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How to Write a Memo to Respond to a Situation

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It would be nice to think that we can get through each day at work without disagreement or discord. However, the nature of business is just that--a lot of business with people, places and things to manage. Whether it's a subordinate, supervisor, colleague or customer, sometimes we have to make more formal assertions by officially responding to a situation in a memo.

Gather all the information required to fully understand the situation. You may need to talk to the people involved to gather additional feedback.

Write some brief notes about what happened, who was involved and the current status of the situation.

Write a memo that includes the following sections: (1) "To:" - as it suggests, indicate each person that the memo is directed to. (2) "From:" - indicate who the author is; it may or may not be you. (3) "Date": This should be the date the memo is drafted not the date of the incident. (4) 'Re:"or "Subject:" - This should be a brief description of the incident and what the memo is about (i.e. Customer Complaint on February 21, 2009).

First describe the situation at hand. Use concise language in complete sentences. The description should describe how the situation has transpired up to the current time.

If the situation has been resolved, describe how, and who was involved. If warranted, give your opinion about whether or not you believe the resolution was appropriate and why. If the situation has not been resolved, give your recommendation on how the situation can be (or will be) handled and how.

Review the memo for accuracy, formatting consistency, spelling and grammar. If the memo should be approved by someone else, have him or her review before distributing. Once it has been approved, you and any other reviewers should initial next to your typed initials in the heading of the memo.


If there are people who should receive a copy of the memo as an "FYI", add a heading called "Cc:" and list their names. For instance, the additional reviewer can be listed here.

Try to keep the memo down to one page. Use concise paragraphs and only include information that is necessary to understanding the situation.


If the memo contains confidential information, identify it as "Confidential" by typing the word at the top of the memo, on each page.