memorandum writing format

memorandum writing format

Effective Techniques for Writing Memos

1. Introduction to Memos

The course will be organized by means of a series of specific writing tasks that you will have to undertake. Each task will be somewhat different from the one before, thereby creating a course that gradually increases its complexity and difficulty. These ideas on course methodology will be presented in reading 1. Each assignment will involve discussion of a series of readings on your part, and of exercises designed to allow you to increase your mastery of the ideas behind the writing tasks. If you do not feel that you have satisfactorily completed any assignment, it may be rewritten up to two additional times. The due dates for your work will be firm, so timely submission is important. You should also remember that writing ability, however one finds the journey to it, will aid you in every way in your future studies and in your professional and private lives. Good luck. We look forward to working with you.

Welcome to an exciting and challenging new course on writing effective memos. We hope that you will enjoy and benefit from the ideas and techniques that you learn from us. Our approach to the course is that teaching you how to write good memos need not be dull. The methods and advice that we present are practiced ones, guaranteed to create an enjoyable and educational experience. In the following readings, you will find some ideas about how we propose to achieve these aims, and what will be expected of you.

2. Key Components of a Memo

The Inside Address: The inside address is the second main part of the memo. It normally announces the subject of the memo and what it specifically addresses. If more than one person is to receive the memo, the inside address identifier of where the information is being directed is provided. Signals may include note takers and file annotators, etc. Use titles that will not change and names that correspond to the title. If you have not been officially introduced to staff members, ask about titles and duties. With these types of titles, use only first names of men and women. It’s a good business practice when possible. Remember, typically more titles report to fewer titles.

A well-written sentence or two that effectively communicates what the memo is about. Sometimes the subject segment carries a colon in front of the text. Do not use a colon if there is only one item under the heading. As the subject is the essence of the memo, make it as precise as possible. If the memo is longer than a page, the date segment for note takers may appear on subsequent pages.

The heading segment follows this general format: TO: (readers’ names and job titles), FROM: (your name and job title), DATE: (complete and current date), SUBJECT: (what the memo is about, highlighted in some way). The heading is the most specific section of the memo, indicating clearly who and how many departments are involved. Although headings typically appear on the first page only for note takers, they appear on all subsequent pages of long memos.

3. Structuring and Formatting a Memo

Other paragraphs – Organization of the paragraphs is analogous to the overall organization of the memo. The content is a formal description of the term key to the memo, in shorter form. Follow up on the introduction, perhaps with some necessary background. If necessary, explain the stated problem or purpose of a memo. In a conclusion, this should be very short and summarize the points made throughout the memo. While it may not be necessary in every instance, providing concrete examples helps to illuminate futures or issues discussed in a memo.

Introduction – When writing an introduction, try to encapsulate all the relevant information in the first few lines. In DSP, you should try to indicate who requested a memo, who it is being written to, and a very brief explanation of the problem at hand. Some guidelines: “DSP Solutions,” “Mr. I don’t Know,” and “The entire department is about to get a new processor; how will it help us?” A useful writing tool when writing memos is to include a central theme and to focus on that message.

The breakdown of a memo into formatting and structure is an essential aspect of writing a memo. Formatting involves the technical aspect of writing. It involves such issues as determining margins, choosing the font and font size, as well as the organization of the text. Structure involves the arrangement or choice of language to be used both in the opening of the memo and in the contents. The different sections of a memo have a role which informs the purpose of each section.

4. Writing Clear and Concise Content

Perhaps the single most compelling reason to write clear and concise writing is the increasing importance of written communication in the modern world of Instagram, Twitter, texting, and so on. As Professor Paul Schindler of City College of New York noted, more people are now reading what businesses send out than at any time in the history of the world. So the writer should also be mindful of the audience; the reader is probably going to be okay with some of the rules of grammar being bent for the sake of brevity, so long as the meaning is clear. That said, brevity is not valued over clarity. Whether the writer is the hotshot with all the best ideas or the poor soul tucked away in some dark corner of an organization, the key is the same. Identifying the interests of the audience and using the writing capabilities to encourage the audience to accept the writer’s point of view are the keys to good written communication.

5. Best Practices for Memos

* What? * Who? * When? * Where? * Why?

4. Be thorough: Do not omit important details about the situation but at the same time, keep things brief because the reader is likely a very busy person. Be sure to cover the five “W’s” of effective business writing:

3. Be chronological: Prepare the body of the memo to be chronological in terms of creating a timeline. This enables you to understand the significance and to organize the details in a certain way. Signal any breaks or transitions with spaced double slashes or with a centered asterisk (*).

2. Summarize: Following the subject line and then a 2-inch space, the memo begins thusly. The reader should be able to effectively understand the main points and the significance of what you are trying to communicate.

1. Be conventional: Some workplace standards should not be questioned. Memos, for example, still follow standard conventions for business paper. Be sure to reserve space at the top for a “from,” “to,” “date,” and “subject” line. Be sure also to boldface and center these headings.

Now that you know the basics of how to write effective memos, can you identify the best practices for writing memos within an organizational setting? All of the following are important techniques to use in your memos EXCEPT ________________.

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