Secretarial Studies

Section XXV: Transferring

The busy man usually hesitates to send for transferred correspondence, because he knows he must endure exasperating delay, often never getting it at all. And why? Merely because the same care which secures efficiency in the correspondence system is so rarely applied to the important transfer files. The first question to be asked is, “What scheme of transferring will best suit my business?” Our experience has developed three practical plans, the choice governed by the character of correspondence and frequency of reference to older papers.

Figure LXIV: Loose Sheet Transfer Case

The Method - PLAN 1. The simplest way is to transfer into boxes the entire contents of the current file at stated yearly periods. The only record necessary is the notation on the box labels of their contents and dates:

From ............ To ............

The objection to this plan is that, temporarily, reference to transferred matter is as frequent as to the current file.

PLAN 2. Provide a series of cabinets to hold the correspondence of two years. Half the file only is used for the first year's, and the other half for the second year's, matter. At the end of the second year the correspondence in the first year's file, one year old, is transferred and the space thus vacated used for the ensuing or third year's papers. This process is indefinitely repeated.

By filing the current correspondence in the upper two rows of drawers and the past year's in the lower two drawers, the same result is better accomplished. Transfer the older file yearly and drop the contents of the upper rows to the lower. The current papers are thus most accessible with the transfer close at hand. With the double capacity file the previous year's correspondence is always close at hand. The additional cost for cabinets is but little more than for transfer equipment of equal capacity.

Figure LXV: Transfer File Cabinet

PLAN 3. Let the current file run for a period of, say, eighteen months; then transfer all matter more than one year old. Fill the transfer cases only partly full and mark the labels with the number or letter of the first folder contained in each - as No. 168, or Bar. or Br. 50.

Each six months or a year (always a definite period) repeat the operation and place the correspondence in the same folder and box with that previously transferred.

When a transfer case becomes crowded, a portion of the contents is removed to a new case and placed next the old. As the first folder only is indexed on the box label, it is never necessary to re-label any box. Reference to transferred matter is thus reduced to a minimum.

The work of transferring may be done gradually, as the clerks have spare time, without interfering in any way with the current operation of the file.

A Warning - Whatever system may be used, it is never advisable to remove or transfer such folders as have become too full, leaving the others but partly filled in the file.

Such a method, or rather its lack, can only result in serious confusion.

Everything which bears date prior to the date fixed for transfer should be transferred.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. In previous discussions descriptions have been given of various transfer systems as applied to a particular method. There are three different methods applied to transferring in general. Describe them.

  2. How do transfer cabinets differ from those used in the regular current filing?

  3. What is the object of transferring correspondence?

  4. What do you consider the principal objects to keep in mind in transferring?

  5. Describe the equipment to be used in the transfer files, where the direct alphabetic method of filing has been employed.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager will direct you as to the necessary procedure in transferring the correspondence that has been accumulated.

  2. After assignment 1 has been completed, you will be instructed to file all future letters by the direct alphabetic method. Prepare the necessary folders and guides. When five or more letters to any individual or firm accumulate a special folder should be prepared.

  3. Dictation.

  4. Transcription.

Card Index Systems

Card indexing is simply an extension of the principles learned in filing to other record-keeping and to the filing of other business papers. We have already had examples of the use of the card index in the numeric system of filing and in the follow-up. The card system of record-keeping is adapted to many other important purposes; for example, keeping a publisher's subscription record, real-estate records, quotations given, quotations received, catalogue indexes, stock records, installment collections, etc. We shall select two as typical, “quotations given” and “quotations received.” This will illustrate the uses of cards in record keeping.

Figure LXVI: Card Index Cabinet
Figure LXVII: Quotations Given Card

The information the “quotations given” card should contain is shown in Figure LXVII. The small numbers at the top indicate “follow-up” dates. The cards are filed back of regular alphabetic guides, as shown. Whenever a quotation is given by letter, “phone, or wire,” it should be noted on the card, with the date. If it is desired to “follow-up” the quotation, a small, movable indicator may be slipped over the top of the card indicating the date of follow-up. These indicators are manufactured in different colors to enable the file clerk to indicate by color some particular information.

If a second “follow-up” is needed the indicator may be moved over to the required date at the time it is first followed. This form of card provides a continuous record of each quotation given any one firm or individual. The “quotations received” card, similar to the quotation given card, has an important function. Prices secured should always be made a matter of record, so that, in getting future estimates, comparison with previous quotations may be made. Different kinds of guides may be used. “Subject” guides are commonly used, and perhaps are the best form for most businesses.

Figure LXVIII: Metal Tabs in Use

The foregoing systems of filing are also applied to checks, commercial reports, ledgers, etc. As the principles of filing and indexing are practically the same, no extended description is needed to understand their operation. Some firms make a practice of filing all checks, notes, drafts, etc., with the original bill for which they are issued, in order that the entire transaction may be shown in a convenient form.

Document files may be arranged either on the alphabetic or subject plan. Documents are first prepared with proper indorsements, folded, and then filed vertically. They may be filed by subject, as, for example, “contracts,” “deeds,” “specifications,” alphabetically or numerically.

Tickler - A “tickler” is simply another form of follow-up, used for various purposes. It is usually in the form of a card drawer, or flat tray of letter size, furnished with a set of thirty-one numeric guides. Any matters that need to be brought to attention at a certain time are indicated on cards and placed behind the guide that shows the date. The “tickler” is used principally for calling up matters during the month, but it can be extended by the addition of a set of twelve monthly guides and the same method of follow-up employed as is indicated in the second follow-up method shown.

Extension of the Study of Filing - The student will find that the catalogues issued by the chief filing equipment manufacturers contain valuable information for study. The manager will have a file of these in his office. It is recommended that “Indexing and Filing,” by E. R. Hudders, and “Filing Systems,” by E. A. Cope, be read. These books may be obtained in most large libraries.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Brief mention was made of the use of cards in the discussion of the numeric system of filing. How may card indexes be used in other ways?

  2. What use is made of movable indicators?

  3. Describe the use of the “card system” of filing to any problem with which you are familiar.

  4. What particular advantage do you conceive the card system of filing to have in connection with mailing lists?

  5. What is done with cards that are no longer active?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager will provide a list of names and other data which are to be transferred to cards and filed under the following methods:

    1. Alphabetic

    2. Geographic

    3. By months

    4. By days of the week

    5. By days of the month

  1. Dictation.

  2. Transcription.

Section XXVI: Receiving and Giving Instructions

The correct interpretation of instructions given is basic in carrying them out effectively. The stream of business is kept constantly flowing through the medium of instructions from directing heads. The thoroughness and the intelligence with which these instructions are carried out usually measure the efficiency of an organization, providing the instructions in the first place are based on sound business sense. As the directing heads of a business usually are men of sound business sense, the secretary generally is on sure ground when he follows his employers instructions to the letter. The personal equation enters into the question, however, and it is always well to remember that infallibility is not an attribute of human beings.

Most instructions are given verbally, and oftentimes hurriedly. The secretary must be sure that he understands instructions that are given to him to be followed or to be transmitted to others. Questions should be asked to clear up doubtful points. It is never safe to jump at conclusions.

