Writing a business memo helps members of an organization communicate
without the need for time-consuming meetings. It is an efficient and effective
way to convey information within an organization.
Write a business memo rather than a business letter when you are
communicating within your organization, including members of your department,
upper management, employees at another company location, etc.
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Business memos solve problems either by introducing new information to the
reader like policy changes or new products being introduced, or by persuading
the reader to take an action, such as attend a meeting, rinse the coffeepot when
empty, or change a current work procedure.
When writing a business memo, the style should be somewhat formal but it
doesn't have to sound intimidating. Your aim in writing a business memo is the
same as with other correspondence: You want to effectively communicate your
purpose to your reader.
Business memos are most effective when they connect the purpose of the writer
with the interests and needs of the reader. When planning your memo, be sure to
think about it from your reader's perspective: Pretend you are the recipient and
- How is this relevant to me?
- What, specifically, do you want me to do?
- What's in it for me?
Business Memo Format - Heading Segment
Begin the business memo with a heading segment, following this business memo
TO: (readers' names and job titles)
FROM: (your name and job
SUBJECT: (specifically what the memo is
Make sure you address the reader by her or his correct name and job title.
Courtesy titles are not necessary but make sure you spell everyone's names
properly and don't use informal nicknames.
Use a job title after your name, and hand write your initials by your name.
This confirms that you take responsibility for the contents of the memo.
Be specific and concise in your subject line. For example, "computers" could
mean anything from a new purchase of computers to a mandatory software class for
employees. Instead use something like, "Turning Computers off at Night." This
also makes filing and retrieving the memo easy.
Business Memo Format - Opening Segment
Begin writing your business memo by stating the problem--that is, what led to
the need for the memo. Perhaps a shipment has not arrived, a scheduled meeting
has been canceled, or a new employee is starting tomorrow.
After stating the problem, indicate the purpose clearly: Are you announcing a
meeting, welcoming a new employee, or asking for input on adopting a new policy
about lunch hour length?
Business Memo Format - Discussion Segment
As you write the business memo, in the discussion segment, give details
about the problem, Don't ramble on incessantly, but do give enough information
for decision makers to resolve the problem. Describe the task or assignment with
details that support your opening paragraph (problem).
Business Memo Format - Closing Segment
After the reader has absorbed all of your information, close with a courteous
ending that states what action you want your reader to take. Should they hand
email their reports rather than hand in hard copies? Attend a meeting? Chip in
for someone's birthday cake? A simple statement like, "Thank you for rinsing the
coffeepot after pouring the last cup" is polite and clearly states what
action to take.
Traditionally memos aren't signed. However, it is becoming more common for
memos to close the way letters do, with a typed signature under a handwritten
signature. Follow your company's example for this.
Except for memos that are essentially informal reports or instructional
documents, write a business memo no more than one page long. In a memo, less is
Business Memo Format - Summary Segment
If your business memo is longer than a page, you may want to include a
separate summary segment. This part provides a brief statement of the
recommendations you have reached. These will help your reader understand
the key points of the memo immediately.
To further clarify your meaning, keep these business memo formatting ideas in
- Headings help the reader skim for sections of the document.
- Numbered and bulleted lists make information easy to scan. Be careful to
make lists parallel in grammatical form.
- Font sizes, underlining, bolding, and italicizing make headings and
important information stand out.
- As in all technical and business communications, long paragraphs of dense
text make reading more difficult. Therefore, keep your paragraphs short and to
Now that you know how to write a formal memo properly, you can be sure that
your readers will understand your intentions.