What Is a Memo?
The word “memo” is the short form of the word “memorandum”. A memo can also be referred to as a reminder. However, it is used for other purposes. Memos are used in corporate affairs for internal communications—sending messages within an organization. Standard memo formats are used in many organizations.
What is a memo used for? You can send it to many employees (a group, or department, or the entire workforce) at once. For example, as an employer or manager, you might need to write a memo in order to remind your employees about an upcoming event or inform them about new company policies. As an employee, you may want to seek approval before taking action.
How to Write a Memo?
The next step would be to learn how to write a memo. This will be followed by memo format examples. As a business owner, you should know how to write a memorandum. Writing a memo is as easy as writing an email.
As the saying goes: practice makes perfect. So, if you keep practicing how to write a memo, you will get to a point where you would not need to write one while looking at a sample memo. Follow the steps below:
- Introductory paragraph
- Second paragraph
- Third paragraph
A memorandum has to be labeled. You will simply use the word “Memorandum” so that the reader will know what he or she is reading at first glance. Check the following:
The “To” will have the title, name, and/or initials of the recipient. Remember that you may be targeting many people at once. You may decide to use words that are appropriate for such situations such as phrases like “to all employees”, “to the production team”, etc.
“From” will have the title, name, and/or initials of the sender. The date will follow the standard format for your country. Finally, the subject will have the topic of the memo in one short line as it is for emails.
2. Introductory Paragraph
You will want to be brief, clear, and direct while writing this paragraph. Leave the details for the next paragraph. The first paragraph should be used to state the purpose of the memo. Examples of phrases that you can use to start the first sentence are given below:
- I am writing to inform you about . . .
- I’m writing to request for a . . .
- I am writing to remind you all about . . .
3. Second Paragraph
As stated earlier, the writing of paragraph two will involve elaborating on the purpose that was stated in paragraph one. Your aim is to explain with contextualization and facts.
For example, if your memo is talking about a mandatory training program, you can say something like this: “Since the company has been able to take a huge step further in improving productivity by procuring the latest desktop computers, it is only right that employees undergo training in order to . . . “
4. Third Paragraph
Your memo may end in the second paragraph, or it may have a third. For paragraph three, you may want to include a request, appreciative expression (e.g. “Thanks . . .”, “Thank you for . . . “, “I appreciate . . .”, and so on), call-to-action (CTA)/RSVP, etc. The bottom line is that it should be brief.
Now that you have learnt how to write a memo, it is only right that you see some memorandum format examples to aid you in practicing drafts. Below is an example of a standard business memo format that employers can use.
Introductory Paragraph: [For a business memo format, make sure the introduction is straightforward]
Second Paragraph: [Give the details in a clear and concise language that can easily be understood by the reader.]
Conclusive Paragraph: [In following the business memo format, the closing should be brief]
Not to worry, apart from the above memorandum format, 3 memo examples will also be provided for better understanding. They will be given in relation to various scenarios that would require you to know how to write a memo. After all, what is a memo if it is not written in the right format? You may end up writing something that looks more like an email instead.
In using the right memorandum format, it is important that you check a sample memo for guidance. You may find one of the following memorandum format examples useful in the future:
Memorandum Example 1
Note: This is a business memo example about information being passed to the entire workforce.
To: All employees
From: Mrs. A. M. Smith, CEO
Date: September 9, 2020
Subject: Scheduled Seminar in the Conference Hall
You are all aware of the previously announced seminar on “Conflict Resolution in the Workplace” that will be coming up on September 10 (tomorrow by 9am). It was expected that this program would be of great benefit to our company in terms of improved working relationships.
It is mandatory for all employees to be present at this event in order to benefit from it as a number of seasoned speakers will be gracing the occasion. We hope that this seminar will make a significant impact on everyone and strengthen cooperativeness in the company.
Memorandum Example 2
Note: This is a business memo example of a message that is being passed within a department.
To: All employees in the sales department
From: Joe Smith, Head of Sales
Date: September 9, 2020
Subject: Sales Report Deadline for the Quarter
I am writing to inform the department about the stipulated deadline for the submission of the quarterly sales report (July to September). Before moving on to the details, I would like to commend the sales team for their increased efforts at meeting and surpassing the sales quota for this month.