It will be far better if all instructions are written, for then there will be a record of them. Unfortunately this is not always possible in business, where decisions must be made promptly and the activities of an office must move along rapidly. The secretary, however, has an advantage over the ordinary employee in a business office. He has his shorthand which can be used to take down instructions verbatim. This is a far safer practice than to trust to memory. The effect on the employer also is good. Knowing that he is being “reported,” he is more apt to frame his instructions logically and to state them in precise language.

The first step, therefore, in receiving instructions is to understand them and to put them down in short- hand so that the important items will be emphasized. The next step is to organize the different factors. This is especially necessary where the instructions overlap. A little attention to this detail will save time and prevent confusion.

Instructions should be carried out at once after being received. If the secretary has made notes of the instructions, he should likewise make notes of what action has been taken, and especially a notation of any changes that have been necessary for the practical carrying out of instructions. Very often instructions are conditional. If so and so happens, the secretary is to do thus and so. Then the question of judgment enters.

Instructions to be carried to other departments of the business should be typewritten. “Mr. Smith has instructed me to say,” etc. These should be dispatched immediately. If instructions cover deferred matters, notation of them should be made for the desk tickler file.

The three fundamental principles are:

  1. A clear understanding of the instructions.

  2. Write them in shorthand if possible.

  3. Speed in getting them under way.

From what has been said about receiving instructions, it will be seen that giving instructions to others embodies many of the same principles.

  1. A clear understanding of what you want to say - visualizing the processes.

  2. The employment of the clearest possible language.

  3. Seeing that those to whom you give instructions understand what you mean.

The simplest way to avoid misunderstandings is to think the problem out carefully beforehand so that all the steps are understood. The secretary cannot very well tell others what to do unless he himself understands what he wants done.

The student of this course will have ample opportunity to put into operation the principles of carrying out given instructions. The teacher makes assignments daily. Pay careful attention to these. Visualize him as an employer whom you are ambitious to serve to the best of your ability.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What is the best method of handling verbal instructions?

  2. What are the advantages of written instructions? How may the secretary transfer verbal instructions into written?

  3. What are the three fundamental principles to be learned about receiving instructions? How does this affect giving instructions?

  4. What are the steps to be followed after instructions have been received?

  5. What are the three, most important features to be considered in connection with giving instructions?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager wishes the following instructions embodied in a memorandum for the sales manager: He expects to leave on the twentieth for a week's trip. He will visit Philadelphia on the twenty-first and twenty-second; Baltimore, twenty-third; Washington, twenty-fourth; Richmond, twenty-fifth; returning to Philadelphia on the twenty-sixth. He wishes to meet our salesmen in these cities for the purpose of a conference. Direct the memorandum to the sales manager and ask him to arrange for a meeting of the salesmen at ten o'clock in our offices in each of the cities. He also desires sales reports showing the conditions in each city. Prepare the necessary memorandum.

  2. The manager requests the advertising department to furnish him with proofs of current advertising with a report on the magazines that are carrying it. Prepare the necessary memorandum.

  3. The manager desires the following data: The time of departure of the fastest train between New York and Chicago, the railroad fare and sleeping car fare. What steps will you take to get this information? Write the data in the form of a memorandum for the manager.

  4. Dictation.

  5. Transcription.

The Secretary's Follow-up File

The secretary should be provided with a convenient desk card file, with month and day tabs corresponding to the months of the year and the days of the month. Back of these he should file cards containing matters which are to be brought to the employer's attention at stated times, matters which he himself must take care of, engagements, and all deferred matters that are to come up and be disposed of at a future time.

The memoranda on these cards should be written with great care. Nothing should be left to guesswork or memory. A written record is always to be preferred to the most marvelous memory. Each card should deal with a definite problem. As soon as the matters referred to on the cards have been disposed of, the cards should be removed and destroyed, or transferred to another file, if it is likely that the record will be of service later on.

These are duties that the secretary should take care of with great care, for his own protection. If the cards, containing instructions on deferred matters disposed of, are to be transferred to another file, whatever action was taken in each case should be noted on the card. In other words, the record of the transaction should be complete. Incomplete records are almost as bad as no records at all. Nothing should be left to doubt.

In addition to a card file, it is also essential that the secretary be provided with a letter or document follow-up file in which to place instruments that are to come up for attention at stated times. This file should be equipped with numbered and month guides. Attached to each paper or instrument should be a slip containing information concerning its disposal. If the letters or instruments have been taken from other files, a record of them, with the necessary information for finding them, should be made for those files, to guard against delay in locating them should they be sought in the regular files. This follow-up-file should also be used for original data of an extended nature. All such matters should be noted on cards for the regular card file, which is to be treated as the master file, so far as deferred matters are concerned.

The matter of accurate and timely follow-up is of the utmost importance, and it should be the duty of the secretary on arriving at his desk each morning to look up deferred matters requiring attention. As an example of such matters, the following should be noted.

  1. Clipping of interest coupons, if this is a matter for your attention or a duty to be brought to your employer's notice.

  2. Payment of bills.

  3. Payment of notes, or interest on notes.

  4. Payment of insurance premiums.

  5. Appointments. (Appointments are usually recorded on a desk calendar.)

  6. Meetings.

  7. Journeys.

  8. Attention to contracts.

  9. Writing of important letters.

  10. Conferences.

  11. Salesmen's routings.

  12. Payment of taxes on real estate.

  13. Payment of income tax.

  14. Income tax reports.

  15. Collections.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What is a card follow-up file and what equipment should it contain?

  2. What equipment should the document follow-up file contain?

  3. State briefly the important points to be observed in connection with the secretary's follow-up files of both types.

  4. If some records are on the follow-up cards and others in the document file, what means is employed to make both available for quick reference?

  5. How may documents or letters, taken from the regular file and transferred to the follow-up files, be kept alive in the regular files?

  6. Explain the use of the follow-up files.

  7. Name some of the purposes of a follow-up file.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager has given instructions for the following deferred matters to be brought to his attention on the dates given:

    1. Payment of insurance premium of $571.28 to the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, on the twenty-fifth of next month. He will send a personal check for the amount

    2. The convention of the Association of National Advertisers meets at Cleveland, Ohio, on the fifteenth of next month. His attention is to be brought to the date of this meeting at least five days before that date. He wishes a folder prepared containing correspondence relating to the meeting; reports on advertising contracts; he has arranged for a conference of our salesmen during this meeting to be held at the Statler Hotel Wednesday morning at ten o'clock. Write a memorandum for the various officers and department heads embodying this information.

    3. Payment of taxes on real estate amounting to $1,362 to be made on the ninth of next month.

    4. Make out the proper cards. Submit them to the manager for his approval; file.

  1. Dictation.

  2. Transcription.

Directing the Work of Stenographers

If the secretary must direct the work of other stenographers and typists he should first organize the job. Usually this kind of supervision is not delegated to a secretary until he has shown that he has some managerial ability and, furthermore, is fully acquainted with the business, its personnel, purpose, and its activities. In other words, he must have a background for assuming a directing position. In the larger offices, of course, the direction of the stenographic work either falls upon the head stenographer or the office manager.

