How to Write a Memo

Five Parts:Sample MemosWriting the Memo’s HeadingWriting the Body of the MemoFinalizing the MemoUsing Memo Templates

A memo is intended to inform a group of people about a specific issue, such as an event, policy, or resource, and encourages them to take action. The word “memorandum” means something that should be remembered or kept in mind. [1] Here’s a guide to writing readable, effective memos.

Sample Memos

Sample Memo to Customers

Sample Memo to Boss

Sample Memo to Coworkers

Part 1
Writing the Memo’s Heading

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    Type “MEMORANDUM” at the top of the page. State that this document is a memorandum at the outset. Label the page “MEMORANDUM” 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) from the top of the page. Put the word in bold on the first line. You can either center it on this line or left-align it. You might also choose to make the font larger for this word.[2]
    • Double space between this line and the next line of the heading.
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    Address the recipient appropriately. A memo is a formal business communication, and you should address the reader formally as well. Use a full name and title of the person to whom you are sending the memo.[3]
    • If you are sending a memo to the entire staff, you might write: “TO: All Employees.”
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    Add additional recipients in the CC line. The “CC” line indicates who will receive a “Courtesy Copy” of the memo. This is not the person to whom the memo is directed. Rather, this is someone who may need to stay informed about policies or issues that you’re addressing in the memo.
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    Write your name in the “From” line. The heading needs to include who is writing and sending the memo. Your full name and job title go in this line.
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    Include the date. Write the complete date, spelling out the month and including the date and year. For example, write: “DATE: January 5, 2015” or “DATE: 5 January 2015.”
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    Choose a specific phrase for the subject line. The subject line gives the reader an idea of what the memo is about. Be specific but concise.[4]
    • For example, instead of writing, “Ants,” for the subject, be more specific by writing, “Ant Problem in the Office.”
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    Format the heading properly. The heading should be at the top of the page, aligned to the left-hand side of the page. Capitalize the words “TO:”, “FROM:”, “DATE:”, and “SUBJECT:”.
    • A sample heading would look like:
      TO: Name and job title of the recipient
      FROM: Your name and job title
      DATE: Complete date when the memo was written
      SUBJECT: (or RE:) What the memo is about (highlighted in some way)
    • When constructing the heading, be sure to double space between sections and align the text.
    • You may choose to add a line below the heading that goes all the way across the page. This will separate the heading from the body of the memo.

Part 2
Writing the Body of the Memo

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    Consider who the audience should be. In order to get people to read and respond to the memo, it’s important to tailor the tone, length, and level of formality of the memo to the audience who will be reading it. Doing this effectively requires that you have a good idea of who the memo is intended for.
    • Think about your audience’s priorities and concerns are.
    • Try to anticipate any questions your readers might have. Brainstorm some content for the memo, such as examples, evidence, or other information that will persuade them.
    • Considering the audience also allows you to be sensitive to including any information or sentiments that are inappropriate for your readers.
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    Skip a formal salutation. A memo does not begin with a salutation like “Dear Mr. Edwards.” Instead, dive right into your opening segment that introduces the matter you’re discussing in the memo.[5]
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    Introduce the problem or issue in the first paragraph. Briefly give them the context behind the action you wish them to take. This is somewhat like a thesis statement, which introduces the topic and states why it matters. You might also consider the introduction as an abstract, or a summary of the entire memo.[6]
    • As a general guideline, the opening should take up about one paragraph.[7]
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    For example, you might write: “As of July 1, 2015, XYZ Corporation will be implementing new policies regarding health coverage. All employees will receive health coverage and will make a minimum of $15 per hour.”
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    Give context for the issue at hand. Your reader may need some background information about the issue you’re addressing. Give some context, but be brief and only state what is necessary.[8]
    • If it’s relevant, continue your memo by stating why the policy is being implemented. For example, you might write: “The county government voted to require all employees in the county to receive a $15/hour minimum wage.”
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    Support your course of action in the discussion segment. Give a short summary of the actions that will be implemented. Give evidence and logical reasons for the solutions you propose. Start with the most important information, then move to specific or supporting facts. State how the readers will benefit from taking the action you recommend, or be disadvantaged through lack of action.
    • Feel free to include graphics, lists, or charts, especially in longer memos. Just be sure they are truly relevant and persuasive.[9]
    • For longer memos, consider writing short headings that clarify the content of each category. For example, instead of stating "Policies," write "New policies regarding part-time employees." Be specific and brief in every heading so that the basic point of your memo is apparent to the reader right away.
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    Suggest the actions that the reader should take. A memo is a call for action on a particular issue, whether it is an announcement about a new company product, new policies regarding expense reports, or a statement about how the company is addressing a problem. Restate the action that the reader should take in the closing paragraph or sentence.
    • For example, you might write, “All employees must use the new accounting system by June 1, 2015.”
    • This can also include some evidence to back up your recommendations.
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    Close the memo with a positive and warm summary. The memo’s final paragraph should restate the next steps to address the issue at hand. It should also include a warm note that reiterates the solidarity of the organization. [10]
    • You might write, "I will be glad to discuss these recommendations with you later on and follow through on any decisions you make."
    • You might end with something like, “We are excited about the expansion of this product line. We’re confident that this will grow our business and make this company a more sustainable business.”
    • This should generally be one to two sentences in length.

