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Business Memo Format

The ability to write a memo in a business format is a necessary skill in educational as well as business pursuits . A memo is the internal version of a business letter. An effective memo is goal oriented, concisely written, well organized and focused on only one topic. Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation are as important in memos as they are in any formal communication. The writer should use formal business language, avoiding contractions and slang.business-memo-format

Style

Keep paragraphs to no more than five or six short sentences. Use an easy to read font such as Times New Roman or Arial in a 10 or 12 point size. In general, the use of ALL CAPITAL LETTERS or multiple !!! exclamation points is considered the equivalent of screaming at your audience and can cause them to react negatively.

Heading

The standard heading is as follows:

To:
name and title of recipient

From:
name and title of author

Date:
month, day date, and year

Subject:
A brief statement that gives a clear idea of the information in the memo.

Some companies have a standardized form that must be used with the word Memo or Memorandum and the company logo imprinted on it.

Opening

The opening paragraph of the memo should include the purpose of the memo, the context and problem, and the specifics of the needed actions. The introduction should be a brief paragraph to help clarify the reason for the document.

Background

Give some context to the problem or event the memo is addressing. Sometimes this may be only one sentence or an introductory phrase such as, “At the Monday night meeting of the building committee, it was decided…

Discussion

The essential information of the memo should be well organized and concise. It should include the details of the problem and any proposed solutions. Start with general information and move to specific details. Include all forms of evidence to back up any conclusions and recommendations. If the body is more than two or three paragraphs, use headings to capture the key idea of each section.

Closing

The closing paragraph of the memo should make it clear to the readers what action needs to be taken based on the information that has been presented and contact information for any necessary follow up. Although most memos are not signed, the initials of the author may be required.

Resources

 

Harvard Business Essentials
Business Communication
New York: Harvard Business School Press, Print.

 

Welcome to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab
Memo Writing
http://owl.english.purdue.edu

 

Guffey, Mary Ellen
Essentials of Business Communication
Cincinnati: South Western Educational Publishing, 2009. Print.