In some businesses a centralized stenographic system is in operation. The stenographers are given a room in which their desks and all the materials with which they work are arranged systematically in a way to make it possible to accomplish the most in a day. The organization of the department has been worked out by experts. The stenographers work on assignments and are sent from one dictator to another by the head of the department on call. It is the duty of the head to see that no one stenographer is overloaded with work and that all carry out their part of the production program. He keeps record sheets before him showing the status of each stenographer's work, the approximate time it will take to transcribe the work he has in his book, and the like. These data are necessary to keep the organization functioning properly.

The centralized stenographic department has some distinctive advantages. It spreads the work of the day over the entire stenographic force; it insures a reasonable degree of promptness; it enables the management to see that there is not an excess of stenographic help; it tends to give each stenographer an opportunity to show his worth, and makes for promotion to more responsible positions of those who are capable of assuming added responsibilities; it reduces generally the expense of handling the stenographic work; it serves to “speed up” those who do the dictating.

On the other hand, many dictators object to the centralized plan. They prefer to have a stenographer at their beck and call every minute of the day; they do not seem to be able to organize their own work so that it fits the centralized stenographic scheme. Consequently, it may be said that in a majority of offices the individual system is more generally used. In such offices the secretary naturally will not be concerned with the stenographic department but will be assigned to the individual work of one executive or department head. It is obvious that under this plan there must be a great variation in the amount of work done by the individual stenographer. On busy days he may not be able to accomplish all that is required; on other days he may not be busy at all. These general statements are made in order to show some of the problems the director of stenographic work will encounter.

Directing the work of stenographers is largely a matter of organization, and of selecting the right personnel. Consequently the first requirement is to find what is expected to be accomplished and then to organize it so that the objective may be reached effectively. A careful study should be made of these factors, and a plan outlined. Concrete illustration of this point is impossible because of varying conditions. The assignment of stenographers to different phases of the work must be based on individual capabilities. Stenographers who are capable of taking dictation rapidly should be sent to the most rapid dictators. The work must be divided up so that both overloading and underloading will be prevented. The morale of a stenographic force may be easily demoralized by a lack of attention to this detail. Any collateral work should be spread over the entire force, each being given a definite phase of it so far as possible. Records should be kept of the day's accomplishments. Copying work or typing should also be distributed among the various workers, so that an excessive amount of one kind of work will not fall upon one stenographer. There is a general tendency to place the most exacting work upon the most expert stenographers, and in fact, to “favor” them in making assignments so that they are in reality doing more than their share. If this practice is compensated by higher wages or other advantages it is not objectionable. An adequate system of checking the work should be installed.

The personal element also enters into the problem. The secretary must secure the confidence of those with whom he is working, or whom he is directing. He must be fair and impartial. He must pick no favorites. This is one of the most difficult problems to solve, for we are all influenced more or less by personal preference.

Stenographers who are weak in any particular phase of their work should be encouraged to increase their skill. The process of training must go on continuously, but it must be placed on a basis that will appeal to the stenographers.

One of the first steps is to standardize the practice of writing letters and other papers with which the stenographer is concerned. This may be based on what has already been done in the office, or it may be the result of a systematic study of the problem. If it happens that little consideration has been given to this factor the secretary should make a study of the forms of correspondence and decide upon standard practices. These should be embodied in a memorandum and a copy supplied to each stenographer. Read the recommendations of Mr. Walter Clarke in the section on Stenographic Standards, for suggestions on this point. If the stenographers understand what is expected of them and have definite instructions as to forms and procedure, the results will be found to be far more satisfactory. All mechanical operations should be reduced to the minimum. A study should be made of the physical equipment of the office. Changes in the arrangement of desks to provide good lighting and of the other appliances with which stenographers work, will often yield splendid results.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. To become an efficient director of the work of stenographers, what background must the secretary or head stenographer possess?

  2. What is meant by a “centralized stenographic department”?

  3. What are its advantages and disadvantages?

  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of an executive having the exclusive services of one secretary?

  5. If you were the secretary of an executive and found that your work occupied only a part of the day, what action would you take?

  6. What factors would you take into consideration in organizing a stenographic department for the most effective work?

  7. What means would you employ to carry on the training of stenographers under your direction?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager has asked you to work out a plan of organization in our office where ten stenographers serve twenty dictators. It is estimated that ten is the least number of stenographers that can do the work effectively, but all must be kept at their tasks throughout the day. The following elements must be considered: A large amount of copying of contracts and various business papers is a part of the daily work; some of the dictators are very dilatory and have been in the habit of calling for stenographers at various times throughout the day; they are in sympathy with the reorganization plan, however; some of the dictators have had the exclusive services of one stenographer. No decision has been reached on the type of organization; that is a matter for you to pass judgment upon and to suggest a plan of operation that will obtain the best results.

  2. The manager wishes you to prepare an instruction sheet for the guidance of the stenographic force looking toward the standardization of practices. Prepare the instruction sheet embodying all details you think necessary. Make an outline of your general plan, and elaborate it.

  3. The manager will assign a group of stenographers which you are to organize into a working force for a definite amount of work. He will leave all details of work and the carrying out of the work entirely in your hands.

  4. Dictation.

  5. Transcription.

Section XXVII: Editing Dictated Matter

There are few business men who can dictate a letter of any length that does not need some editing, largely because the attention of the dictator is focused upon the messages it is to contain rather than upon the form. He may dictate a long and involved sentence; his verbs may not agree with the subjects; the plurals may be wrong; a host of other little inaccuracies may creep in that the secretary must correct in transcribing. If a sentence can be strengthened by splitting it up into two sentences, do not hesitate to do it. The language must be grammatical no matter whether it is the work of the secretary or the dictator. The little connective “and” is very often overworked. Separating the two parts of a sentence connected by “and” will often produce a much more effective expression of the idea. Many business men have a habit of repeating a certain word in the same sentence. “Pet” words, trite expressions, inane and mechanical formulas are the bane of good letter writing. In such cases substitute a synonym that expresses the idea. Keep the eyes and ears open for such repetitions and at the first pause write in the correct word above the other.

The sense of the matter being dictated should be kept in mind. The secretary must be on the lookout constantly for expressions that can be improved in transcribing. Even if he does not always think it advisable to make such changes, the training he will get in studying the best ways of expressing a thought will add greatly to his power.

The amount of editing necessary, naturally will be governed largely by the skill of the dictator. Some business men insist emphatically upon having their letters returned to them without any change in language - exactly as dictated. These instructions must be followed to the letter. The secretary should not, however, hand in letters that contain obvious inaccuracies. If he is uncertain about a point, he should tactfully draw the attention of his dictator to it. Most business men will appreciate the interest the secretary shows in perfecting the correspondence.

If the secretary diplomatically makes known his knowledge of correct diction and grammatical construction, and an insight into the principles of correspondence, the actual composition of many letters will soon be entrusted to him. He will thus not only increase his efficiency in the office by assuming added responsibilities, but will be working directly for his own interests, and a larger salary.

If the secretary's knowledge of grammar and composition is deficient, a systematic study of these subjects and an effort to improve his use of the English language should be made.

