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Writing Memos

Thursday, October 06, 2022 3:42 PM | Kate Stuart (Administrator)

As paralegals we will often be asked to present information in written format, whether it be a quick email or a more formal memo or something in between. I cannot stress enough the importance of clean, concise writing; the use of good, readable font; and copy editing.

A memo, properly, should hark back to those 5-paragraph essays we all wrote in the seventh grade. They provide a solid structure and keep tight boundaries on the scope of the writing.

As Dale Carnegie said, tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said. More than anything, particularly in the context of a memo, this lets your boss know the key conclusion right up front.

Make your memo easy to read. Make sure the font you are using is clean and crisp. A year or so ago, there was a big buzz to make Garamond the new standard font. Garamond is a pretty font, but it lacks crispness and is a little difficult to read for long periods of time. This is something to keep in mind, particularly if you’re a little younger. The older people in your office are going to have problems reading certain fonts. Also, remember is this is a motion to be filed, some courts have rules regarding which font types are acceptable.

And last, though not least, copy edit. Don’t just copy edit your spelling and grammar, but pay attention to your spacing; are you using the same type of justification along all your paragraphs; are you using n-dashes or m-dashes; are your ellipses all the same (either … or . . .)? These are little things that your boss may not even notice, but if they do notice then it will be an annoyance and detract from your message. 

Don't let sloppiness hide your brilliance!

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Heartland Paralegal Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 

Heartland Paralegal Association, 12641 Antioch Rd., Suite 1038, Overland Park, KS 66213

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