Learning how to write a memo will help you effectively communicate with the people in your company.
A memorandum, a memo, is a short letter used for internal communication inside a business or organization. When sending a business memo, the sender usually targets a large group of people, like an entire department. This is separate from an email, targeting just one or a handful of recipients.
You will use a memo for several reasons, including informing a department of a new policy within the organization, telling staff of policy changes, or alerting the company to an upcoming event. Sending a memo ensures that everyone who needs the information receives the same information, creating less confusion and frustration within the organization.
Memo writing is not difficult, but many people are not taught how to write a memo in their business training. If you are tasked with writing this type of business document, this guide will help you do it well.
- Materials needed
- Step 1. Study Memo Templates
- Step 2. Write the Heading and Subject Line
- Step 3. State the Purpose of the Memo
- Step 4. Give Background Information
- Step 5. Outline the Method of Follow-Up
- Step 6. Summarize Your Points
- Step 7. Include a Call to Action
- Step 8. Use a Direct and Clear Writing Style
- Step 9. Add Attachments If Needed
- Step 10. Proofread and Edit The Memo Before Sending
- Writing material such as pen and paper
- Headed paper
- Email access
Step 1. Study Memo Templates
Consider studying memo templates to help you know how to write one effectively. Then, consider writing a template you can use within your organization to make your memo writing effectively. Create templates for the common types of memos you send that you can pull up and fill in when the need arises.
Step 2. Write the Heading and Subject Line
The first four lines of a memo template are considered the heading and subject line. This is one of the most essential parts of a memo because it shows who the memo is from, who it is for, when it was sent and what the main subject is.
The heading and subject line look like this:
Fill in each of these lines in the memo heading with accurate information. Then, at the top of the page, before this information, write “Memorandum” so the recipient knows what type of communication it is. The subject of the memo needs to be clear and concise, telling what the purpose of the letter is.
Step 3. State the Purpose of the Memo
Include the purpose of your memo in the first paragraph. Think of the opening paragraph of your memo as a thesis statement in a research paper. It tells the purpose of a memo and gives the reader a reason to continue reading. You are not required to write a salutation with this type of business communication because memo writing aims to be as concise and straightforward as possible.
The memo’s first paragraph should tell the reader why you are writing. You can even say, “I am writing to inform you,” or something similar. This paragraph should be one to three sentences and outline the letter’s key points. Put essential information in this first paragraph to ensure everyone knows what the communication is regarding
Step 4. Give Background Information
In the second paragraph, you will give the background information, context, or supporting evidence for the items in paragraph one. For example, if paragraph one invites the reader to attend a company event, paragraph two will tell the reader why their attendance matters or the event is essential to the organization’s growth.
The background information should be three to five sentences long. It should not repeat information found in the body of the memo, however, but should give some background that indicates why the rest of the memo is important.
Step 5. Outline the Method of Follow-Up
The body of the emo should explain the key points concisely. Use four to 10 lines or three to five sentences, and use bullet points if they help keep things concise. In these body paragraphs, you should have one key point per paragraph. Use white space liberally. Do not repeat yourself.
Step 6. Summarize Your Points
The final paragraph should tell the reader how they can follow up on your email. For example, you could ask them to RSVP to the invitation or email you directly with questions. If no direct follow-up is needed, say “Thank you for your attention to this matter” or something similar. You can also summarize the main points in this paragraph.
If your desired action is more than two to three sentences, use bullet points or a numbered list to state what you want people to do. This will ensure that readers can see what they are expected to do after reading the memo, even if they are scanning it and not reading with purpose. You will not sign the letter at the end of the memo like you would with an email because the sender’s name is listed in the “from” part of the heading.
Step 7. Include a Call to Action
All memos need to have an action plan or call to action. Your readers need to know what is expected of them and how they can follow that expectation. You can include email addresses and phone numbers in the CTA if appropriate. The intended action needs to be in the first and last paragraphs and may also appear in the body.
Step 8. Use a Direct and Clear Writing Style
The writing style of a memo is informative and direct. The goal is to pass along the desired information and request a desired action. Write in first and second person voice, and use imperative sentences when appropriate.
Step 9. Add Attachments If Needed
Sometimes a memo will require attachments to prove the information provided within the letter. Attach these in a way that the reader can easily access them. This method will depend on your organization’s tools, but make sure they are accessible. A memo is not the place to send a vast number of attachments. Instead, only send attachments that are necessary for the memo. Avoid using long sentences.
Step 10. Proofread and Edit The Memo Before Sending
Because you will send a memo to many people within your organization, always proofread it carefully before sending it. You do not want to send a memo with a glaring typo or poorly communicated intent, as this will not help you appear as a competent professional. Also, proofread your memo for accuracy. Make sure contact information, dates, and times are all accurate. This accuracy will help you avoid miscommunication.
When editing for grammar, we also recommend taking the time to improve the readability score of a piece of writing before publishing or submitting it.