It should be one of the aims of the secretary at the beginning of his secretarial work to learn all he possibly can about the business in which he is engaged. He should learn the prices, the discounts, the names, and the nature of all the articles the firm deals in or manufactures. He should study the methods followed by his employer, and analyze his “selling talk.” The names of the regular correspondents, or customers, what they buy, their peculiarities, the discounts given, their credit ratings, in fact, all the information available in connection with their relations to the business should be acquired by the secretary so that he will be able to supply immediately from his own knowledge any needed facts, or secure the documents that give them. A large amount of this information may be secured from the files of correspondence, or from catalogues and booklets. The knowledge gained of a business from such a study will enable the secretary to edit intelligently any letter and transcribe it in a way to convey clearly the information it is intended to give even if imperfectly dictated. The secretary who works intelligently places himself in direct line for promotion. If he thinks about his work, and takes the same interest in it that he would if he were the proprietor himself, he is bound to go ahead.

He must, however, keep this in mind: That any suggestions he makes for the improvement of his work must be made tactfully. Some business men are very “touchy” on the subject of their letters. Some of the worst dictators labor under the delusion that, as correspondents, they are in a class by themselves, and that no one can “tell them” anything. This is a form of egotism frequently encountered. The only thing to do with an employer of this kind is to follow his wishes - humor him. He is paying for the work; it is his privilege to have it done in the way he wants it done, whether right or wrong.

Correcting Tentative “Drafts” of Letters - It often becomes necessary to revise letters or other written matter after dictation. Usually these are important documents requiring the careful weighing of every word and phrase. A rough outline will often be dictated and this will be gone over several times, perhaps, and interlineations inserted, and words struck out, until it bears little resemblance to the original dictation. Matter revised in this way is called “rough draft,” and some of it is very “rough,” indeed!

When called upon to copy matter of this kind, in shorthand notes or typing, the secretary should first read it over carefully to see that he understands it. If in reading, places are found that do not seem to make sense, it is always best to ask about them, if the difficulties cannot conveniently be solved otherwise.

Inserting interlineations in the wrong place is a common mistake against which the secretary should be on guard. Necessary corrections should be made in every case, whether they are incorporated by the writer or not. And, by way of comment, it is not necessary to call attention to these merely for the purpose of getting the credit!

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What attitude must the secretary take toward his employer's English?

  2. Name the important points the secretary must keep in mind with regard to dictation.

  3. What action would you take if your employer made no plans for his dictation, but simply dictated answers to letters as the thoughts occurred to him without any attempt at organizing the matter logically?

  4. What is the best basis on which to establish a plan of editing letters?

  5. How may the secretary prepare himself to edit dictated letters the most effectively?

  6. What points are to be observed in correcting tentative drafts of letters?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The laboratory assignment will consist of a number of letters dictated by the manager, but which require careful editing. You will take these from dictation, make whatever revision is necessary, and return them to the manager.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Briefing Reports and Correspondence

The business or professional man who needs the services of a secretary necessarily will leave the details of that office to him so that he will conserve his time and energy for important matters. Digests of reports and correspondence are often necessary in order to conserve his time. These are usually made by the secretary, unless they are matters that go to other departments for the attention of specialists. In making a brief of a report or a series of letters, it is necessary, first, to read through the entire report or all the letters, in order to get a comprehensive view of the situation. In doing this the secretary must use judgment in selecting the facts which he thinks should be given in the brief. These may be indicated by underlining or noting in some other way on the original report the parts that he wishes to incorporate into his brief. Upon a second reading these may be stated in his own language briefly, but clearly.

A brief should be concise. The employer will desire only the essential factors - details and matters of minor importance should be omitted altogether. These can be furnished later if required. The object of a brief of a report or of correspondence is to save the executive's time in going through a mass of matter. This fact should be kept in mind by the secretary. At the same time all the essentials should be included.

The secretary should analyze, if possible, every business document he handles with the idea of ascertaining whether it is arranged in logical order. He should also consider it from the point of view of its content. This constant study will soon develop ideas of arrangement and precision that will be of inestimable value to him. It will also have an important bearing upon the future usefulness of his work. He may be called upon at some time to make just such reports and he will thus have the background for his own presentation.

Many employers will require only the barest facts, stated almost in the form of headlines. A brief should give an accurate digest of the important features of the report. In making briefs, much may be gained by a proper organization of the material. As an example, a report may deal with such features as finance, physical property and plants, transportation, foreign trade. Usually these already will have been classified in the report itself, although many reports are of necessity prepared hurriedly and, while giving all the important details, are not arranged in logical order.

If the secretary has had no experience in making such briefs, he should if possible, find copies of similar briefs and from them get an idea of what is required.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What is meant by briefing?

  2. What are the necessary steps in the operation?

  3. What would you include in briefing a series of letters concerning one transaction?

  4. If you were a beginner in an office and were asked to make a brief of a certain report, what steps would you first take?

  5. In what way can you obtain a knowledge of the business so that your work in editing, briefing, and other activities may be carried on more effectively?

  6. What will you look for in letters and reports when making briefs?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager will give you definite instructions about briefing certain correspondence and reports that will be either dictated to you or obtained from the files.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Digest of Correspondence

It occasionally falls to the lot of the secretary to make a digest of correspondence, either from the files or from an accumulation of matters concerning a definite problem or subject. Usually such correspondence will be filed in one folder, and all that will be necessary is to arrange it in chronological order, with the answers attached to the original letters, if it is not already so arranged, and make a digest of each letter or document as it is encountered.

Begin with a statement of the subject. If the matter to be summarized is a series of letters on a certain subject, it will be necessary only to give the date of the first letter, unless the date has an important bearing on some question to be discussed. The secretary will then read through each letter to get a perspective of its contents. This reading may be done quite rapidly. The reading will naturally give him a background upon which to build his digest. It might be well in going through the first reading to underscore any sentence or sentences that give a keynote. A second reading will enable the secretary to extract the relative values. Statements of the contents should be briefed to the fewest possible words. It is made to save the time which would be otherwise consumed in reading through a mass of details bearing on the subject but which are not absolutely essential to an understanding of the facts. Details may be omitted entirely.

If the secretary is unaccustomed to extracting the essential features of a document or book or series of letters, he should secure some practice in doing this.

The digest is used in several ways. First, the employer may be going away on an extended trip. He will need a digest of correspondence that comes to his office during his absence, forwarded from day to day. The secretary will answer such letters as he can, or at least will acknowledge them, and then forward to his employer a summary of the points brought out in the correspondence.

A second use is that in which the subject of a series of letters is connected with some remote transaction and a digest will be needed to refresh the employer's mind of all the circumstances attending it. A third use is the case of an employer who may need a digest of a certain magazine article, a booklet, or a book. In the case of books, the secretary will be greatly assisted by referring to the table of contents, which gives the subjects treated in their chronological order. Frequently the contents of a book generally states the subjects discussed and then goes on to elaborate them by a series of sub-titles. The employer may express a desire for specific information only and care nothing for the rest of the book or paper.

