Julie DeNeen is a freelance writer who worked at the administrative offices of a school district, becoming the leading memo-writing lady.
Informal Memos Still Have Rules
In the age of the Internet, you might think that writing memos has gone out of style. Who needs to send a memo when you can just text or email? But in fact, there are still plenty of reasons to send a proper (informal) memo, 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
- 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 names and places, but do not capitalize the words in the heading (except for 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 them. 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.
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!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Lule Ambrose on March 25, 2014:
Thanks a lot Julie DeNeen ,
in fact i gat an assignment am attempting from my bro at campus and guess what... it's about writing a memo.
This is very nice info. It will serve us well.
Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on August 12, 2012:
A good write Julie. I see that there is still a place for memo's. Vote up and useful!
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 12, 2012:
This is a very useful hub. It's so important to communicate effectively, and you have given great examples and laid everything out so well. Great job!
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on August 12, 2012:
Great hub and way to make something "boring," rather interesting. Haha. I'd *never* send a memo that I didn't want my mom to see. Haha. She wouldn't want to see ANY of them, actually.
As an aside, you're a mom of three? (Sorry, I saw that at the bottom of the hub.) Dang, girl. You rock the hub!
Joshua Zerbini from Pennsylvania on August 11, 2012:
Another excellent hub Julie! That screenshot you took was pretty hilarious! Thanks for the great information! Have a great weekend! :)
LJ Scott from Phoenix, Az. on August 11, 2012:
Very nice Julie... you are such a professional at this...you make it look easy. Great hub!
Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on August 11, 2012:
My first "writing gig" was writing an endless supply of a variety of memos. I think I could STILL write them in my sleep. Excellent directions on how to write informal memos, Julie. :)
Janine Huldie from New York, New York on August 11, 2012:
I received and actually created plenty of memos back in the day when I worked in corporate back in my early 20s. I agree that a good memo should never go out of style, but unfortunately in this day and age with technology some people would disagree. As always, a wonderful, informative and insightful article, Julie! Have voted and shared too!!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 11, 2012:
In today's world, writing memos is not the only thing that has gone out of style....good writing of any sort is out of style. Thanks for the reminder and education.
KDuBarry03 on August 11, 2012:
Very useful information, Julie! Business, as a standard, definitely calls for succinct information and to the point. I have some friends who are business majors at Rowan; so, I'll be sharing this on facebook for them!
Great and informative topic. Thanks for sharing, Julie!