Keep your teams running smoothly with clear communication. A memo is a great resource for conveying important internal information.
Anyone who has worked in a professional space has most likely received a memo from someone else in the organization. When you’re the one who needs to post an internal update, let us walk you through the simple process of creating a memo.

What is a memo?

Short for memorandum, a memo is a concise internal message primarily written in professional environments. Unlike sending an email — a more casual form of communication to one or several recipients — memos are considered official company correspondence. However, they are less formal than letters, which are typically addressed to an external audience.

Memos can also be used to share timely information across non-profit institutions, community organizations, or government agencies. They are a helpful tool for business operations in maintaining clear, efficient communication throughout an organization.

The purpose of a memo is to convey a message in a concise format. The memo needs to explain what is happening and why it is happening, along with any required action items.

Reasons to write a memo.

Memos are written for a variety of topics. Memos provide information or address a problem. They can also be used to solicit feedback on company services, programs, or projects.

Other types of communication for memos include:

  • Personnel changes
  • Upcoming events and meetings
  • Policy or process changes
  • Product or marketing announcements
  • Financial updates
  • General business news

No matter the reason for writing a memo, let us show you how to write a memo and ensure your memo is a success.

1. Write an insightful heading.

The heading conveys the type of memo you’re writing. Even if you are distributing your memo content through email, you should still include the heading at the top since it clearly defines who the memo is for and who sent it.

The heading should include the following format:

  • To — the audience for the memo, such as All Employees or a department name
  • From — your name and job title
  • Date — the memo distribution date
  • Subject — the topic of the memo

    The subject line should be as specific as possible. For instance, instead of “Personnel Update,” change the subject line to “Promotion of Steve Davis, VP of Marketing.”

2. Explain your purpose in the introduction.

As an introduction to the memo, highlight a summary of the situation, issue, or problem. This paragraph is the purpose of the memo and conveys the most important information.

3. Provide relevant background details.

Provide the background and additional details about why the memo is being sent.

Each memo type has a suggested context structure:

For general announcements (personnel changes, HR notices, financial updates, company meetings or milestones, performance reviews)

  • Background or feedback about the situation
  • Decisions made and why the decisions were made

For business problems (operational situations, security concerns, personnel issues)

  • Supporting details about the problem
  • How the problem was discovered
  • Additional evidence about the problem
  • Proposed solutions or actions
  • Dates and timelines

For process changes or updates (procurement updates, HR requests)

  • Summary of previous behavior or situation
  • Summary of new behavior or situation
  • Decisions made and why the decisions were made

For project statuses (product launches, project delays, status reports)

  • Project status and pertinent details
  • Outstanding issues or risks
  • Current or adjusted timelines and dates

For events (webinars, podcasts, seminars, fundraisers, earnings calls)

  • Background information about the event
  • Date(s) and time(s)
  • Details about the location, if applicable
  • How to participate in the event

4. Define a call to action.

Depending on the memo type, create an appropriate call to action for your recipients and invite them to:

  • Contact you with questions
  • Reach out to their manager with any concerns
  • Review attachments or visit a website
  • Complete an assigned task by a deadline
  • Participate in or volunteer for an event
  • Stand by for additional information

If no direct action is required by the recipients, incorporate a supportive follow-up invitation within your conclusion.

5. Close with a courteous conclusion.

Consider how your memo will affect your audience and use this paragraph to create a courteous conclusion.

Conclusion examples:

  • Offer congratulations
  • Thank recipients for their support or patience (depending on the situation)
  • Reinforce recipient feedback or contact options from the Call to Action section
  • Invite recipients to watch for more information

A memo does not require a signature since the sender’s information is provided in the heading.

Tips on writing a successful memo.

State your purpose. Define why the memo needs to be written. Understanding the purpose will help you compose the memo context. The memo’s purpose should be brief and straightforward.

Consider that memos can be written for a variety of reasons:

  • To announce any business item (general business memo)
  • To update the status of a project or service (project memo)
  • To request specific feedback (feedback memo)
  • To announce an upcoming event (event memo)

However, any topic can be written for a memo if it is important to the organization and is intended to be referenced as an official company document.

Determine the audience. Define who will receive the memo. When writing the memo, use clear and concise language everyone understands — do not use complicated terminology, acronyms, or abbreviations. Additionally, use proper grammar and don’t include emojis or slang.

Outline the memo. According to the memo’s purpose, draft the detailed subject, the introduction, the content details, the call to action, and the conclusion for your memo. Your memo should be polite and professional and only convey objective facts. Never include personal bias or opinion in a memo.

Finalize design and formatting. If your content is longer than one page, reevaluate your message and remove nonessential content. If you need to attach a flyer, document, or other item to help clarify your message, you can reference the attachment in the content details section of your memo.

Distribute the memo. Distribute the memo to your intended audience. If your organization has a shared workspace, post the memo in a centralized area. For more remote organizations, the memo content can be distributed via email. If your memo includes attachments, ensure the attachments have been included and distributed appropriately.

Memo formatting and design.

Memos should be one-page documents written in only a few paragraphs. They are single-spaced and left-justified.

Depending on the length of your additional context section, use bullets to separate ideas and break up content for easier reading.

Traditionally printed as a physical handout and attached to office bulletin boards, memos are still in use, even with the decline of printed distribution. In today’s world, where more employees are working from home, memo content can be included easily in the body of an email — it should never be sent as an attachment.

Memos also don’t have to be boring in design. Incorporate branding for your company or organization as part of the memo. You can also style the memo to fit the memo type, such as when creating a memo for an upcoming company party.