Part 3
Finalizing the Memo

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    Format your memo properly. Use a standard format for your memo to ensure that it is easy to read. Use a 12-point font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Use one-inch margins on the left, right and bottom sides.
    • Use block style paragraphs. Double space between paragraphs. Do not indent each paragraph.
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    Proofread your memo. Review and edit your memo to make sure that it is clear, concise, persuasive, and free of errors. Check that you are consistent in the type of language that you use. Eliminate unnecessary scholarly words or technical jargon.
    • Review for spelling, grammar, and content errors. Pay particular attention to names, dates, or numbers.
    • Check that it is not excessively long, and cut out any extraneous material.
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    Handwrite your initials by your name. A memo does not include a signature line. But you should initial the memo with a pen in the header. Write your initials next to your name. This indicates that you have approved the memo.[11]
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    Use memo letterhead. You may have special letterhead designed for memos, or you might use regular business letterhead.
    • If you are creating a digital document (to use for emailing, for example), you might want to create your own letterhead in a Word document that has your company logo and basic contact information. Use this as your memo template for every memo you send out.
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    Choose your method of delivery. Determine the best way to distribute your memo. You may want to print out hard copies of the memo and distribute it this way. You may also send it via email.
    • If you send your memo via email, you might want to format your email in HTML. Alternately, you can save your memo as a PDF and attach it to your email.

Part 4
Using Memo Templates

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    Search for memo templates. Consider whether you want to use a template instead of writing a memo from scratch. If so, your first course of action should be to search online for some good memo templates. Microsoft Word also has memo templates. Templates generally all share the same basic formatting, but they may use different fonts, sizes and designs.
    • Download the template that best fits your needs.
    • Be sure to read the terms of use before using any templates from a web source.
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    Open your downloaded template on your computer. After you have pressed the download button, the template will automatically download into your computer or may take few steps to start download. It is downloaded as a zip file, so you need to unzip the file and then open it in Microsoft Word.
    • It’s a good idea to use the latest version of Microsoft Word in order to ensure that you will not run into any unforeseen software problems and that the template will operate as it was designed to function. If you are operating on an older version of Microsoft Word, simply update your software before downloading any templates.
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    Set up your header. Keep in mind that everything on the template is changeable. You can customize every part of the memo template to fit your particular needs. For instance, you can add your logo and copyright sign in the header section of the template. Just click on the header section and type in your company’s information.
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    Fill in the fields in the template’s header. Be sure to fill in the "TO" and "FROM" fields, as well as "CC" and "SUBJECT” fields. Use caution when filling these fields to ensure that you have not skipped over any field, leaving some of them blank, or that you have not made an error in typing somewhere along the way.
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    Type your message. Write the introduction, context, discussion and summary parts of your memo in the body. If you want, you can use bullet points or lists to organize information.
    • Maintain the template’s formatting. This will ensure that your paragraph alignment is proper and you have the correct margins and font size.
    • If necessary, you can even customize the memo to use a table. This is sometimes a good idea, especially if using a bullet list or something similar makes the memo look too crowded or difficult to read.
    • Make sure that you have deleted any words that were already in the template. Also, carefully proofread your memo before sending it.
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    Make sure to check the footer. The footer is the space at the bottom of the page that often has additional information. You might include your company information or personal contact information here. It is important that you take the time to ensure that this information is correct. The last thing you want to have happen is to write an excellent memo and then have incorrect contact information or have that information missing altogether.
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    Customize your look. One of the most appealing things about the template is that you can even change the color of the document. This allows you to exercise a certain degree of personality and makes the entire document stand out more precisely. It also allows you to choose a color that is appropriate for the situation at hand in order to ensure that the memo is visually striking, yet professional.
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    Save your memo as a unique document. Be sure to save a copy of this memo. Then you will have a digital back-up document that provides proof of your business communication.
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    Save the template so that you can use it again. Whenever you need to use the memo for a slightly different subject in the future, simply change each field to suit the particular memo subject. This will save you time and will also help you create a consistent memo that is professional and that will get the attention of people so the memo will be read in a prompt manner.


  • Don't give too many whys. It's important to explain why you want something done, but don't overdo it.
  • Memos should be always brief.

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