what is memorandum writing

what is memorandum writing

The Art of Memorandum Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

1. Introduction to Memorandum Writing

In any organization, there are numerous issues that need to be addressed and resolved from time to time. These issues usually involve big decisions, big recommendations, and big justifications for arriving at those decisions or recommendations. And, it is not always possible for the persons who are working at the top level of an organization (irrespective of what the level may be) to be directly and personally involved in the resolution of each of these issues. In fact, what differentiates the persons working at the top-most level of an organization, such as Chairman, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, or Director, is the cap of being the highest policymaking body of that organization. In the ultimate analysis, it is the set of decisions taken by these policymakers that determines the course of action for an organization, and ultimately, its destiny. However, as stated earlier, there are several organizational issues that are never resolved at this level – these are left to be handled, at subsequent lower and lower levels, through delegations of authority.

2. Key Components of a Memorandum

The memorandum is the primary tool used to convey information within a military organization. The purpose of a memorandum is to convey up-to-date information regarding a particular issue and to encourage action. A memorandum serves as a clear, concise way to communicate a demand or call to action. The format of a memorandum should include a standard 1-inch margin on all sides of the page. Memoranda should also include the date, to, from, and subject information at the top of the page. The main body of a memorandum should be double-spaced, with single spacing between paragraphs. The date line must provide the date on which the memo was actually created. The “to” line should contain the person or office for whom the memorandum is intended. The “from” line identifies the individual or office that authored the memo. The subject line should adequately provide the subject or reason for writing the memorandum. Be specific, but be concise. The subject should allow the reader to make an umbrella decision about the meeting without giving a full briefing.

The Army writing standard is writing as you talk and talking as you write, using words that convey a single clear meaning. Shorter sentences, phrases, and words convey the same meaning but imply differing levels of confidence. As an Army leader, you must provide precise standards for your soldiers to follow. Developing concepts, policies, and procedures is the first step in the writing process. Once you perform these tasks, you must communicate these statements quickly, accurately, and persuasively. You must know the basics of Army writing so you can convince your readers to follow your ideas or act on your recommendations. This section disregards some traditional rules for writing and introduces a more effective and timely approach to leadership writing.

3. Writing Style and Format Tips

A gleam of style is not a substitute for good analysis. A memorandum of law, in form and function, must be objective, analytic, and rigorous. Unsupported assumptions and conclusions show a lack of both analysis and confidence. At the same time, the memorandum should have a certain vitality that goes beyond bland and lifeless authorial ambitions. It should excite the author as well as the client and the ultimate reader. Both the reader and writer should also be aware that there are alternative ways to meet the traditional forms. The discipline of the legal process may provide the form of analysis; in rare cases, it may be a catalyst for creative thinking rather than dull the intellect. With appropriate emphasis on logic, structure, content, and language, the writer raised both the quality and the pleasure of the writer. These tips are provided to help the writer polish their memorandum.

Academic debates about the format and style of memorandums of law are numerous. One area of general agreement is that a memorandum should communicate its point by clear, direct, logical, and economical use of language. Moreover, many legal readers, including those in positions of power (such as law school faculties), will equate good style with good thinking. Sound ideas must be conveyed in a coherent, integrated, and persuasive manner, or they may be overlooked.

4. Common Mistakes to Avoid

Similarly, you should also be aware of the slang, technical jargon, and idiomatic expressions you include in a memorandum’s text. A memorandum should reflect the tone of your communication to your opposing counsel. If you have a formal, professional relationship with opposing counsel, demonstrate that relationship through your use of clear, plain, neutral language. Conversely, if your relationship allows it, by all means, maintain the same nonadversarial tone in your memorandum.

As we have repeated several times throughout this guide, precision is the key to effective memorandum. Many lawyers are quick to dismiss as meaningless any distinction among words that appear to mean the same thing. But often the small differences among seeming synonyms actually do express shades of meaning. A memorandum should sort out these shades of meaning delicately yet precisely. It should do this as efficiently as possible – without waxing too long on the theme – in order to allow the reader to easily digest the differences among the shades of meaning discussed. Christopher Cerf, a veteran advice columnist for young writers, gives the same advice but with a delightful twist: “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between ‘lightning’ and ‘lighting bug,’ as Mark Twain liked to point out. Choose your words carefully.” Be conscious of words they use and, unless your final audience is familiar with the pun, as Twain was, avoid adding your own witticisms to any memorandum you write.

4.1 Introduction

5. Practical Examples and Exercises

By providing practical exercises and examples, Part Two is intended for this purpose to be a hands-on learning tool to build these skills. The author, however, provides disclaimers in various problems. He emphasizes as well that learning objectives not only focus on the best way to communicate, but to develop skills for you to develop as a writer and a manager. Part three then attempts to measure the quality of what you exercise through submissions in Part Three. In his view, if you don’t produce a quality memo, a document that addresses the key issues outlined by him, the document may fail to effectively communicate information. If the reader does not find the call to action required, the memo-writing exercise may not be successful. The effective communicator makes many adaptations, he notes, to her writing based on a number of circumstances, like relationship with audience, discussion of sensitive issues, and ownership.

Though it might seem simple in the beginning, as many professionals in different organizations find out, the memorandum is the most important tool for communication in an office. It is also one of the trickiest because the form is short and a lot of qualifications and goodwill are expected by your reader. After providing guidelines and cautionary notes on structure as well as certain required elements in the first part of the book, Barrington makes this point on stylistic points: “You have to make the reader understand you in this limited space. And you also have to convince him.” If you can avoid these pitfalls, develop a certain style and practice while keeping these principles in mind, the essay suggests that if you can master memo writing as well as learn how to really understand and know your reader, you are in a good position to succeed in the office in any organization.

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