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Curriculum and Student Achievement

Good/Neutral News Correspondence

Good/neutral news letters and memos are typically written in three parts: a statement of context and purpose (why), a description of the issues (what), and a request that some action be taken (action).

{WHY} In the first paragraph, you must set up your context and purpose. You will present any good news in this paragraph.

Context: "Thank you for your interest in graduate study at Colorado State University."

Good news/Purpose: "You have been admitted to our Cognitive Psychology Program beginning with the fall semester of 2000."

{WHAT} To understand the good news/neutral news letter or memo format, you need to know your objective. Are you trying to persuade, to inform, to advise, and/or to get your reader to act? In this section, you describe the situation. You also provide reader benefits, showing how the reader will benefit from the news. Be specific and address all questions you think the reader may have. Depending on the scenario, you may have one body paragraph or several. Typically, persuasive memos require several body paragraphs.

Reader benefits: "The Psychology Department will provide full financial support, including 20 hours a week as a teaching assistant. This assistantship carries a stipend of $1045 per month, as well as a non-resident tuition waiver."

Description: "The enclosed brochure provides a detailed description of the Cognitive Psychology Program, including the program of study, degree requirements, mentorship program, faculty research interests and laboratory facilities."

{ACTION} Your final paragraph should establish goodwill, include a call to action, and provide a way for the recipient to get back to you. In other words, you want your readers to feel good about you and your message, to know what you need them to do, if anything, and to be able to contact you via phone or email.

Goodwill: "We hope you will join us this Fall. Your undergraduate record, interests and experience indicate that you will gain much exciting knowledge at CSU and will enjoy success as a graduate student."

Call to action: "Please notify me in writing of your decision to accept or reject our offer, by April 15."
Contact information: "If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at (555) 555-5555."