What Is the Format of a Memo?

Memo Formatting: Everything You Need to Know

Kelly Spors

As your small business or organization grows, odds are that you’ll need to write plenty of short and direct communications to your staff—which means you’ll need to know memo formatting.

So, what is a memo? A memo, or memorandum, is one of the most common forms of business communication. While there are many types of business letter formats, memo formats are an entirely different animal. A salutation and signature are no longer necessary, because the point is to convey needed information or communicate a call to action as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A well-written business letter is made up of seven basic parts, which may include an enclosures line as needed. However, a memorandum format is much simpler. You write “Memo” or “Memorandum” at the top, followed by a To line, a From line, a Date line, a Subject line, and then the actual body of the message.

Traditionally, you would print out a memo and distribute it to the relevant parties inside your small business. Today, even if you choose to send your memo as an email message, using some of the tips in this article will enable you to communicate important information to colleagues in a way that demonstrates your professionalism and business communications know-how.

memorandum example

How do you write a memo?

Not sure how to write a memo? Or what the best business memo format is? Just as there are many nuances and rules around how to write a business letter, there are guidelines that you should generally try to follow when writing a memo.

It is best to write in an extremely crisp, to the point, businesslike tone. Memos are often used for internal company communications. You don’t want to waste your colleagues’ time with niceties or by being overly conversational. Avoid using emotional language—such as, “I would be happy if everyone took turns cleaning the microwave in the break room”—because you might rub people the wrong way. The same goes for writing IN ALL CAPS or using exclamation points, especially if the memorandum is conveying news that may upset people.

It is always better to be straightforward and to share information as quickly as possible.

The memorandum’s message should start with a declaration of purpose: “I am writing to inform you….” “The purpose of this memo is to….” Then summarize the information relevant to the matter at hand. You can close the memo with a call to action, repeating the request you made at the beginning of the memo.

Make sure to give the grammar and spelling in the memo a thorough check. You don’t want to turn the office into an impromptu middle school English class. Also choose easy-to-read fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial.

Memorandum format

What is a memo written for?

While the format of a memo should generally stay the same, the tone and content can change depending on the audience. For example, a memo about organizing a summer picnic for the staff will have a much more cheerful tone than a memorandum informing everyone that the company has to skip raises due to a decrease in business.

Writing a memo is comparable to jumping up on a desk in the office to tell everyone they need to do something, so always write a memo with the assumption that anyone could end up reading it. The subject could range from a reminder to get expense reports turned in by the end of the month, to the need to make a final sales push before the end of the quarter. A memo might also go to an outside group, such as customers, if it’s reporting on a routine matter requiring action, such as bill payments coming due.

What a memo should not be is a report about everything you’re doing. Limit the subject of the memo to the particular matter at hand that you need people to act on (for example, “This memo is a reminder that expense reports need to be submitted by the end of day on Friday.” “I’m writing this memo to inform you that we need some extra effort from everyone before the end of the month to meet our sales goals.”)

How long should a memo be?

The most important rule when composing a memo is that less is more. You don’t want your employees or colleagues spending all their time reading your lengthy memorandums (or even worse, ignoring them). Get to the point quickly, so they can take the action you are asking of them.

You’re probably headed for trouble if your memo is running longer than a page. If it does run over one page, it’s best to split the memo by using headings to make it more digestible. Better yet, ask yourself if the scope of the memo is becoming too broad and act accordingly.

how to write a memorandum

Business memo format example

Here’s a business memo example:

MEMORANDUM

To: All Staff

From: Tanya Smith, CEO

Date: July 18, 2018

Subject: NewTech Software Issues

It has come to my attention that many employees are having trouble using our recently acquired NewTech sales management software because it currently creates duplicate client entries. Some of you have stopped using the system altogether. We want this software to help you do your jobs better, not to take up more time. Therefore, it is fine to hold off using it until we resolve the technical issues with NewTech staff.

memo writing

How do you get a memo template on Word?

Once you know how to write a memorandum you can use Microsoft Word to type it out. Here you’ll find more than a dozen featured memo templates you can use. You simply browse through the templates and click to download the one you would like to use.

