How to Write a Memo: Templates and Examples

Updated on: 21 January 2024 | 7 min read
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What is a Memo?

A memo, short for memorandum, is a type of written communication used in business or academic settings. Unlike informal emails or verbal announcements, memos are not prone to ambiguity or misunderstanding. They are meant to deliver messages that are direct and to the point, leaving no room for doubt or confusion. Memos can be written for various purposes, such as:

  • Creating a record of key decisions and policies.

  • Communicating a consistent and coherent message to a large audience within the company.

  • Keeping all team members updated and aligned on current projects and progress.

  • Requesting approval or authorization for a decision.

  • Announcing a meeting or an event.

  • Sharing important news or achievements.

Why We Use Memos

Memos are an important part of the internal communication system of any organization. They help to inform and update colleagues on various topics, from policy changes to project updates. Here’s how memos help to communicate clearly and briefly:

  • Brevity: Memos are concise and focused. They only include the most relevant information, making sure that the message is received and acted on quickly and effectively.

  • Authority: The structured format of a memo gives it a sense of authority and formality, which is often needed for official communications within a company.

  • Documentation: Memos create a written record of communication, which can be used for clarification or during audits, making them useful for accountability and historical reference.

Memos are especially useful in situations where email might be too informal or when a permanent record of communication is required. They are suitable for instructions, procedures, and announcements that need attention and retention. In the fast-paced environment that product managers work in, the ability to easily create, customize, and share memos can improve team coordination and project management.

Types of Memos

There are different types of memos depending on the purpose and the audience.

  • Informative memo: This type of memo provides information about a topic, such as a new policy, a change in procedure, or an upcoming event. The goal of an informative memo is to inform the readers and explain the rationale behind the information.
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  • Directive memo: This type of memo gives instructions or directions to the readers, such as how to complete a task, follow a rule, or comply with a requirement. The goal of a directive memo is to persuade the readers and provide clear and specific guidance.
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  • Request memo: This type of memo asks the readers to do something, such as approve a proposal, grant a permission, or provide a resource. The goal of a request memo is to convince the readers and justify the request.
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  • Response memo: This type of memo answers a question, addresses a concern, or provides feedback to the readers, such as responding to an inquiry, resolving an issue, or evaluating a performance. The goal of a response memo is to satisfy the readers and demonstrate competence.
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How to Write a Memo in Five Steps

Regardless of the type, memos should be concise, clear, courteous, and coherent. Memos should also follow a standard format that includes a heading, an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Memos should be written in a professional tone that reflects the relationship between the writer and the reader. Here are some steps to follow when writing a memo:

How to write a memo in five steps

Step 1 - Identify Your Audience and Purpose

Before you start writing, think about who will read your memo and what you want them to do or know. This will help you tailor your tone, language, and content to suit their needs and expectations.

Step 2 - Write a Clear and Concise Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing that the recipients will see, so make it interesting and relevant. It should summarize the main point of your memo and capture the attention of the reader.

Step 3 - Use a Memo Format

Use a standard memo format. A memo typically consists of four parts:

  • Heading: Date, recipients, subject, and reference.

  • Opening: Purpose of the memo in a concise statement.

  • Context: Background information relevant to the message.

  • Closing: Summary and next steps or call to action.

When it comes to design, choose fonts and colors that reflect your organization’s branding for a professional look. A clean, readable font like Arial or Times New Roman is often preferred. For colors, stick to a simple palette that doesn’t distract from the content. Remember, the goal is to communicate effectively, not to showcase design skills.

Step 4 - Write Clearly and Concisely

Use simple, direct, and active language to express your ideas. Avoid jargon, slang, or unnecessary words that may confuse or distract the reader. Use bullet points, lists, headings, and white space to organize your information and make it easy to scan. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and focused.

Step 5 - Proofread and Edit Your Memo

Before you send your memo, check it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors. Make sure your memo is consistent, accurate, and complete. Ask someone else to review your memo if possible and get their feedback.

Tips to Write Professional Memos

  • Organize your content: Use headings, bullet points, and white space to structure your memo and make it easy to scan and understand.

  • Attach relevant documents: If you need to provide additional information or evidence, attach them to your memo and refer to them in the body. Use descriptive file names and labels for your attachments.

  • Follow up: After sending your memo, follow up with your recipients to ensure they have received it and understood it. If you need a response or feedback, set a deadline and remind them politely.

  • Review previous memos: If you are writing a memo on a similar topic or to the same audience as before, review previous memos to ensure consistency and avoid duplication.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Memos

  • Not using appropriate language. Make sure your memo does not include slang, jargon, acronyms, or abbreviations that may confuse or offend the reader.

  • Using an accusatory tone: A memo should use formal, polite, and respectful language that suits the context and the relationship between the sender and the receiver. It should also not use emotional, aggressive, or sarcastic tone that may undermine the credibility or professionalism of the sender.

  • Adding unnecessary details, jargon, and repetition. Use short sentences and paragraphs, and get to the point quickly.

How Creately Helps You to Write a Good Memo

Creately offers real-time collaboration and an infinite canvas, which can simplify the memo creation process, ensuring that the message is not only clear and brief but also visual. With Creately, you can:

  • Choose from a variety of memo templates that suit different purposes and situations

  • Customize your memo with your own logo, colors, fonts, and images

  • Add comments, notes, links, attachments, and icons to enhance your memo

  • Collaborate with your team members in real-time and get their input

  • Store and organize your memo in folders accessible by specific teams or the entire organization

  • Export your memo as a PDF, PNG, or JPEG file and share it with your recipients

Join over thousands of organizations that use Creately to brainstorm, plan, analyze, and execute their projects successfully.

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FAQs About Writing Memos

How long should a memo be?
A memo should be as long as necessary to convey your message clearly and concisely. However, a general rule of thumb is to keep it under two pages.
How formal should a memo be?
A memo should be formal enough to reflect the professionalism of your organization and respect for your recipients. However, you can also use a friendly and conversational tone if appropriate for your purpose and audience.

Author

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Hansani Bandara Content Specialist

Hansani has a background in journalism and marketing communications. She loves reading and writing about tech innovations. She enjoys writing poetry, travelling and photography.

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