Peter J Wilcoxen

How to Write a Policy Memo

Materials from the Maxwell MPA Colloquium.


Presentation file
The Powerpoint part of the presentation as a PDF.

Policy Scenario

Impacts of the Alphaville Ride Sharing Tax Proposal
Excel spreadsheet used for the analysis
Impacts of the Alphaville Ride Sharing Tax Proposal
PDF of a spreadsheet analyzing the policy.

Building the Memo

Storyboarding the Memo
PDF file showing the storyboard process.

Detailed Suggestions

Tips on Writing a Policy Memo
There's no single formula for writing an effective policy memo because every policy is different. However, here are a few guidelines that may help.
More Tips on Writing a Policy Memo
Here are a few additional Do's and Don'ts about writing policy memos.

Representative Grading Rubric

Rubric from Economics for Public Decisions
This is for my sections of the course; other instructors will use different rubrics.


Strunk, William and E.B. White, The Elements of Style
Almost 100 years old but still a concise source of excellent advice.
Smith, Catherine F, Writing Public Policy
More recent and focused on public policy.
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Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 07/06/2017