describing the parts of memos, and providing examples and explanations that For example, "Clothes" as a subject line could mean anything from a dress code.
“Memos” was written by Lee Ann Hodges, Tri-County Community College
Short for “memorandum,” a memo is a type of document used to communicate with others in the same organization. Memos (or memoranda) are typically used for fairly short messages of one page or less, but informal reports of several pages may also employ memo format.
Memos are distinguished by a header that includes DATE, TO, FROM, and SUBJECT lines. Other lines, such as CC or BCC, may be added as needed. An RE (“Reference”) line may be used instead of SUBJECT, but this use is becoming rarer as “RE” is often mistaken as “Reply” because of its use in email.
These headings may be double- or single-spaced, and the SUBJECT line is often in all capital letters. Furthermore, the order of the items can vary. Many organizations have their own style preferences on these issues. If not, the order listed above, double-spaced, is the most common.
The text of memos typically uses block format, with single-spaced lines, an extra space between paragraphs, and no indentions for new paragraphs. However, if a report using memo format stretches to a few pages in length, double spacing may be used to improve its readability.
Professional communication forms are organized according to one of two strategies: Direct and indirect.
The direct approach is used for good news or routine communication; the indirect approach is used for persuasive, sales, or bad news messages.
A directly stated purpose is welcome in good news or routine messages but could be viewed as abrupt or insensitive in a bad news or persuasive message. When the audience is not receptive to the message, it is best to lead up to the purpose gradually.
In both types of organization, action information (such as deadlines or contact information) or a courteous closing statement is placed in the last paragraph.
|Organization Strategy||Definition||Type of Document||Content|
|Direct||Writer arrives at purpose quickly, sometimes in the first sentence.||Used for good news or routine communication (audience is receptive or neutral)||Purpose||Details||Action information or courteous close|
|Indirect||Writer gradually builds up to the purpose, which is stated in the body.||Used for negative, persuasive, or sales messages (audience is not receptive)||Relevant, attention-getting statements||Purpose statement is sandwiched by details.||Action information or courteous close|
While memo reports and policy memos are examples of documents that have a more formal tone, most memos will have a conversational style—slightly informal but still professional. The audience of memos are those with whom the writer works, so the writing style usually assumes a relationship with them (and therefore a certain lack of formality); just keep in mind that the relationship is a professional one, so the writing should reflect that. Furthermore, as with all workplace documents, the audience may contain a variety of readers, and the style and tone should be appropriate for all of their technical and authority levels.
|Too Informal||Too Formal, Stuffy-Sounding, Wordy||Appropriate Balance|
|Hi, everyone. Hope you had a great weekend. You know those awards we give out every so often? It’s time for those again!||Variety Craft Supplies’ mission is to provide customers with affordable, quality supplies with superb customer service. Excellent customer service includes being knowledgeable about the supplies, but it also goes beyond that. It’s about having the right attitude about helping customers. It’s time to reward employees who have a customer-oriented outlook.|
Please submit your nominations for the quarterly Customer Service Excellence Award by April 8. Help us identify great employees!
Memos are used in a variety of workplace communication situations, from documentation of procedures and policies to simple announcements. Below are some common types of memos:
Memos may be distributed manually through print medium in organizations in which not all employees have access to email. Organizations with access to email may distribute memos as attachments to email.
In organizations in which email reaches every employee (or every employee in the memo’s audience), writers must determine whether to send a memo or an email message to convey their information. In cases such as this, writers should consider three factors: the nature of the message, the depth/number of its details, and its likelihood of being printed for easier reference. These types of messages should be written up in memo format and attached to an email message for fast (and environmentally friendly) distribution:
*Some articles are used across multiple genres and disciplines.
How to Write a Memo [Template & Examples]. Caroline Forsey DATE: SUBJECT: I'm writing to inform you that [reason for writing memo].
Memo writing is something of an art form. A letter is not a memo, nor is a memo a letter. A memo is a short, to the point communication conveying your thoughts, reactions or opinion on something. A memo can call people to action or broadcast a bit of timely news. With memo writing, shorter is better.
