“Did you get that memo?” In an age of email, you might not get asked this question as frequently as Peter Gibbons did in the cult classic Office Space. However, memos still hold value in the modern workplace.
When you finish this eTip, you’ll not only “get the memo” but also get how to format one.
When should I send a memo?
Memos work best for formal communication about important matters within your organization. You might use memos to communicate the following:
- a new course of action
- a change in policy
- an issue or initiative that requires immediate attention
- a company-wide call to action
How should I format my memo?
Memo format organizes a great deal of information in a small space. The title, heading, and closing form a frame around the body of the memo. Let's take a closer look at the parts:
Center the bolded title at the top of the page, using one of these options:
- The word Memo
- The word Memorandum
- The Name of the Company
Leave a blank line after the memo title. If the memo is confidential, place the bold, all-caps word CONFIDENTIAL on its own line, flush left. Then leave a blank line below it.
The heading consists of the following four labels, set bold and flush left, followed by a colon:
- Date: Indent to the date spelled out in traditional (August 9, 2020) or military (9 August 2020) style. Leave a blank line below the date.
- To: Indent to align with the date above and provide the first recipient's name and job title (and possibly email or phone). Return the line and indent to the same position to enter the next recipient's name and job title (and contact information). Continue to add more recipients on their own lines. Leave a blank line after the last recipient.
- From: Indent to align with the recipient above and provide your name and job title (and possibly email or phone). For other senders, return the line and indent to the same position to enter each on a separate line. If you distribute the memo on paper, initial next to your name. Leave a blank line after the last recipient.
- Subject: or Re: Indent to align with the sender above and provide a subject line. Use key words that clearly identify the topic and purpose of the memo. Capitalize the first and last words of the subject and all words in between except articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet), and short prepositions (in, of, for, with, etc.). Leave a blank line below the subject line.
David Wilson, Marketing Manager
Sarah Ellsworth, Copywriter
Holiday Ad Campaign
After the heading, write the body of your message. Keep it short and to the point, using short paragraphs and lists to help readers digest the information. Include a focus statement that names your topic and why are writing about it. Then include answers to the 5 W’s and H: Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
A basic memo can simply close with the last paragraph of the body. However, you have a number of options for expanded memos. (Leave a blank line above/below each.)
- Quick-response options such as check boxes or fill-in-the blanks help readers quickly decide about the issue you raise.
Initial here to approve 10 hours of overtime per week for Jason Williams. _________
- An identification line lists the uppercase initials of the author followed by a slash and the lowercase initials of the person who typed the memo.
- An attachment notification can alert readers to attachments or enclosures. Follow the word with the number of attachments or with a colon and the names of documents, listed vertically.
Enclosure: Jason Williams Work Schedule
- A copy notification indicates others who receive the memo. Type c (copy) or cc (courtesy copy) followed by a colon. Then list vertically the names and titles of other recipients.
cc: Carla Jones, Human Resources Director
Jason Williams, Technician
Sample Expanded Memo
C O N F I D E N T I A L
|Josie James, Director of Personnel
Rebecca Tash, LAHW Representative
Ike Harris, Graphic Arts Director
Promotion of Mona Veal to Full-Time Graphic Artist
For the past 18 months, Mona Veal has done outstanding work as a part-time graphic artist in our Marketing Department. I recommend that she be promoted to full-time status and be given the necessary $2.50 per hour wage increase and full benefits. The promotion is warranted for two reasons:
- Throughout the past 18 months, Mona has demonstrated those traits that Slenk Manufacturing most values in its graphic artists: creativity, dependability, and the ability to work well with others.
- Presently we have four full-time and two part-time graphic artists. While this group was able to complete its projects on time last year, Allison Christian in Accounting tells me that the full-time employees averaged 3.5 hours of overtime per week throughout the year. Given that fact, our new contract with LEE-MAR Industries will soon put a strain on both the group and our budget.
If you approve the promotion, please initial below and return this memo.
Yes, proceed with Mona Veal’s promotion to full-time graphic artist. ____
Attachment: Evaluation report of Mona Veal
c: Elizabeth Henry, Assistant Director of Personnel