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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)

Note:

 

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

Reference

Manalo, E., Wong-Toi, G. & Bartlett-Trafford, J. (2009). The business of writing (3rd ed.). New Zealand: Pearson Education New Zealand.