Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
MSD 164
Course Title:
Better Memos and Letters
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

This 10-hour workshop teaches effective writing skills for the work place. Topics include learning how to begin writing and when to stop, becoming more efficient and confident, learning what to include and what to avoid in memos and letters. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

  • Explain what to include and what not to include in memos and letters.
  • Describe how basic rules for writing clarity impact all writing
  • Compare a variety of writing samples to determine simple changes to make them more effective.
  • Explain the importance of "putting yourself in the receiver's shoes" when preparing a written letter or memo.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Select a sample of a written letter and make the appropriate changes to increase its effectiveness.
  • Demonstrate how individual writing style can blend with company standards.
  • Describe how to deal with and avoid writer's block.
  • Create samples that illustrate the differences between the internal reader vs. the external reader.
  • Apply learned skills through an outside project.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Describe various methods for writing difficult messages.
  • Explain the differences between writing for the "internal" and "external" reader.
  • Identify key elements when writing a letter vs. a memo.
  • Demonstrate techniques for effectively overcoming writer's block.
  • Recognize how to "putting yourself in the receiver's shoes".
  • Demonstrate wording appropriate when writing a negative message.

General Concepts
Writing can be creative and effective when elements such as audience, purpose, interests, and humor are considered along with some basic rules. 

Integrating creative ideas into difficult situations can expand writing comfort levels.

Creative problem solving methods will help overcome obstacles like writer€™s block and lack of motivation.