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How to Write Memorandums

A memorandum, or memo, is a document used to communicate within an organization. This type of document usually communicates problems or notices to organization members, persuades others to take action, or asks for feedback. Memos are necessarily short and concise and follow a specific format. Almost every professional field uses memos to communicate; learning how to write one is often important for professional success.

Jot down the general idea of your memo and your intended audience before writing the actual document. Audience consideration is very important when writing memos. For example, if an issue only involves a small group of people, do not address the memo to the entire organization. Consider the language appropriate for the audience at large. You may want to communicate a message differently to superiors than subordinates.

Fill out your header section. All memos should have the same sections. First, the “To” section will contain the name of the receivers. For example, “To: John Smith” or “To: Smith Co. Staff” would work in a “To:” line. Under the “To:” line, fill in a “From:” line with your name in it. Directly underneath the “From:” line include a “Date:” section with the date the memo is written. Months are often abbreviated; February becomes “Feb.” Lastly, include a “Subject:” line with a specific title that will indicate what the memo is about.

Write your message next; aim for no more than a page. Your first sentence should clearly state the purpose and context of the memo. Next, if appropriate, explain the background of the event, situation or circumstance of the subject of the memo briefly. Following, explain exactly what you want or expect from those receiving the memo. If your memo is necessarily longer than a page, you may want to include a brief summary paragraph at the end of the message for clarity purposes.

Close with a polite ending. Make sure to thank the recipients for their time in reading the memo and invite discussion or comments about the content of the memo itself.

Include an “Attached:” line after the closing if you need to enclose additional documents with the memo. Briefly state the title of the attachments in this line such as “Attached: Resume.”

Review your memo to cut out any information that is superfluous and simplify wordy sentences. The goal of the memo is briefness.

Check over your memo for spelling and grammar issues. Memos usually are considered to be professional documents. Careless mistakes and inattention to grammar could reflect poorly on the writer.