army memorandum writing

army memorandum writing

Effective Techniques for Writing Army Memorandums

1. Introduction to Army Memorandums

Furthermore, the basic structure of the Army Memo (property markings omitted) is the TO, FROM, SUBJECT format, rather than a more general-purpose memorandum template like what is traditionally found within that other dominant tool of federal dependence, Microsoft Word. Additionally, this standard doesn’t require that the document be housed in a footer as their documentation requirements are locked into 12-pt Times New Roman font. Then again, this is a professional value that we ought to promote for correspondence as well.

When most people think of the phrases “I need to do a memorandum” or “I need to interview someone for a memorandum,” they are likely to think of some type of business memo or business report, or maybe a personal memo like some type of Congressional action. However, this is not always true. Specifically, for those in the military or who are writing about a military action, there is a special type of note called a memorandum. This particular form, known as the Department of the Army Memorandum Format, seems to have originated in the United States military and is now primarily used by military departments and related agencies. The form is very easy and is consistent with other accepted formats for the type of memorandum that is being written. While this technical note will describe in detail some different types of effective techniques for writing a military memorandum, the skills taught here are transferable to all types of professional writing.

2. Key Components of an Army Memorandum

The sending station is the first component of the memorandum, depending on what type of memorandum it is, it may differ from the other. The sending station is the origin content. The address field consists of the leader’s title and the addressee. The subject or the title is the reason the memorandum is written. The first paragraph of the memorandum will identify the mission of the unit. The second paragraph will contain important information pertinent to operations. The third paragraph may contain guidelines or additional information given by the sender or superior. The signature block again adds the sender’s credentials, job title, and personal signature. Upon completion of each inscription, the sender has to initial every component on the left-hand corner, affixing his or her initials.

To write an effective memorandum, there are a few key components that you should pay attention to. These components consist of the sending station, which is the originating content. The address field, which includes the leader’s title and the addressee. The subject or the title, which is the reason the memorandum is written. The first paragraph identifies the mission of the unit. The second paragraph contains information that is pertinent to operations. The third paragraph may contain guidelines and additional information given by the sender or superior. Last is the signature block, which adds the sender’s credentials and personal signature. Each component is necessary to present a well-written and organized memorandum.

3. Formatting Guidelines and Best Practices

Use standard written language requirements, including consideration of date and time effects on policy or task performance, unless the difference in audience or objective makes standardization counterproductive. If the source offers a choice rather than one specific written language format, select preference depending on the audience or task. If a chain of command/customary procedure blocks reader and writer from seeking better clarification as the initial solution to the problem, ensure that the wording of the memorandum is so clear that others will sympathize with the writer or editor writing an evaluative comment that the intended understanding was inconsistent with the results of a flawed recommendation or order.

Good writers may be tempted to bypass organizational guidelines because of previous writing experience or the shortness of many Army memorandums. However, doing so could result in embarrassment or litigation for the author, editors, and/or writers. Follow organizational guidelines whenever possible. Consistency in writing style is another key to clear, understandable writing. Because people have different preferences, style also has the potential to reinforce instruction and performance reports through the use of informational open notes and endorsements that prevent error.

4. Common Mistakes to Avoid

It is essential that you use good judgment in deciding if a memorandum is the best method of handling a particular situation. If you cannot draft a well-written memorandum that will not antagonize or oversensitize the reader and if writing such a document requires too much time and energy, you should resort to the army message form or telephone call. After all, there is very little difference in the content and length of an army message form and a memorandum; it’s just the form’s medium.

In the modern age of technical writing, the memo has not outlived its usefulness. Although frowned upon by many writing instruction books, the experienced writer of military documents keeps a supply of memorandums on hand, using them to correspond with supervisors, between agency sections, and for interagency and community correspondence. Memorandums are very functional for maintaining rapid, high-quality communication within the agency and without, thereby increasing efficiency, productivity, and readiness.

5. Tips for Writing Clear and Concise Army Memorandums

Avoid useless instructions or excuses before stating your answer, reply, or opinion. Stick to the facts and avoid drawing out the issue. If your memo is longer than four paragraphs, contains words that are not commonly used, and/or does not have a brief page-length, it’s likely too long or multi-factored. Answer the most important question(s) in the first or second paragraph if possible. If it is a complex problem, then give the reader an executive summary, or upfront detail that prepares the reader following the 6 W’s (What, when, where, why, how). Tell the reader to “read more” at the end of the summary. Keep the first two paragraphs short or about the same size as the following “thrust of the memo.” This will catch the attention of the reader and maintain it through the rest of the text. Make sure the reader understands the main thrust within the summary. “This is the information I have to tell you.” The rest is or can be extra in-depth data (reasons/rec’s) provided to drive the outcome of the first or second paragraph statement.

Consider your audience before you write. At the Army Staff Writing Level, one expects to communicate more or less with equal peers who are familiar and can understand the same jargon and write in the same active, third person, and passive voice. Keep the summary or main point simple and get to the point sooner than later. A memo is a tool for communication more than a form. It may be necessary to break the standard letter construction of a memorandum based on the situation in order to help the reader understand the memo. Part of understanding a memo is understanding the purpose of the memo and how leaders may act from it. Always make sure the recipient fully understands what action is necessary and when it is due.

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