Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)

There are two ways to communicate in business: (1) the Aesop's fable and (2) the Bottom Line Up Front. In the Aesop's fable you have to hold the receiver's attention with some elaborate (and hopefully entertaining) tale while you set them up for the moral of the story. That is, they are left wondering where the heck this is all going until the end. This is a terrible way to do business. Get to the point.

The better way is to let them know at the outset what the required action or point of the communication is. They are much more likely to give your communication the proper attention, and you have helped everyone involved work more productively. Here are some examples:

BLUF Exercises

Here are two classic examples of the nightmarish emails I get from students. (And these are two of the short ones.) There are one or two questions they want answered. Those be the BLUF. Find them, then rewrite the email with all the unnecessary yap removed (i.e., most of the email).

Exercise 1

hi. i hope i have the right guy.

my name is XXXXXXX. i asked XXXXXXX about a class, and she directed me to a Dr. Stouffer....and yours was the closest name on the list. i figured she may have just misspelled it. ..or maybe it's me who is wrong. in any case i have a question about a marketing class. please excuse me if i have the wrong person.

i am a student who is hoping to finish up class by the end of next summer, but the last class i need "selling and sales management" is scheduled at a time (M/W) next spring when i am unable to take it because it conflicts with my work schedule.

i was told i should ask about a replacement class. is there one...either spring semester or in the summer?

any suggestions or information would be greatly appreciated.

thank you.

Exercise 2

Dear Dr. Stauffer,

The secretary of the marketing and management department gave me your e-mail address. I just have a few questions about the Master of Science in Marketing. My name is XXXXXXXX and I am entering my second semester as a graduate student. I recently decided to switch from the MBA program to the marketing program. I have figured out my schedule based on the classes offered previous semesters. I would like to know if these classes are going to be offered the same semesters they have in the past? I have it scheduled that I could possibly graduate in December of this year. I also have a question about the catalog. It states under the section called support course work outside marketing that six hours are needed, but there are three courses and it does not specifically say choose two of the three. I wanted to know if I had to take all three because this would make the marketing program a 39 hour program and the catalog states it is only a 36 hour program. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time.


Time-lapse photography images of Stauffer aging while trying to decipher a student email message.

Now here's a particularly bad piece of bureaublab from my employer. I opened the message, yawned, and started to delete it. Then I noticed there was some action I was supposed to take. Yikes. This was a pretty important task they needed done, but as you can see, it's as if the email were designed to force people to miss the requirement. See if you can divine the required action and rewrite it as the BLUF.

Exercise 3

Dear Joseph Stauffer,

The University of Texas System (UT System), Office of Risk Management is pleased to inform you that we have contracted with XXXXXXXX to provide medical treatment for UT System employees with work-related injuries or illnesses.

In accordance with the Texas Labor Code, all employees of the UT System institutions who are injured in the course and scope of their employment are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care to treat their work-related injury or illness. The UT System is self-insured for workers' compensation insurance and the program is administered by the Office of Risk Management.

Beginning April 1, 2013, if you are injured on the job, you will be required to obtain medical care from an XXXXXXXX network provider unless it is an emergency. If you have a medical emergency, you should go to the closest urgent care center or emergency room. XXXXXXXX is a Texas Department of Insurance certified workers' compensation health care network. The XXXXXXXX includes over 3,000 credentialed providers including treating physicians and specialists. Approximately 85% of injured UT System employees are already being treated by providers in the XXXXXXXX

Current claims handling procedures will remain in effect for injuries occurring before April 1, as well as for injured workers who live outside the network service area. To determine if you are in the network service area please follow the link below to the Notice of Network Requirements and see the list of the counties covered by the network.

This network only applies for work-related injuries and has no impact on health insurance benefits offered by The University of Texas System.

Texas Department of Insurance requires that employees be notified that the UT System has a workers' compensation health care network. Network related information can be found in the Notice of Network Requirements. The language in the acknowledgement form below is required by the Texas Department of Insurance and the reference to an HMO may not apply to you.

And finally, I'll give you a quarter if you can tell me what exactly this student wanted. It mystifies me to this day.

Exercise 4

I don't know about the faculty at XXXXXXXX, but I would like to seal this chapter for us all and am available this week to come and sign any forms I am short of. I want to stay in communication and be on board for a plan.

This article satisfies Squid Commo Objective (SCO) #3

- Stop wasting working people's time