How the secretary will handle these matters will depend largely upon his instructions. But he should see to it that he understands the instructions thoroughly. His employer will frequently state the purpose of the digest and leave the matter to his secretary if he has learned to rely on his judgment. With the employer's viewpoint in mind a digest will be greatly simplified. In making a digest it is better to err in making it exhaustive rather than too condensed.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. How does a digest differ from a brief?

  2. State the steps you will take in making a digest of correspondence which is contained in one folder.

  3. If the matter to be digested is scattered in various files what action will you take first?

  4. What is the purpose of a digest?

  5. If you were asked to make a digest of a book how would you go about it? Give complete details.

  6. In making a digest of a article or book from which you took direct notations how would you indicate this fact?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager will assign certain correspondence as the basis of digests.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Section XXVIII: Interviewing Business Callers

In many offices where an information department is not part of the organization - and this naturally applies to a majority of offices - the secretary is usually the buffer between the public and his employer. Even in large organizations, where an information department is supposed to dispose of callers scientifically, many employers insist upon their secretaries “interviewing” all callers, except personal acquaintances that have got by the intelligence department centered in the information bureau.

General Principles - Thus there are two phases to the problem of meeting callers. If your position is one in which you are expected to “see” everybody that comes into the office, you should develop the qualities that are generally to be found in the information bureau, fortressed with the additional viewpoint that your office as secretary provides. You will need a sort of detective skill in knowing the worth-while people you will admit to the presence of your employer. You will need to use good judgment in this for two reasons. First, you must not get the reputation with him of being “easy,” or tender hearted, with a predilection toward being influenced more by the aims and ambitions of the plausible caller than you are conscious of his own convenience and wishes. You must be reasonably sure that any person you admit to your employer's office is entitled to see him and is well worth his time. In order to do this you must judge of the importance of the caller. Ability to judge human nature, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of the business and the matters that your employer will discuss with callers, are essential.

You cannot acquire this skill in a day. It will necessitate much earnest study, tact, diplomacy, resourcefulness, and many other qualifications. Often it is very difficult to judge the importance of a visitor by first impressions. Usually the bigger, the more broad-minded the caller is, the easier it will be to deal with him. But not all important persons are big and broad-minded. Many resent being questioned about the purpose of their visit. You must overcome these resentments by the force of your own personality (personality, not egotism), your unfailing courtesy, your courage, common sense, tact, and the brilliancy of your resourcefulness. Usually the man on a legitimate errand has nothing to conceal. Many callers, on impossible errands, are obsessed with the idea that if they can only see the “boss,” all will be well. It is your duty to find out the nature of the errand of the caller, and render your own judgment on it. If it is a question about which you are doubtful and it is impossible for your employer to see the caller at the time, you must make some adequate arrangement for bringing the two together.

You might ask the caller to make an appointment at another time when your employer is not so busy; or, if it is a matter which he does not wish to attend to personally, ask if there is not someone else who can take care of it. Situations of this kind can be handled tactfully without resorting to any sort of deception, if the secretary is resourceful.

If it is a matter which the secretary thinks should be brought to the attention of the employer, he may suggest taking a memorandum of the matters which the caller wishes to discuss and present them to the employer at a time when he can give them consideration. The secretary may say: “I am sorry, but Mr. Harriman is engaged at the moment with a matter that requires his undivided attention, and is not able to see callers. If you will tell me what it is you wish to see him about, I shall make a memorandum of it and ask him to telephone or write you.”

In all your dealings with callers at the office you must remember that the first impressions of the company which employs you will be made by the manner in which you receive them. All sorts of devices are used by canvassers, salesmen, dreamers, charity workers, and others to get access to the private office of your employer. Some come without cards announcing their business; some are merely “personal friends,” or relatives. Others are so affable that you may be led to believe from what they say that your employer would simply rush into their arms if he only knew they were there. The secretary must not be carried away by these plausible individuals. The world is full of them. That is why the high-salaried executive is so carefully guarded from intrusion.

The secretary must decide cases on their merits. His first duty is to learn tactfully the business of the caller, and whether he has an appointment. He must not be abrupt or create the impression that his employer is so important that none but the elect may have access to him. Many times perfectly legitimate callers can be directed to other departments, where they will be sent, anyway, even should they gain access to your employer's office. The really tactful secretary will be able to elicit all this information and skillfully handle every situation so that the caller will not only be impressed by his courtesy and attention, but by his business-like disposition of the matter.

If the secretary possesses good judgment, he can very easily weed out the callers that are unimportant; either make appointments for the rest, or ascertain what they have to offer and present their statements to the employer in the form of a memorandum. These matters should be taken up with the employer at the first opportunity, his decision learned, and an appointment made for an interview at a convenient time.

Many business men insist upon seeing every caller who comes to the office. Such men usually have developed a positive genius for getting at the essentials of any subject and can dispose of callers very rapidly. The secretary in such a situation should study the employer's methods and by degrees he will be able to dispose of many of these matters himself, much to the relief of the employer when he learns that he has an associate who can assist him in this respect.

It is not the business of the secretary to turn people away. It is his business to separate the wheat from the chaff. His employer may be just as anxious to see callers as they are to see him. Upon entering your first position you should have a clear understanding with your employer about his ideas of handling callers. This will save you many embarrassments. Usually employers are willing to be specific in their instructions on this subject. By ascertaining the names of important callers or clients whom your employer will see under any circumstances, and cataloguing these in your card file, you can save yourself much time. By having this card index in a convenient place, it may be consulted without the caller's seeing that you are looking up his record, which in some cases might prove a serious embarrassment.

In some offices the secretary will be furnished with blank forms (see illustration), which a caller is required to fill out. These slips are then transmitted to the executive and he himself decides the question of whether the caller is to be admitted.

Figure LXIX: Blank Form for Caller

It may be stated that this method of handling a caller is not considered the best. It is too mechanical.

Call by Telephone - Telephone callers present still another problem. It is far more difficult to determine the importance of a caller from his voice over the telephone than it is if he is seen, when many factors are present from which to judge him. Many aggressive salesmen have a notion that if they cannot reach the employer personally, they can do so by telephone, taking advantage of the fact that a business man will oftentimes answer a telephone call when he would refuse to see the person at his office. This stratagem is not as successful as formerly, when the technique of the problem had not been worked out.

These are facts that should be considered by the secretary. Otherwise his handling of telephone calls will follow the lines laid down for personal callers.

Decision - One final instruction - do not argue with a caller. After you have rendered a decision, stick to it.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Give a brief statement of the qualities the secretary must possess to be able to handle interviews with callers.

  2. Give two important fundamental steps that must be observed in interviewing callers.

  3. If your employer is one who insists on seeing everybody that comes into the office, but who still complains of the time he wastes in doing it, what will you do to eliminate this waste?

  4. What is the purpose of having the secretary see callers before they are admitted to the executive's office?

  5. What attitude should the secretary take toward business callers? Callers who cannot be thus classified?

  6. How should telephone calls be handled?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. Each head of a department of our business, with his personal secretary, has a private office. You interview all callers first, except those having appointments. How will you deal with the following:

    1. A personal friend, living in the same town, just “drops in” because he is passing. Your employer is too busy to see any social callers.