As with all writing, memo writing needs a structure. Because they are short, rambling meanderings will soon destroy the memo’s effectiveness and become a waste of productive time to those that read it and to the person who wrote it.
If you have something longer than a page, it’s better to send it as an attachment or a document that follows the memo used as a cover letter. Never make a memo too long. If someone takes a glance at a memo that appears to be too long, there’s a good chance it will be set aside for a time when they aren’t busy. This can defeat your memo’s purpose which is timely communication.
Memos can be approached in different ways depending on your purpose:
There are three basic reasons to write a memo:
Regardless of your purpose, memos are generally divided into segments in order to organize the information and to achieve your intention.
The heading segment follows this general format:
TO: (readers' names and job titles)
CC: (any people you are copying the memo to)
FROM: (your name and job title)
DATE: (complete and current date)
SUBJECT: (what the memo is about, highlighted in some way)
The gist of a memo should occur in the opening sentences/paragraphs. It's a good idea to include some information about the context, a task statement and perhaps a purpose statement.
If your memo is longer than a page, you may want to include a separate summary segment. This segment provides a brief statement of the key recommendations you have reached. These will help your reader understand the key points of the memo immediately. This segment may also include references to methods and sources you have used in your research, but remember to keep it brief.
You can help your reader understand your memo better by using headings for the summary and the discussion segments that follow it. Try to write headings that are short but that clarify the content of the segment. For example, instead of using "Summary" for your heading, try "New Rat-Part Elimination System," which is much more specific. The major headings you choose here are the ones that will appear in your purpose-statement forecast.
The discussion segments are the parts in which you get to include all the juicy details that support your ideas. Keep two things in mind:
You're almost done. After the reader has read your information, you want to close with a courteous ending stating what action you want your reader to take. Make sure you consider how the reader will benefit from the desired actions and how you can make those actions easier. For example, you might say, "I will be glad to discuss this recommendation with you during our Tuesday trip to the spa and follow through on any decisions you make."
Make sure you document your findings or provide detailed information whenever necessary. You can do this by attaching lists, graphs, tables, etc. at the end of your memo. Be sure to refer to your attachments in your memo and add a notation about what is attached below your closing, like this:
Attached: Several Complaints about Product, January - June 2007
To: Mary McGee, Alistair Warwranka, George Lipton
CC: Dorothy Barrie
From: The Boss
Date: June 1, 2006
Re: Need for New Memo Format
I’ve noticed that we don’t seem to be able to communicate important changes, requirements and progress reports throughout the company as effectively as we should. I propose developing one consistent memo format, recognizable by all staff as the official means of communicating company directives.
While I know this seems like a simple solution, I believe it will cut down on needless e-mail, improve universal communication and allow the staff to save necessary information for later referral.
Please talk among yourselves to determine the proper points of memo writing and return the input to me by 12 noon. I will then send out a notice to the entire staff regarding the new memo format.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this.
To: All Staff
From: The Boss
Date: June 1, 2006
Re: New Memo Format Effective June 1
In order to make interoffice communications easier, please adhere to the following guidelines for writing effective memos:
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me. Thank you.
To: The Boss
From: Sue Masterson
Date: May 15, 2007
Re: Update on the T-12 Phase Three testing
As we enter Phase Four of the T-12 testing, I wanted to provide a progress overview of the Phase Three testing.
[The body of the memo might include two-four paragraphs outlining the purpose of the memo. If this is a longer memo, each paragraph will have a subhead to help guide the reader through the document. Finally, there is a summary paragraph, which features bullets highlighting the main points of each previous paragraph, and concludes the memo with a stated action required by the reader or writer.]
A memorandum, more commonly known as a memo, is a short message or record used for internal communication in a business. Once the primary form of internal written communication, memorandums have declined in use since the introduction of email and other forms of electronic messaging; however, being able to write clear memos certainly can serve you well in writing internal business emails, as they often serve the same purpose.
Memos can be used to quickly communicate with a wide audience something brief but important, such as procedural changes, price increases, policy additions, meeting schedules, reminders for teams, or summaries of agreement terms, for example.
