How To Write A Memo: Format And Examples

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 13, 2021
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Communication propels a business’ productivity. One technique that many companies use to communicate internally quickly is writing memos. Most people have heard the term “memo” before but are unsure of the formatting this professional exchange requires.

What Is a Memo?

An office memo is a method of communicating basic information and alerts to co-workers or employees within a company. Usually, memos are sent out to multiple people to bring mass awareness to a specific reminder, event, or policy update.

It is a declaration that informs people working within a company and often requires the receiver of the memo to take some kind of action.

Since memos are sent out to alert an entire group of staff, it only handles information useful to multiple parties or a whole division. Suppose there is a situation that only concerns one or a few people within the company. In that case, a simple business email is sent out to these individuals instead of a widespread memo.

A professional memo differs from an email in its length and formality. There are distinct formatting rules to follow when writing a business email or letter that aren’t required when constructing a memo, such as salutations.

A memo is less restrictive in structure because this allows the sender to get right to the point of their message.

Why Is Memo Format Important?

The format of a memo is directly tied to its effectiveness. The purpose of a business memo is to bring attention to something that concerns everyone in the organization. The format of a memo requires that the communication be brief and to the point.

Without adhering to this formatting, the message of the memo likely becomes confusing.

Types of Memos

The type of memo used in a professional exchange depends on the goal it’s attempting to achieve. Below are a few examples of the types of memos to send depending on the situation:

  1. Information inquiry. A popular reason for sending a memo out to a professional team is to request information. Everyone who works within a company serves a specific role they know the most about. Sending a short memo is an effective way to gather information from various branches.

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  2. A call to action. The purpose of a business memo is often to ask the receivers to do something. This is a call-to-action memo – whether to stop a certain behavior, implement a new company-wide policy, or request attendance at an event.

  3. Progress updates. If an organization handles long-term projects, they request periodic updates from its employees regarding their progress. A memo is a great way to solicit progress updates because it’s direct.

  4. Confirmation. It’s recommended to send a confirmation after discussing any professional decision or having a business meeting. This is done by sending a confirmation memo to the parties involved.

    A confirmation memo acts as a record of communication or plans for a meeting, in case either party needs to refer back to the details.

Five Steps on How to Format a Memo

Regardless of the memo’s purpose, the formatting remains the same. Below are five steps on how to format a memo correctly:

  1. Write a header. The first step to formatting a memo is by writing a proper header. The memo header starts by addressing the recipients by names and titles. Your information as the sender should also be distinct at the beginning of the memo.

  2. Fill in the date and subject line. Since a memo serves as a record of professional exchange, it’s important to include the date early on. Also, include a direct subject line that gives the reader a brief overview of the information to follow.

  3. Introduction. Start a memo as you would start any business email by introducing the topic you’ll be discussing in the body paragraphs. A professional greeting isn’t necessary for a memo, so get right to the purpose of the correspondence.

  4. Write the body. The most important portion of a memo is the body because it describes the matter at hand that requires attention. Be detailed in describing the situation or request, but still keep it as short as possible. Usually, the body of a memo won’t exceed a paragraph or two.

  5. Close professionally. End an office memo using a traditional closing with your name and contact details or a final call to action. Also, include relevant contact information, such as your title, email, and phone number. A memo asking the recipients to do something gives them all the resources they need to complete the task.

Tips for Writing a Business Memo

  1. Be straightforward. A memo communicates information within a company simply and directly. When you’re writing the body of a memo, be as straightforward as possible. Unlike in a business letter that begins with pleasantries, you want to only include information relevant to the purpose of the memo.

  2. A professional salutation is optional. Since a memo is supposed to be a more targeted divulgence of information, a professional salutation is not needed. When sending out a mass memo to every company member, many people will prefer to skip this step of a formal letter and begin with the introduction.

  3. Closing with a signature can be more effective. Using a signature at the end of a memo is optional. Sometimes, closing a memo without a signature can be more effective because it gives the document a more formal feel, rather than conversational.

  4. Use bullet-points. One technique that helps keep memo length concise is using bullet-points to get information across clearly. While bullet-points typically aren’t used in professional emails, they are fair game in business memos.

  5. Proofread the memo before sending it. As a professional, proofreading any written document should be second nature. Even though a memo is a brief and casual exchange of information, typos and grammar mistakes are still distracting to a reader.

Memo Examples

Example #1 Information inquiry memo

To: Recent hires in the marketing division of Jackpot Brands

From: Scott Trainor, Marketing Manager at Jackpot Brands

Subject Line: Tax Information for Recent Hires

Hello,

This memo is being sent out to the ten recent hires in the marketing division of Jackpot Brands and is about their tax information.

Before finalizing the onboarding process and making you eligible for receiving paychecks, we need to verify your information. Attached below is a blank W-9 form. The information we need is your full name, address, and social security number. All other paperwork will be completed on your first day.

Thank you, and congratulations again on the job offer.

Yours Sincerely,

Scott Trainer
ScottTrainer@Jackpot.com
(853)-684-4648

Example #2 Call to action memo

To: Kim Taylor, Administrative Associate Manager, Brooklyn Medical Center

From: Bethany Reynolds, Human Resources Director

Subject Line: Mandatory Sexual Harassment Seminar

This message is to inform all administrative managers at Brooklyn Medical Center of an upcoming mandatory meeting.

Every year, the Brooklyn Medical Center staff participates in a seminar to learn more about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to handle it in the unfortunate event that it arises. The seminar will cover a variety of topics, such as verbal sexual harassment and the process for reporting.

The sexual harassment seminar for administrative personnel will take place on December 14th, 2020, at 1 pm in conference room A. It should run about two hours long with a ten-minute break between lectures.

Once again, attendance is mandatory.

Example #3 Progress updates memo

To: All ninth-grade teachers in the history department at John Graves High School

From: Ryan Boyce, Education Administrator, John Graves High School

Subject Line: Progress of ninth grade history students

Hello all,

I’m reaching out to all ninth-grade teachers in the history department at John Graves High School to get a progress update on their class’ preparedness for the statewide exams.

The statewide history exams are given to ninth-grade students towards the end of every school year to measure their material retention. The student’s scores are reflective of our educational institution’s success. This year, the statewide history exam is scheduled to take place on April 30th, 2021, at 3 pm.

As we are now about halfway through the year, your student’s strengths and weaknesses should be apparent. I’m asking for a detailed overview of your ninth-grade class’s progress in this matter.

Thank you for providing the update. Please refer any questions to educational administrator Ryan Boyce at RyanBoyce@JohnsGraves.edu.

Example #4 Confirmation Memo

To: Tom Carson, Associate Salesperson, Deed’s Technology Company

From: Anthony Michaels, Regional Sales Manager, Deed’s Technology Company

Subject Line: Confirmation of scheduled meeting

This email is to confirm a scheduled meeting for Tom Carson, an associate salesperson at Deed’s Technology Company.

Your request for a formal meeting to review your performance and the possibility of a promotion with the regional sales manager has been approved. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 21st, 2020, at 9:30 am. It will take place at the Deed’s sales headquarters located at 73 Blake Ave, Miami, FL 64828, in room 748.

The performance review will take place with your regional supervisor, Anthony Michaels. Please arrive on time and be prepared to discuss the details of your employment.

Thank you.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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