    2. A personal friend from out of town, who is only in town for the day, calls.

    3. A personal friend in town for a day calls.

    4. Your employer's wife calls while he is busy with some important papers and must not have his mind distracted. Later he has a business luncheon engagement.

    5. A man having an appointment calls nearly a half hour ahead of time.

    6. A man having an appointment calls half an hour late.

    7. An impatient man, whose good will is most important, calls; your employer can either see him in an hour or can make an appointment for any other day.

    8. The manager's fussy, self-important wealthy aunt comes panting into the office on a hot summer day, insistent on seeing him. He is in a conference and will not be free for nearly an hour.

  1. Our organization is planned on the “open office” style; each executive has his desk, his secretary's desk, his files, etc., as an office unit, but all in sight of the entering visitors. Your employer is an advocate of the “clean desk”; he is considering a matter; has before him one folder, the contents of which he is examining - not especially busy. The eight problems presented in Assignment One confront you. What would you do in each case?

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.

Employer's Activities

The secretary should be familiar with all the employer's activities, particularly in connection with his main business. He may also be called upon to perform certain work in connection with the employer's social activities. The following data should be kept available:

Business Activities - If your employer is an officer of the company, you should familiarize yourself with his duties. If he is the head of a department, it is essential to know the range of his duties and just how far his authority extends, what matters come to his attention, the names of his associates, and “the lines of communication” with other departments of the organization. In other words, it is necessary to make a job analysis of all his activities. A study of the organization chart of the business will be of assistance in learning how authority flows. The names of all officers of the organization, the names of the managers of various branches or offices maintained by the business, information about the personnel, about the special activities of each department, is information that the secretary should have at his command.

Social Activities - The names and addresses of various clubs and social organizations with which the employer is connected and any information in connection with these that is necessary for the proper conduct of the secretary's work should be available. The year book of each of these will give full information about the club or organization, together with a list of officers and committees. These books or booklets may be kept on file and thus save transferring data to other files, unless his activities are so extensive that a brief of those data is necessary for convenience. These yearbooks should be replaced with new ones as they are issued. If the employer is a member of any committees, this fact should be noted, together with the stated times and the place of meeting. The secretary must keep his employer informed of such meetings. All papers connected with committee meetings should be placed in folders so that they will be available if needed for a meeting.

Commercial, Charitable, Church, or Professional Organizations, Lodges - The rule applying to business activities should apply also to these. The names of all organizations with which your employer is connected should be kept on file. If your employer is connected with any charitable organizations, this may require some bookkeeping by the secretary, as well as records of data relating to them.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. If you were employed in a new secretarial position and your employer were general manager, what procedure would you follow to get data concerning his activities?

  2. How are these activities classified?

  3. How would you secure information about the business organization of which your employer is a member?

  4. What records would you keep of your employer's activities, and how would you file deferred matters to be brought up at the proper time?

  5. Write a brief memorandum to be given to your employer embracing the points you wish to know about his activities.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager is a member of the following clubs and organizations. Make out cards for the card file giving the necessary data as outlined below.

    1. The Metropolitan Club - Club dues, amounting to a total of $150.00 are to be paid the first of June. The annual meeting occurs the first Tuesday in March. The club is located at 726 Fifth Avenue. The manager is a member of the Board of Governors, whose meetings occur monthly on the last Wednesday at five o'clock.

    2. The Chamber of Commerce - The manager attends the luncheons of this organization almost invariably, when he is in town. These occur at different times. Annual dues, $75.00, payable the first of January each year. Address, 14 Broadway.

    3. The Rotary Club - The annual dues in the Rotary Club are $100. Regular meetings at the Hotel McAlpin on dates announced by circular card. Address, Hotel McAlpin.

    4. The St. Andrews Golf Club - The dues in the St. Andrews Golf Club are $200 a year. The manager is a member of the Board of Governors. Address, Fairview.

  1. Dictation.

  2. Transcription.

Reporting Matters that Should Come to the Employer's Attention

Such matters may be put conveniently into two classifications:

  1. What may be considered as promotionally constructive, as, for example, items of interest, news value, or of practical business value, which the secretary may learn here and there by keeping in touch with the stream of business, by reading, and through his business acquaintances.

  2. Constructive suggestions about the internal organization.

In the first classification the value of the secretary's suggestions will depend largely upon his accuracy of judgment as to the worth-whileness of any information he may secure. He cannot always judge this. His detachment from the larger phases of business may prevent an accurate judgment of the value of such information. Consequently, if his employer is a man who appreciates the interest of his employees - as most progressive business men do - he will be glad to receive any information bearing even remotely on the business. The secretary can be quite free in passing on to him any bits of business information he receives. These may be made frequently in the form of a memorandum; as, for example: “Mr. Van Buskirk: I have learned through Mr. Harold Abernathy, of Williams and Seabury, that the Vulcan Steel Stamping Company is endeavoring to effect a consolidation with Whitmore and Canley. - M. B. W.”

Whenever possible give the source of information, and state all the facts exactly as you have received them. These matters should not be discussed with others in the office. By being constantly on the alert to learn all you can about the enterprise you are engaged in, and studying your employer's methods in handling business situations as they occur, you will develop an accuracy of judgment and a knowledge and power that will be of value in making your services more effective.

The second classification - constructive suggestions about the internal organization - will depend largely upon your power of observation. Generally, it will be confined to your own particular field, but it may be extended beyond this. The first of these will deal perhaps with your own work. How can you improve it? Is there needless duplication in any of the work with which you are connected? May many of your activities be simplified and strengthened by the use of blank forms? Could your work be carried on more effectively if you had the assistance of a stenographer? Could certain work that you are doing be more profitably done in another department? These are some of the questions that will suggest themselves.

Then there will be matters concerning other employees whom you may be directing, or who come in contact with your work. The correct functioning of any business machine depends to a large extent upon the efficiency of the individuals engaged in the enterprise, how they “team up” in performing their own work, and in their relations with others. It is perfectly proper and a duty to report to your employer the lack of efficiency on the part of those connected with his work, when the problem cannot be solved in some other way, diplomatically or otherwise. This does not mean that the secretary should constantly be running to his employer with every trivial slip on the part of an employee; it does not mean that he is to act as a “spy.” His interest must be solely the interest of the business. Many mistakes are made by employees through lack of knowledge and lack of business training. It should be the first duty of the secretary who has others in his charge to see that they are properly instructed and trained. Oftentimes employees do not fit into their jobs. By temperament, lack of training, adaptability, or mental equipment they are attempting to perform work for which they are not fitted. They must either be shifted into other positions, for which they have talent, or dropped.

Any suggestions for the betterment of the personnel or the organization of the work should be made without hesitation. But new recommendations should be accompanied by facts and data supporting the recommendation.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. Into what classes may these matters be divided?

  2. What matters come under each classification?

  3. What is meant by “promotionally constructive” work?

  4. What is the object of reporting to your employer items of interest relating to his business and to general business conditions?

  5. Should you be willing to report the lack of attention to business of business associates?

  6. If one of your associates is obviously neglecting the work with which you are concerned, what steps will you take to correct the situation?

  7. If you found it necessary to report the inattention of a fellow-worker, how would you go about it so that it would not have the appearance of spying?

