“Memo” stands for “memorandum,” which comes from a Latin phrase meaning “it must be remembered.” These short documents serve two purposes – to inform about problems, and help resolve problems. Memos inform the intended audience about policy changes, price increases, or other actionable information that can affect the audience’s performance or actions.
Memos can also inform the audience about events, with the specific intention that the audience will attend. Memos can range from informal emails to complex, formal letters.
Most often, memos can be found in an office setting. In a digital world, most workers write memos in the form of an email, which can be a sentence or two regarding an upcoming informal event, to a long, detailed email describing new policy changes. If a memo is complex enough, offices require that the memo be printed out and a copy given to each department head, or each individual employee, to ensure that everyone is up-to-date on changes to rules, building, or events.
Formal Structure of Memos
Although few people realize, there is a formal structure to a memo. Here are the most basic steps to follow when writing a memo:
- Write “Memorandum” at the top of the page. This informs the audience that they are reading a document with information they must remember.
- Address the recipient(s) directly. Memos are considered formal business communication, which means you have a specific audience to write for. This can be to a department head, an entire department, employees of the company in general, or customers at the business.
- The CC line exists for additional recipients. If there are other people who should know about the communication, their names can be placed in the CC line. This formality in memos is where the CC and BCC lines in an email come from.
- Write your name in the “from” line. This ensures that everyone who receives the memo knows who wrote it, and can send a reply if necessary.
- Include the date. There may be other follow-ups regarding the memo at a later date, and it is important to know which changes or events come first.
- Choose a subject. This helps the audience know what the memo is in regards to. For example, “Policy Changes in the Creative Department.”
- Align everything to the left. Proper indentation makes memos more legible.
- Skip the formal salutation. This is a memo to people who should be familiar with the business departmental policies, so it is not a formal letter, even though it has a formal structure.
- Introduce the problem in the first paragraph. This gives context for the action, change, or event later in the memo.
- Support your course of action. Summarize the actions being taken and why they are important.
- Tell the reader what actions they need to take. If the reader has a responsibility for actions to help solve the problem in the memo, tell them.
- Close with a summary and a signature. This is more formal, but let the reader know they can contact you with questions regarding the memo, then sign off.
Why Should I Download a Memo Template?
Our free downloadable memo template can help you keep track of all of this information. You can use the template either in an email or as a printable document. Help your employees or customers stay informed about changes and events with these easy-to-follow memo templates.