Writing a business memorandum (memo)
Establish the purpose
In business, the purpose of a memo is to provide or request information from people within your organisation. It is important to carefully consider the key point of the memo and who should receive it. A memo that is written clearly using a friendly and professional tone avoids any opportunity for misinterpretation.
Structure of a memo
Part 1: HEADER
TO: provide the names and titles of everyone who will receive your memo
FROM: provide your complete name and title
DATE: provide the complete and accurate date – don’t forget to include the year
SUBJECT: provide a brief, yet specific description of what the memo is about
Part 2: MESSAGE
Introduction – explain the purpose
Body – addresses the information required
Conclusion – (Summary and possible recommendations)
Each paragraph contains one main idea or point.
A paragraph can be one sentence long.
Arrange points in a logical sequence.
Example of a memo
Presentation of your memo
Ensure your memo:
- is Word-processed
- has a simple and professional look
- is centred on the page from top to bottom
- is left justified, with single or 1.5 spacing within paragraphs and double spacing between paragraphs
- uses a 12-point font size and a standard font like Times New Roman or Arial that is easy to read
- includes sufficient white space to enhance clarity
Tips for writing your memo
- Your memos should be succinct, formal, clear, interesting and easy to read
- It should be logically organised, accurate, well-researched and informative
- Avoid using technical jargon and abbreviations that the recipient may not understand
- Avoid the use of slang, colloquialisms and contractions
- Use action verbs and an active voice to convey your confidence
- Highlight important points and reduce unnecessary wordiness with headings, sub-headings, bullet points and numbered lists
- Check for correct grammar, spelling and punctuation
Manalo, E., Wong-Toi, G. & Bartlett-Trafford, J. (2009). The business of writing (3rd ed.). New Zealand: Pearson Education New Zealand.