Common Components and Tips (2023)


Before the computer age, written memos were the de facto method of communication in the workplace. Whenever an announcement needed to be sent to a large number of employees, a note was written on a piece of paper, duplicated, and sent to a physical inbox (a tray on your desk or a mailbox).

Businesses still communicate by memo today, but email has made the process paperless. Anytime you use email to send company updates to multiple employees, write a memo.

What is a memo?

A memo or memorandum is a written message used to convey important information to a group of people in a workplace. Businesses use memos to announce everything from small events in the office, like informing employees that the coffee maker broke, to important company news, like announcing the hiring of a new CEO. Memos keep employees on the same page and help foster a culture of transparency by sharing information with everyone in the workplace.

A memo is usually concise — about three to four paragraphs — and written in plain language. It is designed to be easily digestible. The main goal of the memo is to pass on information – this communication is only effective if employees read it.

elements of a memo

A memo can contain many announcements, but all clear memos follow a standard memo format with the following elements:

  • Headline. Memo headings consist of the sender, the recipient, a subject line and the date. Modern memos that are sent via email have many of these components already built in. For clarity, you can include an introductory phrase (usually in parentheses and capital letters) in the email subject line to make it clear that an emailed memo is not a regular email. For example, you could write the subject line: “(ALL OFFICE) A change to our dog-friendly office policy.”
  • Introduction. An introductory paragraph highlights important information. It should explain the purpose of the memo and clarify why employees should read it. In the case of an office policy change, you might write, “We have decided to change our dog-friendly office policy to clarify that we no longer allow dogs on the second floor.”
  • Body. The body of the memo should provide context for the information provided in the introduction. If the introduction outlines a new company policy, the body of the memo may detail the factors that influenced your decision-making. The author of the dog policy memo could use this section to explain that employees have expressed concerns about noise – particularly barking – in the office and therefore there needs to be a section that is completely dog-free.
  • action items. A memo should clearly set out any action or change in behavior that employees should take. Use bullet points or bold text so action items are visible to anyone skimming the email copy. For example, you could summarize the dog policy changes and format them like this:

To ensure our office remains a productive environment for all employees, please follow these protocols when bringing your dog into the office:

    • Keep your dog on a leash.
    • Do not allow dogs to drink from the office water fountains.
    • Do not visit the second floor with your dog.
  • De-register. A memo ends with a brief goodbye that includes your name and provides a resource for any follow-up questions. This allows potential staff concerns to be anticipated and addressed. For example, you can reassure the team that dog treats are still available in the office kitchen.

How to write a memo in 5 steps

  1. Decide what you want to say
  2. Determine your target group
  3. Write a clear and concise draft
  4. Proofread it or have a colleague complete it
  5. Submit it and answer all the questions

Follow these steps to learn the art of writing business memos effectively.

1. Decide what you want to say

The purpose of the memo includes what you need to share, why your employees need to know, and how this information might affect them. Reasons you might consider writing a memo include: announcing a new hire, launching a new product line, or addressing a policy change.

2. Determine your target audience

Who needs to know about this? If the memo is about office procedures or a policy update that affects everyone, it should probably be addressed to the entire company. When it comes to a marketing budget change, it should only go to the marketing team. By limiting unnecessary communication, readership is increased – employees will understand that every memo they receive contains information relevant to them.

3. Write a clear and concise draft

The memo should conform to the standard memo format. The first paragraph should contain a brief introduction, a main paragraph, and an ending. Remember that your main goal is to get people to read what you have written. Therefore, keep the memo short and include only essential information to minimize the number of people skimming the memo.

Memos are aimed at a wide audience. Therefore, make sure to use understandable texts. For example, instead of “Avoid obfuscation by avoiding obscure business terms,” ​​you could say, “Use clear, simple language.” When writing a draft, try to anticipate any questions or concerns employees may have, and address them in the memo .

4. Proofread or have a colleague do it

Memos should be easy to read and free from typos. Proofread your memo and use spell checking software like Grammarly or the native spell checker of Google Docs or Microsoft Word before finalizing it. If the memo contains sensitive or complicated information, such as announcing budget cuts, it’s a good idea to ask additional eyes to check the memo for accuracy and tonality.

5. Submit it and answer all the questions

Once you’ve double-checked it, send your memo and be prepared to answer any questions employees may have about it. When you announce a big change, employees may have follow-up questions — announcing budget cuts can raise questions about business performance or finances. Maintain good communication by taking time to address comments or concerns. If the information is confidential, contact the Legal Department or Human Resources for advice on how to answer difficult questions.

6 tips for writing memos

  1. Note that anything that is put in writing can be shared publicly
  2. Make it accessible
  3. hold on short
  4. Write a strong headline
  5. Involve relevant team members
  6. Use a consistent memo format

Effective business memos are clear, concise, and professional. Try these six tips to ensure your internal communications are read and your employees are informed.

1. Be aware that anything that is put in writing can be shared publicly

Updating your employees keeps them informed and feels included, but also creates a written record of your business events. Anything that is communicated in writing can be disseminated publicly and may even end up on the front page of a newspaper. Keep this in mind and pay special attention to how you write your memo and how much is disclosed when sharing confidential information, such as an update on a product that has not yet been launched or a negative progress report from the company.

2. Make it accessible

Avoid formal language or technical terms (including financial and marketing acronyms such as EBITDA or TAM) that some employees may not be familiar with. Because memos reach a wide audience, they should be easy to understand for anyone who receives them.

3. Be brief

Brevity is the soul of wit — and of memo writing, too. Keep your memo short to increase the likelihood that employees will read it in full.

4. Write a strong headline

Grab your readers’ immediate attention with a concise headline that emphasizes the importance of the memo.

5. Involve relevant team members

Only involve team members who are directly affected by the content of the memo.

6. Use a consistent memo format

Using the same format for every memo you send but changing the subject line and message helps employees distinguish memos from regular email. Consider creating a default memo template in your email or word processor and use it each time you write a new memo.

Frequently asked questions about sharing memos

What is the difference between a memo and an email?

Most memos are sent via email, but most emails are not memos. A memo is a written communication about the company designed to inform employees. In modern offices, memos are typically distributed via email, and as such are a subset of this larger communication category. Email, on the other hand, refers to any electronic mail that is sent or received on a computer.

Does a memo require a signature?

No. The memo should include your contact information and the contact information of all other relevant parties, but a formal signature is not required.

Do memos need sources?

Think of your memo as the primary document. You don’t have to cite sources, but you can link to relevant information if it would help your employees better understand the issue.

How can I make sure people read my memo?

You can increase the likelihood that others will read your memos by writing clear, short memos. The headline should grab the reader’s attention and highlight why the memo is important. The body of the memo should be concise, short paragraphs and in everyday language.

Should memos be written in a formal way?

A good memo should strike a balance between sounding formal and relatable. Although memos are official business communications written in a professional tone that conveys respect, they should also be easy to read. Writing too formally can complicate the topic and lose readers.


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