Peter J Wilcoxen

How to Write a Policy Memo

Materials from the July 2018 Maxwell Colloquium.


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

Policy Scenario

Alphaville Ride Sharing Proposal
Description of the proposed policy.
Alphaville Survey and Betatown Experience
Data available.
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

Sketch of Finished Memo
A PDF showing headings and content for each section in the memo.

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.


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 07/03/2018