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What Is a Memo?

what-is-a-memo

Memo is short for Memorandum, which is defined as a, usually brief, written communication that contains instructions or information for internal circulation. It can be as simple as a short list of chores to be done or several pages of notes from a business meeting. A memo can be addressed to a single person or sent out to all members of a committee, department, or organization.

The Purpose of a Memo

The memo is focused on one subject or even one factor of a subject. A private memo, such as a honey-do list may be discarded once the chores have been completed, but business memos are usually filed as a record of daily activities within the company. They may be referred to as historical documentation when writing reports or resolving conflicts.

Format

Some companies have official forms to be used for memos with the company logo imprinted and the required information fields designated. If such a form is not available, there are many places where templates can be downloaded for a minimal fee or even for free. However, the memo format is very simple and a professional looking memo can easily be prepared without the need of such formal layouts.

A basic memo requires only three components:
The Title

The word Memo or Memorandum, usually centered and in uppercase letters, using a large font size in a bold style.
The Heading

The heading should be in a block style aligned with the left margin and contains four fields: To, From, Date, and Subject
The Body

The body of the memo should be well organized and concise. It should get immediately to the point and deliver the required information in plain language and short sentences. Each paragraph should address one element and contain no more than four or five sentences.

The components should be separated by two blank lines each.

Additional Reference Points

Some companies or situations may call for particular handling of certain reference material:

Enclosures

Listed two lines below the body with a heading of Enclosure: or Enc: and followed the title of the enclosure. If more than one enclosure is required, the total number may replace the title (5).
Initials

The initials of the writer are usually in all capital letters (AMG). If the memo is dictated or typed by an assistant, their initials should also be included in lower case (AMG:ano)

 

Resources

Engineering Computing Facility
Handbook: Memo
http://www.ecf.utoronto.ca

NYU Wagner
Memorandum
wagner.nyu.edu/

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

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