Communications strategist Barbara Diggs-Brown says that an effective memo is "short, concise, highly organized, and never late. It should anticipate and answer all questions that a reader might have. It never provides unnecessary or confusing information."
Be clear, be focused, be brief yet complete. Take a professional tone and write as if the world could read it—that is, don't include any information that's too sensitive for everyone to see, especially in this age of copy and paste or "click and forward."
Start with the basics: to whom the article is addressed, the date, and the subject line. Start the body of the memo with a clear purpose, state what you need the readers to know, and conclude with what you need readers to do, if necessary. Remember that employees may just skim the memo upon receipt, so use short paragraphs, subheads, and where you can, use lists. These are "points of entry" for the eye so the reader can refer back easily to the part of the memo that he or she needs.
Don't forget to proofread. Reading aloud can help you find dropped words, repetition, and awkward sentences.
Here is a sample internal memo from a fictional publishing company informing employees about upcoming schedule changes due to a Thanksgiving holiday. Production could also have sent separate memos to separate departments as well, especially if there were more detail that each department needed and that wouldn't pertain to the other departments.
From: E.J. Smith, Production Lead
Subject: Thanksgiving Print Schedule Change
Production would like to remind everyone that the Thanksgiving holiday will affect our print deadlines this month. Any hard-copy pages that would normally go out to the printer via UPS on a Thursday or Friday during the week will need to go out by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 21.
Ad Sales and Editorial Departments
Photography and Graphics Departments
Thank you in advance, everyone, for your help in getting materials in as early as possible and your consideration for the production department staff.
The following is a fictional memo to set up a meeting with members of a team who are returning from a trade show.
From: C.C. Jones, Marketing Supervisor
Subject: Trade Show Return Meeting
Upon your return to work Friday, July 20, from the trade show, let's plan a noon lunch meeting in the east wing meeting room to go over how the show went. Let's plan to discuss what worked well and what didn't, such as:
I know that when you get back from a trade show you have a million things to follow up on, so we will keep the meeting to 90 minutes or less. Please come prepared with your feedback and constructive criticism on the marketing aspects of the show. Existing-customer feedback and new customer leads will be covered in a separate meeting with product and sales teams. Thank you for your work at the show.
Diggs-Brown, Barbara. The PR Styleguide. 3rd ed, Cengage Learning, 2012.
SUBJECT: Think of the SUBJECT line as the title for the memo. . While memo reports and policy memos are examples of documents that have a more formal.
Set up your header. Keep in mind that everything on the template is changeable. You can customize every part of the memo template to fit your particular needs. For instance, you can add your logo and copyright sign in the header section of the template. Just click on the header section and type in your company’s information.
Fill in the fields in the template’s header. Be sure to fill in the "TO" and "FROM" fields, as well as "CC" and "SUBJECT” fields. Use caution when filling these fields to ensure that you have not skipped over any field, leaving some of them blank, or that you have not made an error in typing somewhere along the way.
Make sure to check the footer. The footer is the space at the bottom of the page that often has additional information. You might include your company information or personal contact information here. It is important that you take the time to ensure that this information is correct. The last thing you want to happen is to write an excellent memo and then have incorrect contact information or have that information missing altogether.
Customize your look. One of the most appealing things about the template is that you can even change the color of the document. This allows you to exercise a certain degree of personality and makes the entire document stand out more precisely. It also allows you to choose a color that is appropriate for the situation at hand in order to ensure that the memo is visually striking, yet professional.
Save your memo as a unique document. Be sure to save a copy of this memo. Then you will have a digital backup document that provides proof of your business communication.
Save the template so that you can use it again. Whenever you need to use the memo for a slightly different subject in the future, simply change each field to suit the particular memo subject. This will save you time and will also help you create a consistent memo that is professional and that will get the attention of people so the memo will be read in a prompt manner.
Subject: Date: And yet the memo heading is a source of unnecessary and costly mistakes. Perhaps Compare the three examples below: A good subject line.