If you decide you don’t like the style or the theme while you are working on the memo, you still can change the whole document by applying a new style set or theme:

  • In Word 2016 and Word 2013, the choices are under the Design tab.
  • In Word 2010 and Word 2007, go to Page Layout > Themes.

Remember that the point of any business correspondence is to elicit some kind of action from your colleagues. Understanding the format of a memo and the proper memo writing style will help ensure that your message—and you—are taken seriously.

As a small business owner, you’re an expert, too. We want to hear about how you feel about business letters. Let us—and your fellow SBOs—know by sharing a comment below.

68 Responses to "Memo Formatting: Everything You Need to Know"
    • Tonya Laws | July 25, 2021 at 11:47 am

      Thank you for the information.

      • Small Biz Ahead | July 26, 2021 at 9:40 am

        You’re welcome, Tonya!

    • Steven Marks | July 20, 2021 at 7:47 am

      I believe that they should be short, directly to the point or subject at hand. They should not include names other than the department name it is referring to if that is the case. It should let it be known that results are expected, but without being disrespectful.

    • Amber Flores | July 19, 2021 at 5:54 pm

      A memo is quicker to the point when I need an answer right away from my co-workers but I wouldn’t rule out a business letter because it does set up a proper letter for anyone that needs something more complicated or important.

      • Small Biz Ahead | July 20, 2021 at 8:48 am

        Thanks for sharing your insights, Amber!

    • Shelly Taylor | July 17, 2021 at 10:02 am

      Great Information and simple to understand. Thank you!

      • Small Biz Ahead | July 19, 2021 at 8:06 am

        You’re welcome, Shelly! Thank you for commenting!

    • Kudakwashe Victor Chapwanya | June 22, 2021 at 3:39 am

      Grateful for the simple, on point explanations. Helped a lot with writing my assignment.

      • Small Biz Ahead | June 22, 2021 at 11:39 am

        Thanks for the nice comment! We’re glad our articles are helpful!

    • Pastor Monebi Lawrence O | June 8, 2021 at 12:37 am

      Thank you. It’s helpful.

      • Small Biz Ahead | June 8, 2021 at 8:34 am

        You’re welcome! We’re glad you found the article useful and helpful.

    • Olengo | May 7, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      Excellent stuff.

      • Small Biz Ahead | May 10, 2021 at 9:57 am

        We’re so glad you liked it!

    • Yabefa Angatimi | April 21, 2021 at 6:40 pm

      So educative. Thanks

      • Small Biz Ahead | April 22, 2021 at 8:13 am

        You’re welcome! We’re glad you liked the article!

    • Michael Ayelabola | February 22, 2021 at 11:45 am

      Do memorandum letters have paragraphs?

      • Small Biz Ahead | February 23, 2021 at 9:02 am

        Yes, you can include paragraphs into your memorandum. In fact, they can be important for breaking up the content and making it more digestible for your readers. However, it’s important to keep your memorandum as short as possible! You don’t want it to run longer than a page in length.

    • Fekerte Gessesse | January 27, 2021 at 10:26 am

      Great

      • Small Biz Ahead | January 29, 2021 at 11:27 am

        Thank you!

    • Janet Pauls | January 19, 2021 at 2:33 am

      Thank you. Very helpful

      • Small Biz Ahead | January 20, 2021 at 2:55 pm

        So glad you found the article helpful, Janet!

    • Josephine Nicole Woto | January 16, 2021 at 1:29 am

      Thank you so much for the memo. You helped me learn new skills today about memo writing. Let God bless you 🙏🙏🙏

      • Small Biz Ahead | January 20, 2021 at 2:59 pm

        So glad you liked our article, Josephine! Thanks for the comment!

    • MOHD FAIZAN KHAN | December 9, 2020 at 9:11 pm

      Very helpful..
      Thank you!

      • Liz Macauley | December 15, 2020 at 3:45 pm

        Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Ayebo Solomon | December 1, 2020 at 8:08 am

      Thank you so much for the information

      • Liz Macauley | December 1, 2020 at 1:17 pm

        No problem! Glad it was helpful!

    • Akidi Gloria | November 24, 2020 at 6:24 am

      Thanks a lot for the knowledge. I have not been taught this in class but the content gives me more light . thank you.

      • Liz Macauley | November 24, 2020 at 10:13 am

        Glad you found the article useful!

