Business memos have been around for more than 140 years. The reason for their longevity? They work.
Even in the age of instant communication and writing emails, business memos remain a popular choice for formal communication within the office setting. People tend to pay more attention to them and hang on to them longer than they would a simple email.
- Done the right way, your business memo will be read by your recipients right away and acted on accordingly.
- But if you don’t know how to write a business memo effectively, you risk drawing the ire of your colleagues and leadership team.
The key to writing a great business memo is to share your ideas or message in as clear and concise a manner as possible.
Whether the information within your memo is about a minor plumbing issue in the office or a major leadership change, you’ll need to know how to write a business memo effectively so it is easily read and understood by busy employees.
This article will give you five expert tips on how to write a business memo more effectively.
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1. Know Your Audience
The first lesson when writing anything business-related, including how to write a business memo, is to know your audience.
- Drafting a memo for your colleagues will not look the same as one that you would write for your bosses (or your subordinates).
- Sometimes you will want to direct your business memo to a few people, and other times it will need to go to multiple departments or the whole office.
- Take caution when writing to many people and ensure you speak in a language that everyone can understand. Avoid technical jargon. Be friendly yet professional.
Finally, be careful about sending sensitive or personal information in your memo. In some cases, a memo may seem harsh or could even inflame a situation.
Remember that sometimes the best form of communication is still an old-fashioned phone call or an in-person meeting.
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2. Clearly State the Purpose of Your Memo
A good business memo is brief and to the point. Business memos are not supposed to be drawn-out information articles.
The most critical aspects of how to write a business memo are to:
- State the memo’s purpose in the title.
- Write the most crucial information first.
- And try to stick to the point for the entirety of your message.
Consider what subjects and topics are most important to your recipients and emphasize those elements at the beginning of your memo. When reading business memos, most people appreciate brevity, so make your point quickly.
If you are sending a memo to many people—business people who are busy with other things—they will need to know right away if your memo is something they need to pay attention to.
Be concise but also precise with your subject line. Avoid vague descriptions such as “Upcoming meeting.” Use something more accurate like “Meeting at 3 p.m. today to discuss new product line.”
Most people will take one glance at your subject line and decide whether or not to read your memo, so ensure you put all the relevant information into the memo’s purpose and subject line.
Once you have used these tips on how to write a business memo and crafted your message, the best thing to do next is have a professional proofread and edit your memo.
Super Copy Editors can help you make sure your memo looks and sounds exactly the way you want it before you send it out to the entire office. Trust our experienced editing team to put the finishing touches on your business memos and never worry about sending the wrong message again. Request your quote for editing now.
3. Attach Only Appropriate Information
Fact: More people will read a concise memo.
So, what does that mean?
You should include the pertinent information and nothing more. Attach any bulky forms or documents to the memo so your audience can read them for more information if they would like to do so.
If you are asking all employees to fill out a questionnaire, the memo can simply state the purpose of the survey and how the results will be used for their gain—and then you can mention that the actual form is included as an attachment.
4. Use the Appropriate Tone
Business memos should be confident and direct. However, you have to consider your target audience and the content of your memo and choose the appropriate tone to convey your message.
Sending a memo with the wrong tone can be just as confusing and counterproductive as a memo with inaccurate information.
- For example, a sensitive human resources memo might need a more understanding or systematic tone.
- In contrast, a memo about landing a big client could have a joyful and celebratory tone.
In any case, ensure the tone of your memo remains straightforward, efficient, and business-like.
5. Proofread Carefully
The final tip for writing a business memo effectively is to make sure your memo reads and sounds its best. Since most memos are shorter, there is a tendency to rush through the proofreading process. This is a common mistake many people make and, as we all know, hastiness has consequences.
Typos, misspelled words, grammatical errors, and other mistakes can take away from your message. These errors also convey carelessness and unprofessionalism.
So proofread your business memo slowly, carefully, and out loud. Also, ask a colleague to look over your memo—they will see things you have missed.
For important memos, consider hiring a professional proofreader. The experienced team at Super Copy Editors will catch any errors in your business memo and align your copy with the tone you wish to convey. Get your free proofreading quote today.
A Few More Tips
At Super Copy Editors, we like to give you more than you bargained for. Here are some more quick tips on how to write a business memo effectively.
Enhance Your Business Memo’s Readability:
- Add some white space between paragraphs.
- Use short sentences and paragraphs.
- Instead of blocks of text, break them up with bulleted or numbered lists.
Proper Business Memo Formatting:
- Close with a courteous and professional tone.
- Be clear about what action you want the reader to take (reply, read the attachments, RSVP for the meeting, etc.).
- Include contact information in case the reader has any questions.
Don’t forget! Download “How to Write a Business Memo Effectively: 5 Tips to Efficiently Get Your Point Across” to keep it handy and take action on it. Click here to download it now.
Sample Business Memo
Here is a sample business memo and a suggested format. You can adjust this sample as necessary for your needs:
To: All part-time employees
From: Daniel Smith, Vice President
Date: Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Subject: Solutions to parking problems
Thank you for letting us know about your parking lot concerns at Monday’s meeting. This memo is to inform you of three possible solutions to the parking problems we have been experiencing while the annex is under construction. Here are three places you can park:
- Graham Avenue on the north side of the main building
- Non-designated spaces behind the main parking lot
- The dentist’s lot near the south side of the main building (available after 5 p.m. and on weekends only)
With these added options, you should be able to find parking spots for the rest of December. If the weather cooperates, your normal spaces will be out of the construction zone around January 1.
Thank you for your patience, and please let me know if you have any concerns.
Here is another sample business memo:
To: Marketing team
From: Sharvari Kumar, President
Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Subject: New product launch delayed until Spring 2023
The purpose of this memo is to inform you that, unfortunately, the launch of our Shiny New Product is being postponed until early next year.
The launch is being delayed because of ongoing supply-chain challenges that prevented us from sourcing a microchip that was essential to the product.
Here is what this means for the marketing team:
- Until further notice, please stop all work on content marketing related to the new product.
- Ensure that any existing materials on our website and social media that mention the previous launch date of October 2022 are updated as soon as possible to “Spring 2023” instead.
The marketing team has put in a lot of hard work over the past year in anticipation of this product launch, and I appreciate your efforts. All of us at Company X are saddened by the delay, but we expect great things in the months ahead.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. I will be sending you a more comprehensive list of instructions by email on Thursday morning, so please be on the lookout for it.
Still Need Help?
We get it. There’s a lot more to how to write a business memo than you thought, isn’t there?
Don’t worry. Super Copy Editors has you covered. For all your proofreading and editing needs, including polishing up business memos, we can help make sure your text is error-free, crystal-clear, and meets your specific goals.
Learn more about our business proofreading services, which we tailor to your needs.
- The business memorandum emerged in the late 1870s to early 1880s, and its use became widespread in the 1920s, according to research by JoAnne Yates in her book Control Through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management (Baltimore, 1989) and later reported by John Guillory. Therefore, the business memo has been around for more than 140 years.
- “The Emergence of the Memo as a Managerial Genre,” Management Communication Quarterly 2 (1989): 485–510.
- Brounstein, Marty et al. Business Communication (London: Wiley & Sons), 2010.