How to Write a Memo
The term ‘memo’ is an abbreviation of ‘memorandum’ which derives from the Latin meaning ‘a thing to be remembered’.
Prior to the use of computer technology in the office a memo was used to inform staff of important information which a boss or team leader may have needed them to know about. It may have been intended for just one person or the same information may have had to be distributed to many members of staff simultaneously and it would usually consist of a few basic facts which would be typewritten then photocopied and distributed by hand around the office to all the intended parties.
This could often take quite a considerable time if there were many recipients and they were all located on various floors of a large office block.
However today, computer technology, and e-mail in particular, has made the process of sending a memo, or something akin to it, so much easier and more instant. The sender can simply type the memo into one single e-mail and can simply copy in or ‘cc’ all the names of all the people they wish to receive it and then it can be sent to them all simultaneously so that they all receive the information at the same time.
A memo is only used in business and, because of e-mail, has even tended to lose its official title of ‘memo’ these days. However, it is simply to make all intended recipients aware of something that is important and which they need to be aware of. They contain no more than a few lines usually, just enough to say what they have to and, although they are the domain of the workplace, a similar equivalent at home might be a few scribbles on a notepad or a note left on the fridge door, perhaps a reminder for the kids to go out and get some extra milk, for example.
It can be written in either a formal or informal style which will be determined by the nature of the working environment itself. It can often be very casual in style and the key issue is to keep the memo concise and clear so that there can be no misunderstandings. There are no strict criteria about what the memo should contain but, often, it will be used to inform staff members about things such as a meeting date and time along with the location or it can be used to let staff know about any changes to policy or make them aware of information that will enable them to do their job more effectively.
How to Write a MemoHere is an example of an e-mailed ‘memo’ to alert staff about a visit from overseas guests.
Just to let you know that Richard will be arriving at the office about 11am this morning with a party of delegates from Hong Kong. Therefore from 10.30 onwards, can you all make sure that you do not have any drinks on your desks and that your desks are free from clutter. Also, no chewing gum whilst they’re here. Richard needs to make a good impression on these visitors regarding a large order for the circuit boards so first impressions count and all that stuff.
I appreciate your co-operation.