  8. If your employer asked you specifically to watch the activities of any employee what would you do?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager has instructed you to make a report on the work of three of our stenographers (students in this course) whom he will designate. You will make a thorough observation of their work and report your findings in full.

  2. One of your associates makes a practice of arriving late at the office. When he is not under observation, he wastes time. Instructions have been given to make suggestions for the improvement of the work in the office. What action will you take?

  3. Make a report on the general work of our office with the following points in view:

    1. Organization.

    2. Effectiveness of the individual work of the members of the force.

    3. Improvement in working conditions.

  1. Dictation.

  2. Transcription.

Section XXIX: Organizing Memoranda

In every business there accumulates a mass of data which is more or less disconnected. Much of this is invaluable, but it is utterly worthless unless one can place his hands on it when it is wanted. Some is related to time and may be handled in the ordinary tickler file; other requires a careful classification by topics, and some of it may appear to be absolutely unclassifiable. In the latter situation a miscellaneous file may be provided and the matter classified as well as it can be. Just how far it is necessary to go in this direction will depend entirely upon the nature of the data.

Data that have no connection with time may be conveniently assembled in folders or envelopes, plainly marked as to contents. Each folder or envelope should contain only material relating to a given subject. This may be subdivided when it seems necessary. Finally, an adequate index must be worked out. Many secretaries, as well as executives, have an index of these matters prepared, and keep it under the glass on their desks where it may be consulted readily. In order to organize memoranda efficiently, the secretary necessarily must have not only a broad general knowledge of the business, but a specific knowledge of each department or phase of it.

Much effort later can be saved, if the secretary has anything to do with the collection of data, by arranging or writing them in logical form with numerous paragraph headings to make the subjects stand out boldly. Memoranda that relate to time should be destroyed as soon as their usefulness has been served, and this applies also to other data which may be filed topically. Otherwise the files will soon become clogged with a mass of material which is of no value. In the process of elimination, however, good judgment must be exercised. If the secretary is doubtful, the employer should be consulted before papers are destroyed.

A memorandum file may be provided, if the matter is extensive. This can be fortified by a card-index system on which is noted a number or classification and a brief statement of the information in each piece of memoranda. Only the general principles of handling such material can be stated as above. Much will depend upon the ingenuity and knowledge of the secretary. If the secretary enters a position where a system has already been installed, it will be necessary for him to familiarize himself with it. If he studies thoroughly the principles of filing, his task will be greatly lessened in originating a system himself.

Write It Down - The secretary who tries to make a notebook of his memory is sailing straight into disaster. Write down instructions, ideas, matters to be taken up later, whatever the subject of instructions may be, and do not depend wholly upon memory. Matters that are to be taken up at a stated time should go in the desk tickler, written fully, if necessary, in order to make sure that nothing may be neglected. Whenever you are called to your employer's office, take a notebook for memoranda with you, even if you know the summons is not for the purpose of dictation. If matters are to be brought from the files, certain documents secured, errands to be performed, instructions to be given to others, make a full note of them. It is much easier to get these matters straight at the time than it is to depend on memory to supply all the details or even the motive for the main action.

Address Book - The secretary should be provided with an address book or a file for the names and addresses of all persons with whom his employer does business; or, in some cases, his social friends and acquaintances. This preferably may be in the form of a loose-leaf book so that addresses that have become “dead” may be eliminated when they are of no further use. Naturally such a book will be provided with an alphabetical marginal guide, or finders on the order of the tabs of a filing system. It should be kept in a convenient place, so that it may be referred to when necessary without undue loss of time.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. How would you classify the two ordinary types of memoranda?

  2. How are such memoranda disposed of so far as placing them where they will be available when wanted?

  3. What is done with memoranda that have served their purpose when the time element enters into the equation?

  4. Describe a suitable filing equipment for memoranda.

  5. Make a digest of the points covered in “Organizing Memoranda,” “Write it Down,” and “Address Book.”

  6. What is the purpose of an address book and how organized?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager desires a digest of the entire political news appearing in one of our daily papers which he will designate. Go through the paper, clip all articles relating to this subject, and classify them according to subject. Make up a list of these articles on cards, with a digest of each.

  2. Outline the plan of an address book. Include in it all the names of your business acquaintances.

  3. Dictation.

  4. Transcription.

Reporting Meetings and Conferences

The secretary will occasionally be requested to report, or at least take note of, a conference of the executives, managers, salesmen, or a directors' meeting. Where such conferences are regarded of sufficient importance to have a full report of all that was discussed, a professional reporter is usually called in. But the secretary who has the shorthand skill and the ability to report such conferences has a distinct advantage over one who does not, for the reason that his services will be used much more frequently than would be the case if a professional reporter were called in. The work can also be performed with greater accuracy by the secretary who possesses shorthand skill, because of his familiarity with the business, the personnel, and the technical terms of the business.

It is for this reason that the necessity for a high degree of shorthand skill is emphasized throughout the course. The student who does not take advantage of the facilities in school for learning his shorthand superlatively well, and who does not develop high speed and accuracy, will lose a great opportunity when he gets into business.

The reporting of meetings and conferences is only one of the incidental advantages. If called upon to report a conference, the secretary should familiarize himself with the nature of the subjects that are likely to be discussed. Usually the chief executive or the person presiding over the meeting will have made a program of the topics to be taken up and will have seen to it that the necessary data for a complete discussion has been prepared by those taking part. A list of the topics to be discussed will assist materially. If the executive requests that the secretary prepare certain data, this should be arranged in accordance with the program, so that when it is necessary to refer to any of this, it can be done without loss of time. If the matters are placed in folders properly marked, reference to them will be facilitated.

The secretary should make it a point to learn the names of all who will attend the conference if he is not already familiar with them, in order that he may handle the remarks of each accurately. Occasionally outsiders will be invited to sit in at a conference. The names of these and their connections should be ascertained by the secretary and noted.

In reporting a meeting where reference is made to certain documents, the secretary will need to pay close attention to these, and if the documents are actually to be incorporated in the report, they should be marked in some way so that confusion will not arise in preparing the report.

It is rarely necessary to make what is termed a verbatim report, but it will be necessary for the secretary to take full notes, for he will never know, at the start of a discussion, what matters are likely to develop into something of vital importance. He can then brief the remarks according to his judgment in preparing the report, and if a fuller report is required on any particular matter later, he may refer to his notes.

The secretary should see to it that he is placed in the conference where he can hear every word. A table should be provided which will enable him to work to the best advantage.

It will be best not to interrupt any of the discussions if it is possible to avoid it. Take down every word if you can. Should the speed of utterance be too great, try to get the sense of it. By conferring with the speaker after the meeting he will usually be glad to supply any omissions, and what you have in your notes will serve to recall to him what he said. If you have sufficient speed in shorthand, this will rarely be necessary.

Your written report should be made as soon after the conference as possible, because all matters will then be fresh in mind, the picture of just what happened clear, and this will facilitate transcribing. Speakers reading from written memoranda should be requested to hand these to you. This is also true of any special written data that is to be incorporated in the report.

In informal conferences of this kind matters extraneous to the real topics are frequently introduced. It will be necessary to use your best judgment on whether these have any direct or indirect bearing on your report. Usually they do not, and may be omitted altogether.