    • Matt May | November 17, 2020 at 11:59 am

      Thank you for writing this article. I was able to gather many notes and learn a lot through this reading. Awesome job Kelly.

      • Liz Macauley | November 17, 2020 at 1:23 pm

        Glad you enjoyed the article, Matt!

    • Elizabeth Alentibadek | October 27, 2020 at 7:06 am

      Thanks so much, very educative

    • Lori Adams | September 21, 2020 at 6:19 pm

      This is a very helpful article. Thank you!

    • Samson Luka | August 19, 2020 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you for educating me!

      • Hannah Stacy | August 20, 2020 at 3:34 pm

        Thank you for reading!

      • Rose | May 10, 2021 at 5:15 am

        Thank you for helping me.

    • ugochukwu otuonye | August 2, 2020 at 12:03 pm

      Enlightening

    • Arumse I.A | July 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm

      I need a format of memo

      • Chloe S. - Small Biz Ahead Staff | July 29, 2020 at 9:42 am

        Hello! In the bottom half of the article, you will find a sample of the a memo format. Thank you!

    • Prisca Maisiri | July 14, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you.Be blessed

    • Jose unabia | July 2, 2020 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you

    • Chukwudi Divine | June 18, 2020 at 10:55 am

      What type of paper does one use for a memo?

    • Pearl Mmou | May 28, 2020 at 9:04 am

      Thank you hope to improve my grades

    • devid | April 22, 2020 at 8:27 am

      Great article …Thanks for your great information, the content is quite interesting. When we add someone we make sure they are up to speed on Grammarly so we don’t look like morons to our clients. But Grammarly still does not assist with content performance. My CTO is downloading a free application called INK for All: http://bit.ly/2IiHXlQ with built-in artificial intelligence that looks for errors in grammar, tone, punctuation, and it knows how website lands in Google. We’re already getting results for our clients.

    • Joanzik | April 19, 2020 at 9:57 am

      Thanks a lot. It really helped me a lot.

      • Chloe Silverman | April 20, 2020 at 9:27 am

        Thank you for the comment!

    • Gene Marks | April 6, 2020 at 2:09 pm

      For Katto Benjamin
      Depends on the formality of your memo. It’s really up to you.

      • Isyaku Nurudeen | August 17, 2021 at 9:08 am

        How can I conclude it? Do I need to sign

        • Small Biz Ahead | August 25, 2021 at 1:59 pm

          I think every business memorandum should have a signature, even at the end or at the top.

    • Katto Benjamin | April 4, 2020 at 1:23 pm

      Thanks.
      But how do I conclude my memo.
      Do I need to sign
      * Names
      *Contact
      *Email

    • Dr Iliyasu Ahmed | March 17, 2020 at 5:52 am

      Thank you so much for this write up. it has helped me a lot in my office.

    • Shadrack Kaku | March 14, 2020 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you very much, God bless you.
      You’ve educated me.

    • Elizabeth Boakye | March 5, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      Very educative and simple to understand. Thank you

      • Chloe Silverman | March 6, 2020 at 8:21 am

        Thank you for the comment, Elizabeth!

    • Mohamed Amhaouch | February 26, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Thank you so much, it is a helpful text.

      • Chloe Silverman | February 26, 2020 at 11:45 am

        Thank you for reading!

    • Jacobo Sabo | February 16, 2020 at 5:19 am

      Very nice for your help to us.We still learning.

    • Arosha | October 30, 2019 at 11:19 pm

      It’s an important writing. Thank you so much.

      2
      • Chloe Silverman | October 31, 2019 at 9:56 am

        Thank you!

        1
      • zuzumbe nation | February 28, 2021 at 12:39 am

        Thank you for this good write up.

        • Small Biz Ahead | March 2, 2021 at 12:22 pm

          You’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Reginald Uhegbu | September 13, 2019 at 4:14 am

      Thank you for the information, but you never said anything about signing of the Memo. Please explain more on that.

      3
      • Chloe Silverman | September 13, 2019 at 8:31 am

        Thank you for this helpful feedback, Reginald.

        3
    • ISAAC KWARTENG | July 8, 2019 at 8:26 am

      very educative piece

      5

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