What Is the Format of a Memo?

What Is the Format of a Memo?

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 the format of 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, the format of a memo is 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. The format of a memo 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.

How do you write a memo?

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.

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.

What is a memo sample?

Here’s an example of what a memo might look like:

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.

How do you get a memo template on Word?

Microsoft Word includes 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 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.

30 Responses to "What Is the Format of a Memo?"
    • ISAAC KWARTENG | July 8, 2019 at 8:26 am

      very educative piece

    • 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.

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

        Thank you for this helpful feedback, Reginald.

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

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

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

        Thank you!

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

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

    • 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!

    • 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!

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

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

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

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

      Thank you hope to improve my grades

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

      What type of paper does one use for a memo?

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

      Thank you

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

      Thank you.Be blessed

    • 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!

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

      Enlightening

      • Hannah Stacy | August 6, 2020 at 2:14 pm

        Glad you found the article valuable!

    • 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!

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

      This is a very helpful article. Thank you!

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