining about e-mail fatigue.

Paul McFedries, “The Age of High (Tech) Anxiety,” IEEE Spectrum, June 2003, p. 56.

The finest eloquence is that which gets things done.

David Lloyd George, 1863–1945.

As a professional engineer, you need to get familiar with the style, format, and organization of business communications. (With contemporary down-sized organizations, it may be a while before you rise high enough in the firm that you can rely on a secretary.) This chapter explores strategies for deciding which medium of communication to use and then moves on to discuss format, style, and organization of business letters, memoranda, and email. The chapter concludes with writing-style issues that apply to any of the media described here.

WHICH TO USE?

Working professionals have at their disposal a variety of communication media. If you have a question for someone in your building, run down the hall and ask in person. If it's to someone within your organization but at a different location, send email or write a memo. If it's to someone external to your organization, send an email or text message or write a business letter. If it's urgent or informal, make a telephone call or send an email or text message. If you want to build your reputation ...

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