The due date for the submission of this quarter’s sales report will be on October 2. All hands should be on deck for the speedy drafting of the report, except Mr. Cohen and Miss Simmons who have been tasked with the planning of our annual Super September Sales event.
Thanks for your dedication to achieving excellent results. We hope to exceed our expectations before the end of the month. Good luck everyone!
Memorandum Example 3
Note: This is a business memo example of a message that is written as a request by an employee based on the directive of a top level manager.
To: Mrs. A. M. Smith
From: Joe Smith, Head of Sales
Date: September 9, 2020
Subject: Attendance at Leadership Style Seminar
As I mentioned to you last month, there is a free leadership style seminar that will be conducted by Michael R. Bloomberg KBE—a former mayor of New York City. The event will be taking place on September 20 at Columbia University, New York.
A leadership style seminar will help me perform my duties as the Head of Sales better, considering the fact that we are about to work with new additions to our team and implement new strategies. The attached newspaper cut-out gives more information about the event.
In view of the fact that the event is valuable to me as a departmental head, coupled with its proximity to the company’s location and very low expenses involved (transportation only), I would like to be given the approval to be at the event. I hope to hear from you before the end of this week so that I can make adequate preparations for my absence from work on that day.
Thanks for your understanding.
Frequently Asked Questions about Memo Format
There are some questions that may come to mind in learning how to write a memorandum. You may have pondered about them while checking a sample memo from the above examples. It is now time to answer some of those questions for the sake of clarity. Answers will be given for 5 possible questions.
- How many memo types are there?
- Are memos formal or informal?
- How long should a memo be?
- Do memos contain signatures?
- What is the line spacing required for writing memos?
How Many Memo Types are there?
There are 5 memo types. See them below:
- Confirmation memo
- Informal study results memo
- Periodic report memo
- Request memo
- Suggestive memo
1. Confirmation Memo
As the name implies, it is used to give confirmation about an earlier information or discussion. For example, a departmental head can tell his team that he wants to seek clarification from top level management based on a course of actions that the department wants to take in the future. He can reach out after two days to tell them that they have been given the go-ahead.
2. Informal Study Results Memo
This is written when personnel is asked to provide the results of an informal study that was conducted within the organization. The aim is to make the report easy to understand in written form. For example, the results of a focus group discussion.
3. Periodic Report Memo
This is a type of report memo just like the informal study results memo. As the name implies, they are written periodically (monthly or quarterly), making it easy to use a normal previously printed template for quick drafting. For example; sales reports cost control reports, etc.
4. Request Memo
A request memo is written in order to make sick approval in the hope of it getting granted. The language will therefore have to be persuasive. Your points have to be convincing enough. For example, you may be asked to write a memo when seeking permission from the head of your department to attend a seminar taking place outside the workplace on a business day.
5. Suggestive Memo
This is also known as ideas and suggestion memo. Simply put, it is used to communicate suggestions or ideas to a target audience in the organization. For example, some managers might ask their team to give their individual opinions during the process of making a decision.
Are Memos Formal or Informal?
Since all memos are used for internal communications, it is only right to say that they are formal. You can think of them as semi-formal when considering the tone of your writing.
How Long Should a Memo Be?
Your ideal memorandum length should be based on putting everything on a page. The length of each paragraph should be between two to seven lines. Request memos may have shorter sentences with a lesser number of words.
Do Memos Contain Signatures?
This is really left to you. You can decide whether or not to append a signature to the text. It is rare to find this feature in most memos. You can opt to state your name or initials in the header only.
What Is the Line Spacing Required for Writing Memos?
First, keep in mind that the paragraphs in a memo do not have indentations. Now, when it comes to line spacing, understand that the ones within a paragraph are single-spaced. You can use double-spacing to separate paragraphs. This also applies to the space between the first paragraph and the heading.
If you want to learn a brief about writing a memo, you can watch this YouTube video:
You can see that it is easy to learn how to write a memorandum, just as it is easy to learn how to draft a follow-up email that you want to send to your customers. Hopefully, you will find the memo examples given in this guide useful in drafting one.
As an employer or manager, you should make use of this form of internal communications more. In a study, it was gathered that over 70% of employees feel that they are not well-informed about what goes on in the company. When there is poor internal communication, it may give rise to a conflict that could have been easily avoided. A simple act such as writing a memo (and disseminating it) can go a long way in keeping employees up to date.