Business Memo Guideline, Format, and Characteristics
What is a Business Memo? Is it Different from a Letter?
A business memo is a brief and a less formal letter used to update colleagues or clients within an organization. Most importantly, a business memo is meant to identify a problem and propose a solution. Technically, business memos are targeted for readers with different purposes: those who want to skim through quickly looking for certain key points as well as those who are paying attention to details that support key recommendations or claims. Therefore, to determine the structure, content, and style of your memo, it is important to decide on the kind of information that the audience will be looking for. Moreover, memos are typically meant to make announcements, publicize employees’ information, report on a company’s activities, or discuss procedures. Unlike business letters, memos are not confidential. You can keep in mind the following tips when writing a business memo.
- The subject line should be direct and informative. When the reader picks a memo, the first thing to look at is the subject line. Therefore, this line should inform the reader exactly what they expect to find in the rest of the memo.
- Use First person, Active voice. Memos are written using conversational, informal and friendly style; thus, use of words such as “I,” “you,” and “we” is acceptable. However, remember memo is a professional document and should not sound too casual. Also, memos are meant to get someone take some action, so it is advisable to use active as opposed to passive voice.
- Do Not Use Fuzz Words. The reader of a memo has no time to read between the lines, so it is annoying to use complicated words and jargon. Only use such words when they will help keep the memo brief. You can also avoid wordiness by cutting down adjectives and adverbs, eliminating redundant words, avoiding passive voice, and shunning unnecessary prepositions.
- Avoid very long paragraphs. A paragraph should have approximately five lines. If the paragraph is too long, the reader tends to lose focus of the document.
Sample Memo Layout with Rules, Suggestions, and Instructions
Memos should be started by briefly stating the purpose of writing. Typically, the purpose is a summary of the problem. A sample of a good business memo’s opening is as follows:
- The school will be open the day after the Easter holiday
- Because of the New Year holidays, the billing department will remain closed from 31st December 2018 till 3rd January 2019.
- Because of the damage caused by the earth tremor, the administration bloc will be sealed off till proper maintenance is carried out.
You can download more business memo format samples on this website.
The following is an example of how to start a memo. Keep in mind that the information after the colon should be aligned with each other using the keyboard’s tab.
TO: The list of the recipient(s)
FROM: Originator + your signoff initials
DATE: Date Written in full CC: A list of those to receive copies
SUBJECT: How to Write a Business Memo Letter
<Body of your memo>
A list of attachments if any
Although today email is used to convey most of the information in an organization, email memorandum format and style should be the same as the regular internal memorandum format. That is, the memo should be formatted correctly in the body of the email. However, if you want to convey detailed information, it is better to send a properly formatted memo as an attachment.
How to Format a Memo
- Use black color and a professional format, such as Times New Romans
- Memos are written on a plain paper with a one-inch margin
- The body should be single-spaced, and double space between paragraphs
- The word “MEMORANDUM” should be typed at the top of the page. Also, bold and center this word.
- Do not use the formal salutation such as “Dear Madam.”
- A memo is a call for action of a particular issue, so you should recommend the actions that the audience should take in the last paragraph or sentence. The actions can include some evidence to support your suggestions
- The memo should close with a warm and positive summary of the steps to address the problems as well as a warm note, such as: “We are excited about the commitment of the sales team. We hope this will help the company achieve its growth objectives.”
If the recipients of your memo are employees, here is a good business memo template as well as writing business memorandum guidelines
The Do’s and Don’ts in Business Memo Writing Assignment
When you write your memo, you can keep the following rules in mind.
- Do not use emotional language. Also, keep off colloquial language and slang words – keep it formal.
- Proofread. Once you are done writing, make sure you review your memo two to three times to typos and grammar errors. If you do not have time to proofread, you can hire online writing companies that offer proofreading services.
- Use concise language. Avoid being too wordy.
- Use bullets. To make your memo easy to read and understand, you can break different issues in the body using bullet points.
- Be creative.
The Bottom-Line For Business Communication Memo Writing
- Memos should be short and brief.
- The subject line should be short and descriptive: it should tell the reader what the memo will be about.
- Be specific and avoid fluff words.
- A memo should cover a single subject.
- Clarify points using numbers and bullets.
- Avoid vague or confusing headings. Use precise terms that readers will easily understand. Capitalize the first word and all main words.
- Message: keep it focused and on the subject. Do not mix two or more unrelated topics in the same memo.