Memo Writing

Memo Writing

Memo writing is another type of challenge when you consider business writing, much like both the letter and the email. 

First of all, when do you write a memo?  And how does it differ from the letter?

The memo is an inter-department communication within a company.  It is a document written from someone within the company to another within the same company.  There may be a special form that is used, and you may prepare a hard copy of the message.  If you prepare it on your computer, it is likely that you would prepare it in a format ready for printing in hard copy.

The letter, on the other hand, is meant to be delivered outside of the company.  It can be a communication

  • from one company to another (business letter)
  • from one individual to a company (personal business letter)
  • from the company to an individual (business letter)

Letter.  First of all, the letter should be one full page – typically three paragraphs:

  • Short opening that introduces the topic and adds another statement –request for action or a goodwill comment
  • Middle paragraph(s) that are short and provide the details
  • Short closing that begins with a direct request for action and adds a goodwill comment that highlights benefits to your reader

The letter is generally longer than the memo.  The memo should be short and direct.

Memo.  The memo is a somewhat similar format – but with some specific differences.

The top of the memo provides

  • A main title
  • TO:  The name of the person TO whom the memo is addressed
  • FROM:  The name of the person FROM whom the memo is written
  • DATE:  The DATE, and

Those four pieces of information should be very clear, easy to read, and professionally presented at the top of the document. 

Your own memo format.  If you are creating your own memo format from scratch, follow the instructions below:

  • Place the main title (in solid capitals – MEMORANDUM) about 1 ½ inches from the top of the page.  
  • Double space the information lines so that the document is a very easy-to-read format.  
  • Use the TAB key to align the information so that it’s clear.


Memo writing

Formatting points to note if you create the memo from scratch

  • Place the main title in solid capitals about 1 1/2 inches from the page top. (Line 10)
  • Leave 2 blank lines after the main title. 
  • Leave 2 blank lines before the main body of the memo.
  • Use Times New Roman 12-point font.

The main body of the memo should take the same format as the letter:

  • The short opening paragraph that tells the purpose and leads into the main body
  • The short middle paragraph(s) with the details
  • The short closing which begins with a direct request for action and adds a goodwill comment that highlights benefits to the reader

There is no signature at the end of the memo.  That is one difference from the format of the letter. 

If the memo is typed/prepared by someone other than the author, then it would, of course, be returned to the author for a final proofreading.  If satisfied, the author would add his initial (handwritten) after his name at the top of the memo.

In the graphic below, note the initials after the sender's name indicating that the memo has been approved for sending.

  • Keep the memo short.
  • Keep the memo to one topic only.
  • Write in active voice.
  • Use a bulleted list to highlight short and important points.

With this format, your memos can be very effective!

Focus on success!

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