How to Write an Informal Memo
In the age of the Internet, it would seem that writing memos has gone out of style. Who needs to send a memo when you can text or shoot an email? But the fact is, that there are still lots of reasons to send a one, and if you want to appear professional, there are rules to follow. Here's how to do it properly.
Situations That Require a Hardcopy Memo:
- Faxing documents to organizations that require hard copies instead of email (medical practices, government offices, etc.)
- Sending a package, book, or document that requires a note explaining action items for the receiver
- A private message that is not appropriate to send via email
- A mass delivery of information to workers distributed in their mailboxes (if a work-wide email system is not yet in place)
Keep in mind that even if you can send information via email, using an informal memo format in the email is a professional way to communicate.
All memos begin with the word "memo" or "memorandum". If you use Microsoft Word, find a template that fits the style of your business or organization. Many offices use a header file that is customized for their business. Then you want to include the most important information at the top so it is easy for the reader.
- Whom it is to
- Whom it is from
- The date
- Who else may have received the memo
- The subject line
Writing the body of a memo is fairly simple. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. If you can use bolded subheadings and lists, go ahead and do so, since that will make it easier for your reader to glean the important information quickly. Use the same rules and grammar that you would if you were writing an online article. Do not use slang words like "gonna" or "wanna". Avoid acronyms like "LOL" or "TTL". These are too informal for even an informal memo.
Use the spellcheck in your Word program and make sure you are free of typos and awkward phrasing. Capitalize any and all names and places, but do not capitalize the words in the heading (with the exception of the first word).
At the end of your document, sign off like you would a letter. Even though you put the "from" information in the header, it is nice to sign it off. Since most memos are hard copied, leave a space to sign it. If you send it in an email, that is not necessary.
Do not use slang words like "gonna" or "wanna". Avoid acronyms like "LOL" or "TTL". These are too informal for even an informal memo.
Different Types of Memos
- Directives: This type instructs your co-workers about a new action that you want them to follow.
- Responses: This type is usually written as a result of an action item change. If your directive memo was announcing a change in weekly meeting time, then a response memo might be from a co-worker who has a conflict.
- Trip Reports: This type gives summary information about a meeting, business trip, or other venture that requires a staff member to report back to a supervisor or larger group.
- Field Reports: This type is usually in response to an inspection.
- Credit Memos: This type is a very different format as it usually describes financial information regarding services or goods. Check out Microsoft Word's templates for credit memos to see the format.
A Memo Gone Wrong!
Keep in mind that any information written down cannot be retracted. Make sure you are careful in your wording to sound professional and factual, even if it is an informal memo. With practice, you too will become a memo-writing expert!