Review types of memos and download a free template.

Although writing a memo is straightforward, here is a general memo template and content examples within each memo type — from a business memo template to a specific event template — to get you started. You can use the general memo template as a guide and adjust as needed for varying projects.

You can customize the template directly with PDF editing functionality, or you can export the PDF template to Word.

General Memo.

Screenshot of a general memo template.

Sample general memo — change to performance review date

To: All Team Members

From: Jeffrey Jensen, CEO

Date: December 15, 2023

Subject: Changes to 2024 performance review date

Effective January 1, 2024, performance reviews will be conducted in February instead of March.

This date change has been made to align all aspects of our personnel budget within the first quarter of business. However, no additional changes have been made to the performance review process.

Department managers will distribute the standard performance review preparation materials and the performance review timeline during the first week of January. All personnel salary increases will be implemented by March 29, 2024.

Thank you for your continued commitment, and I wish you a rejuvenating holiday season. We look forward to celebrating your career achievements and learning about your goals for the upcoming year.

Sample general memo — notice of software breach

To: Finance department

From: Jeffrey Jensen, CEO

Date: October 4, 2023

Subject: Recent security breach and changes to software permissions

Because of a recent security breach, we have adjusted permission access to our financial systems.

The security breach occurred as part of a change to our firewall system. We uncovered this situation yesterday and have diligently worked with our IT department to discover the cause. Until the situation has been resolved, we have adjusted all permissions to financial systems. Only senior directors and the executive management team currently have access to these systems.

If you need immediate access to these systems, please contact James Smith. He will provide any requested reports as quickly as possible.

We apologize for the temporary inconvenience as we continue our investigation. I will provide more information as made available by our staff.

Project Memo.

Sample project memo — delay of product launch

To: All Team Members

From: Henry Bittenger, Product Manager

Date: September 12, 2023

Subject: Delay of Product ABC Launch to early 2024

Because of consumer testing and outstanding engineering concerns, the launch of Product ABC has been delayed from our original October 20 launch date to early 2024.

Consumer testing is a significant part of our go-to-market strategy. If testing proves beneficial, we delay our product launch for the general public. Additionally, our engineering team is still reviewing outstanding behaviors that also need to be resolved.

Be assured that we will announce a launch date as soon as additional testing and feedback prove beneficial.

Thank you for your patience.

Feedback Memo.

Sample feedback memo — company benefits program

To: All Employees

From: Jennifer Benson, HR Manager

Date: August 16, 2023

Subject: Feedback for 2024 Company Benefits Program

As company leadership, we request your feedback regarding our current benefits program.

Our current benefits program is up for renewal at the end of the year. We will be defining our 2024 program according to the following timeline:

  • August 16–30 — collect employee feedback
  • September 5–15 — evaluate employee feedback
  • September 18–29 — evaluate program gaps and research needs
  • October 2–27 — conduct employee focus groups
  • November 1–22 — finalize plan offerings
  • November 27 — introduce new program along with open enrollment options

Please complete the included 2023 benefits survey by Friday, September 1.

Additionally, if you are interested in participating in a focus group, please indicate appropriately within the benefits survey.

Thank you for your participation in improving our benefits program!

Attachment: 2023 benefits survey

Event Memo.

Sample event memo — community day of service

To: All volunteers

From: Julia Jensen, Community Coordinator

Date: August 28, 2023

Subject: September 9 Day of Service Activity

Our annual community day of service activity will be held on Saturday, September 9, at Jordanville City Park.

We have coordinated this event with Jordanville City’s community center over the last several months and have committed to completing several maintenance projects.

Please help us support our community by attending this event:

  • Meet at the Jordanville City Park pavilion at 9 am.
  • All community members of all ages are welcome.
  • All tools and supplies will be provided.
  • Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Thank you for your interest and participation!

Sample event memo — annual summit

To: All employees

From: Andrea Anderson, Business Manager

Date: February 6, 2024

Subject: 2024 Annual Summit Date and Agenda

Our annual summit will be hosted at the Springdale Convention Center on May 17, 2024.

This summit brings together the brightest minds in marketing and is an opportunity to workshop with like-minded individuals and colleagues.

The overall schedule is outlined as follows:

  • 8:00 am — registration
  • 9:00 am — keynote address
  • 10:30 am — workshops
  • Noon — lunch
  • 1:30 pm — workshops
  • 3:00 pm — workshops
  • 5:00 pm — dinner
  • 7:00 pm — happy hour & networking

Additional workshop details and our keynote speaker will be available in the next few weeks.

As posted on our website, early-bird registration will open on Monday, February 12, and close on Friday, March 1.

Frequently asked questions.

What are the 5 parts of a memo?

The key components of a memo include five sections:

  1. Heading
  2. Introduction
  3. Details
  4. Call to action
  5. Conclusion

What is the format for a memo?

Memos are a one-page document with single-spaced paragraphs. Memos should be concise documents that convey information quickly. Recipients will also scan your memo, so use subheadings and bulleted lists to help with readability.

How do I write a memo?

Writing a memo can be accomplished in five steps:

  1. Determine the audience.
  2. State your purpose.
  3. Outline the memo.
  4. Finalize design and formatting.
  5. Distribute the memo.

Is there a memo template in Word?

Microsoft Word templates are available by opening a new document and searching for the Memo template type. After you have customized your memo, you can use Adobe Acrobat’s Word to PDF tool to export your memo to PDF.

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