A memorandum or “memo” is a written message used for internal communication in a business organization. Businesses often use it to update employees and internal stakeholders about company policies, procedures, projects, events and team activities. It is important to understand the correct memo format to convey your message professionally. In this article, we present some memo formats and samples with tips on writing a professional memo.
Related: Memos: Definitions and Examples
How to choose a memo format
There are different types of memos, such as information request, confirmation, periodic report, suggestion and study results memos.
The objective or the purpose of the message will differ based upon the type of memo you are writing. For example, you may write an informational memo to share information with employees while a request memo needs to be more convincing. You may want a study results memo to maintain a neutral tone but a report memo may include relevant data and tables.
While all types of memos follow a similar format, there might be some differences in the body of the message. For example, you may write the main message as plain text or include rows, columns or tables if you need to include a set of data.
Sections of a memo
Unlike a formal business letter, a memo does not include a salutation or the sender’s signature. A memo format typically includes the following sections:
The heading section includes the name and address of the company, which is already printed in case of a letterhead. Just below the address section or the letterhead, the word ”Memo” or ”Memorandum” appears to make it clear that the message is being communicated through a memo.
This section identifies the recipients. For example, if you are writing a memo to all the employees of the marketing department, it should say ”To: All Employees of the Marketing Department.”
This section specifies the name, designation and department of the person writing the memo. For example, ”From: T. Jones, Assistant Manager, Sales.”
CC or additional recipients
These are the recipients whom you do not directly address in the To section but to whom you send a copy of the memo for the sake of information.
All memos must invariably include the date of writing the memo.
The subject line gives the recipients a quick idea about the content of the memo. It should be brief and precise. For example, ”Subject: Training session for employees of the SEO department.”
This section states the message in one, two or three short paragraphs. The body should first state the purpose of writing the memo, then move on to the message. If the content of this section is long, you may also want to include a summary of the message. The message should conclude with a clear call-to-action, i.e., what action the recipients are expected to take.
Some memos such as those related to research, presentation or results may require additional data in the form of an attachment to substantiate the memo’s message.
Here is a format you can use to create business memos:
To: [Include recipients' name]
From: [Include your name and title]
Date: [Month, day, year]
Subject: [Subject of the memo]
[A memo requires no salutation]
Body of the memo
[Start with a direct and brief introduction that states the reason for writing the memo.]
[Provide concise but detailed information to the reader.]
[End with a clear closing and a call-to-action.]
Here are five examples of business memos for different scenarios:
*To: All employees in the procurement department*
*From: Barry Buttonwood, Assistant Manager, Staff Training and Development*
*Date: August 22, 2020*
*Subject: Mandatory training for new software*
You are all aware of the company's recent adoption of a new supply chain management software. The company invested in the new application to improve communication with our vendors, enhance order tracking and reduce delays to the barest minimum to save cost and boost efficiency.
We will hold a training workshop to familiarize department staff with the new software on August 25, 2018. We hope this training will allow everyone to make a smooth transition to the new application. All departmental staff must attend the training event.
*To: All employees*
*From: Bridget Paul, VP, Production Department*
*Subject: Periodic Factory Maintenance*
*Date: September 21, 2020*
I'm writing to inform you that the next periodic factory maintenance will start on September 27, 2017, and last for the next three weeks.
As we continue to create new products and increase our production volume, we feel it is necessary to keep our facilities in the best conditions to ensure conducive working conditions for our staff, meet customer expectations and hit our revenue targets.
During the periodic maintenance, we will shut down one factory each week and increase the shifts at the two operational facilities to meet our production quotas. We have made adequate arrangements for overtime bonuses and already discussed with heads of departments and team leaders on ways to maintain staff efficiency and productivity within the period of maintenance.
If you have concerns or questions regarding the scheduled factory maintenance, kindly contact the human resources department. Meanwhile, we are sorry for any inconvenience that may result from this operation.
Thank you for your cooperation.
*To: All staff*
*From: Leila Smith, General Manager*
*Date: February 18, 2021*
*Subject: Recurring data security issues*
It has come to my attention that the company has experienced a series of data breaches in the last two weeks because of the recent change in our firewall security system. I know some of you have lost files on your workstations and there has been at least an accidental leak of sensitive company information. We are taking steps to address the issue to prevent further data security lapses.
In the meantime, we are switching to a temporary data management system until our engineers and external consultants can fix the problem. We welcome comments and suggestions on how to solve this problem so we can get back to delivering results for our customers.
Thanks for your understanding.
*To: All staff*
*From: Jayden Hardy, Marketing Manager*
*Date: October 12, 2020*
*Subject: Natasha's wedding*
I am writing to inform you of Natasha Audrey's wedding that is coming up in the next two weeks. She would like every member of the department to be present on the joyous occasion.
The wedding will be held at the Chapel of Light Church, Dawson Boulevard, Chicago, on Saturday, November 1, 2020. Reception is at the Emerald Events Center at 2 p.m.
The company will provide a cocktail table with candy floss, drinks and snacks. RSVP to Anthony by Thursday, October 30 and please include dietary instructions in your RSVP.
*To: Fintech sales team*
*From: Janet Underwood, Head of Sales*
*Date: May 20, 2021*
*Subject: Sales quota achievement*
I am writing to congratulate you on the commendable efforts and energy you put into delivering on your team's sales quota for the last quarter.
Your team showed exemplary product knowledge, customer service, negotiation skills and collaboration that is worth emulating by other teams and departments in the company.
Thanks for your dedication and commitment to excellence. We will send your bonus checks and letters of commendation by the end of the week.
Congratulations on this achievement!
Tips for writing effective business memos
Writing business memos require proper formatting, professional tone and attention to detail. Here are some tips for writing a business memo:
Make your subject line as specific as possible. For example, if you announcing a holiday, consider including the name in the subject line. For example, the subject line of a memo announcing Thanksgiving holiday schedules should read ”Thanksgiving holidays” instead of a generic phrase like ”Regarding holidays.”
Organize the memo into paragraphs with the important information first. You may use double spacing between paragraphs. Do not indent paragraphs. If needed, you may include a bulleted points section in the main message. Keep the style minimalistic to avoid distraction. Use bold, italic and all caps only where necessary. A memo does not require a signature but you can add ”From:” in the header.
Your tone depends on the purpose of the memo. Since memos are mostly used for internal communication, you can keep the tone friendly, yet professional. Maintain objectivity and ensure that the memo is free from personal bias. Note that memos often relate to company policies and procedures and can have legal standing.
A memo should be clear and precise. Depending on the message, one or two short paragraphs are usually enough. However, if you need to write a longer message, keep the memo’s length to one page.
Always keep your audience in mind while writing a memo. All recipients should understand it without any difficulty. Spell out acronyms and abbreviations and explain technical terms if needed.
You can send a memo through email or on paper. If you are writing or printing a memo on paper, use your company letterhead. If using plain paper, consider A4 or letter-sized paper and print the company name and address in the heading.
Ensure that the memo is suitable for your purpose. You can use it as an effective management tool, e.g., to nullify a rumor or remarks about the company or its management. When it comes to giving someone feedback or suggestions, a private chat is more appropriate than a memo.
Here is a template that you can download for your convenience.