Discussions do not always follow the program. By being alert you can classify them and indicate the classification in your notes.

In preparing reports be sure that they are organized logically. Minutes of regularly constituted bodies, such as directorates, are usually prepared by the secretary of the body. If the secretary is called upon to do this work, he should be careful to take down the exact wording of any resolutions or motions and make an accurate report of what action was taken. By consulting the minutes of previous meetings of the body you can ascertain the form usually employed in writing them, and follow this. Where the secretary is likely to be called upon to report the meetings of bodies of this kind, he should familiarize himself with parliamentary law. There is a little book called “The Parliamentarian,” by Cora Welles Trow, published by The Gregg Publishing Company, which will give you briefly the best practice in parliamentary procedure.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. If you are to report a meeting or conference, what preliminary steps will you take?

  2. In reporting a conference on specific topics, with what material should the secretary provide himself?

  3. How is this datum handled?

  4. If parts of business papers or articles are to be incorporated in the report, how will the secretary handle the recording of these so that he will be sure to include all that is desired?

  5. If it is impossible for you to make a verbatim report of a meeting, what would you include in your report?

  6. What disposition is made of resolutions so far as your report is concerned?

  7. In a conference composed of members whose names you do not know, how will you handle their contributions to the discussion so as to identify the speakers?

  8. What should the secretary do with matters that are obviously extraneous to the topic under discussion?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager has asked you to make a full report of the first address to be given in the school.

  2. We will regard our work tomorrow morning as a conference. Prepare a report of all that takes place. Wherever possible, give the words of each speaker but edit when necessary. This report is to be prepared at any spare time, and is not to take the place of the regular assignments made by the manager.

  3. Dictation.

  4. Transcription.

Section XXX: Business Literature, Advertising

The efficient secretary will familiarize himself with all the literature of his employer's business with which he is likely to come in contact, such as price lists, advertising matter, financial statements, reports on business conditions, development of business, the correspondence, the printed documents used in the business, annual reports, reports to stockholders, and business literature of whatever nature.

These are matters of frequent discussion in the correspondence, in the conferences in the office, the directors' meetings; and the more familiar the secretary is with the literature of the business, the better able he will be to handle any work he has to do in connection with it. Usually most of these matters are readily accessible. He should always keep one important fact in mind, however, that anything of a confidential nature concerning the business, that comes to his knowledge should be treated in the strictest confidence.

Advertising booklets and literature intended for public distribution, however, are a different matter. Much of the institutional literature is intended only for the eyes of those connected with the business. The secretary should also bear in mind that the value of his services depends largely upon his power to grasp the details of the business, to understand its organization, how the different departments function, the duties of the various officers and executives, the policies governing the business, and the vast mass of details that any large organization develops in the course of its career.

A secretary never knows when a fact gathered here and there will be of value to him. He should regard his first position as merely starting on the road to learning about business practices and policies, and should lose no opportunity to learn as much about these as possible. Any business of any age has usually developed certain traditions. These are not always in printed or typewritten form, but they exist nevertheless. The traditions of a business are important. They are a matter of pride to those directly interested in it. They can be learned by the secretary and made use of in his relations with the executives and those in authority.

Advertising - The secretary should be a student of advertising, and especially of the advertising done by the company with which he is connected. The advertising reflects many of the policies and ideals of a firm or corporation. The secretary can learn about the selling points, the production and manufacturing, the advantages, and other information. Moreover, he should study the art of presenting the descriptions of the products of his company in the most attractive way. The information and knowledge picked up through the study of this advertising will have a most important bearing on his efficiency as a secretary and on his chances for promotion.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. What is meant by business literature?

  2. State what the secretary's attitude should be toward the literature of a business.

  3. What is meant by institutional literature?

  4. What are traditions in business? Business policies?

  5. Have advertisements in general interested you and, if so, why? State the kind of advertisement that most interests you.

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager requests you to make a collection of advertisements of automobiles appearing in the current magazines. Read them carefully. Make a digest of each advertisement as to the points that make an impression upon your mind. Do not state these in the language of the advertisement but in your own language. If the advertisements appeal to you, analyze the reasons. Point out the weak features of each. The success of this assignment does not rest upon expert advertising ability. You are merely to give your own reactions, whether influenced by previous reading and study or not. Include in your brief what suggestions you will make for the improvement of any advertising either in language or in form and presentation.

  2. Make a similar study and report on a group of ten advertisements of food products.

  3. Dictation.

  4. Transcription.

Business Literature, part II

Printing and Proof Reading - All up-to-date businesses make use of a large quantity of printed matter of one kind or another. As it may be necessary for the secretary to assist in the preparation of matter for the printers, an acquaintance with the technical side of printing, so far as it relates to getting manuscript ready, is essential.

In preparing “copy” - the term applied to matter of any kind that goes to a printer - scrupulous care should be used to see that everything is in perfect order and exactly in the form intended. Printers are supposed to follow the copy furnished them. It is not their business to correct errors in spelling, wording, or subject-matter, although good printers usually draw attention to defects of this kind.

When the copy has been put into type, a proof is sent back for correction and comparison with the original copy. The reading of the proof should be done with the utmost care. Letters are apt to be inverted; the spacing may be wrong; words may be left out or misspelled, or transposed; the wrong size or “font” of type may be used - a host of other inaccuracies appear that one would never think possible unless he has had experience with the work of compositors. In making corrections the greatest care must be exercised to make them so clear as to admit of no possible misunderstanding on the part of the printer. When the proof is returned be sure to compare the original copy with it word for word, asking another clerk to “hold copy” for you, that is to say, to read aloud from copy while you check the proof.

Proof Readers' Marks - To facilitate corrections, a system of arbitrary marks is used by proof readers. Figure LXX shows a specimen of a proof sheet as it appears when corrected, with an explanation of the marks used by proof readers. More corrections are indicated here than would occur in the ordinary course of printing, the purpose being to illustrate most of the points involved in correcting proof. A great deal of time in making corrections will be saved if these are employed.

Figure LXX: Marks used by Proofreaders

Preparation of Copy - Copy intended for the printer should be written on one side of the paper only. It should never be rolled, but sent flat or folded. The margins should be liberal. The pages should be numbered consecutively. Inserted pages or matter should be correctly indicated. Manuscript should be as accurate as possible before sending to the printer. Changes in type cost money; the addition or omission of a single word in the middle of a paragraph may necessitate resetting the whole of the paragraph from that point on.

Secretarial Problems: Review and Research Questions

  1. State briefly the factors to be taken into consideration in preparing manuscript for printers.

  2. What is “proof”?

  3. In reading proof, name the steps that should be followed.

  4. In typing manuscript for the printer, which is preferred, double or single spacing, and why?

  5. What are the advantages to be derived from using the proof readers' marks?

  6. Is it possible for one person to read proof satisfactorily? Give reasons.

  7. What disposition will you make of duplicate proof?

Secretarial Problems: Laboratory Assignments

  1. The manager will assign proof to be read and corrected by you. This will be found in the Exercise Book.

  2. Dictation.

  3. Transcription.