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Memos resemble letters in that they communicate information and are commonly used in the world of business writing. However, memos differ from letters in several important ways:
• • • • • • • •
Memos are almost always used within an organization Memos are usually unceremonious in style Memos are normally used for non-sensitive communication (communication to which the reader will not have an emotional reaction) Memos are short and to-the-point Memos have a direct style Memos do not have a salutation Memos do not have a complimentary closing Memos have a specific format that is very different from a business letter
Memo Format: Memorandum
Text of the memo
General Information About Memos:
Memos usually have one-inch margins on all four sides, and the writer's initials always appear next to the name at the top of the memo. The top line of a memo usually says "Memo" or "Memorandum." The company logo or letterhead frequently goes above this. Some companies omit the words memo or memorandum, although this is not the norm. Below the word "Memo" or "Memorandum" is the date, the name of the person or persons to whom the memo is sent, the name of the writer or sender (with the writer's initials written-in by hand), followed by a very short description of the memo's topic. Sometimes the order of these four items is altered; however, they are always present. These four items are double-spaced and a solid line is frequently drawn below them, separating them from the memo's message. Below the line is the memo's message area. The text in this area is single-spaced. There are two ways to format the text of a memo: block format and modified block format. Block format begins every paragraph flush with the left margin and leaves an empty line of space between each paragraph. Modified block format indents each paragraph and does not leave an empty line of space between each paragraph. Do not mix block and modified block formats.
Example of block format:
Block format is flush left margin, ragged right margin, with a blank space between the lines. Modified block format has an indented first line, ragged right margin, with no blank spaces between the lines. Block format is flush left margin, ragged right margin, with a blank space between the lines. Modified block format has an indented first line, ragged right margin, with no blank spaces between the lines. Block format is flush left margin, ragged right margin, with a blank space between the lines. Modified block format has an indented first line, ragged right margin, with
Example of modified block format:
Block format is flush left margin, ragged right margin, with a blank space between the lines. Modified block format has an indented first line, a ragged right margin, and no blank spaces between the lines. Block format is flush left margin, ragged right margin, with a blank space between the lines. Modified block format has an indented first line, a ragged right margin, and no blank spaces between the lines. Block format is flush left margin, ragged right margin, with a blank space between the lines. Modified block format has an indented first line, a ragged right margin, and no blank spaces between the lines.
Note that with both examples, above, the right margin is not justified. As a rule, do not justify the right margin. To do so puts odd spacing in the middle of your sentences and makes your document very hard to read. The text of the memo almost always begins with a bottom-line statement. A bottom-line statement or message is a short, terse statement of the memo's purpose. All non-sensitive memos should begin with a bottom-line statement. The body or message area of the memo is the "meat" of the memo. The text in this area should be concise, clear, and well-written. Organization is very important. If you have more than one topic or subject (or you have subtopics), you can use headings to make your message more readable and understandable. If you have a list of items within your memo, use bullets. Bullets, like headings, are frequently used in memos to make them easier to read. Avoid unnecessary topics or information--and don't repeat yourself. Some memos contain conclusions; some omit them. Conclusions are good to use if you have several points to make and wish to summarize them or make a recommendation. Conclusions are also useful if you wish to make a request. Notification of attachments is included at the very end of the memo, right above the bottom margin and against the left margin. Always identify your attachment in the following way--Attachment: Exhibit I. If a memo continues to a second page, do not use letterhead or repeat the Date:, To:, From:, Subject: information. On the second page, across the top, put the name of the person to whom the memo is sent flush with the left margin, the page number in the center, and the date at the right margin. Here is a sample:
Some points to remember about good memo writing are as follows: •
Be kind to your reader--use headings and bullets as necessary to make the memo easy to read and key points stand out. Be concise--long sentences with complex construction do not belong in memos. Keep memos short and to-the-point. Come to the point first--always use a bottom-line statement at the very beginning of a non-sensitive memo. Remember memo format--never use a salutation or complementary closing with a memo. Identify your attachments--if your attachments become separated from the memo, your reader will know that they were supposed to be there and can ask for them. Be coherent--limit each paragraph to only one idea. Keep your sentences flowing smoothly, and keep them short. Use a business-like tone--use the first person (I or we); use short, simple words; be as informal as the situation allows; use concrete, specific words. Proofread your work--always read your work (or have someone else read it) before you sent it out.
Identify your audience--identify the person or persons to whom you are writing. Think about what they know, who they are, what they want to see or hear, how they are situated. Clarify your audience's background, context, and environment. Never, never, never write without identifying your audience first.
Engineering-Masters, Inc. MEMORANDUM Date: To: From: July 1, 1995 Harold Johnston Isabel Higginbotham
Subject: Procedure for Handling Payroll Advances _______________________________________________________________ There is a new procedure (to reflect updated policies) for obtaining payroll advances. I believe that our employees will find it an improvement over the old, confusing procedure. The new procedure is as follows: Procedure 1. Obtain Form PR-7, Request for Payroll Advance, from your supervisor. 2. Complete the form by filling in all the blanks in the Employee Section of the form. 3. Have your immediate supervisor approve your request by signing on the Supervisor Approval line. 4. Take the approved Form PR-7 to the receptionist in the Payroll and Benefits Office, Building Z, Room 1620. 5. Pick up your check from the cashier's office, Main Building, Room 201 three working days after turning in Form PR-7. You must have your employee identification card with you to receive your check. 6. Sign the receipt form in the presence of the cashier's office clerk. Policies The following policies govern the issue of payroll advances:
1. Payroll advances may not total more than 80% of an employees normal net pay for a payroll period. 2. Except in the case of a documented emergency, payroll advances are limited to one every two months.
(From: Business Communications (7th ed). William C. Himstreet & Wayne MurlinBaty, 1984)
Data Guys, Inc. Memorandum Date: To: From: December 13, 1996 Annette T. Califero Kyle B. Abrams
Subject: A Low-Cost Way to Reduce Energy Use __________________________________________________________________ As you requested, I've investigated low-cost ways to reduce our energy use. Reducing the building temperature on weekends is a change that we could make immediately, that would cost nothing, and that would cut our energy use by about 6%. The Energy Savings from a Lower Weekend Temperature Lowering the temperature from 68 degrees to 60 degrees from 8 p.m. Friday evening to 4 a.m. Monday morning could cut our total consumption by 6%. It is not feasible to lower the temperature on week nights because a great many staff members work late; the cleaning crew also is on duty from 6 p.m. to midnight. Turning the temperature down for only four hours would not result in a significant heat saving. Turning the heat back up at 4 p.m. will allow the building temperature to be back to 68 degrees by 9 a.m. Our furnace already has computerized controls that can be set to automatically lower and raise the temperature. How a Lower Temperature Would Affect Employees A survey of employees shows that only 7 people use the building every weekend or almost every weekend. Eighteen percent of our staff have worked at least one weekend day in the last two months; 52% say they "occasionally" come in on weekends. People who come in for an hour or less on weekends could cope with the lower temperature just by wearing warm clothes. However, most people would find 60 degrees too cool for extended work. Employees who work regularly on weekends might want to install space heaters.
Action Needed to Implement the Change Would you also like me to check into the cost of buying a dozen portable space heaters? Providing them would allow us to choose units that our wiring can handle and would be a nice gesture towards employees who give up their weekends to work. I could have a report to you in two weeks. We can begin saving energy immediately. Just authorize the lower temperature, and I'll see that the controls are reset for this weekend.
(From: Business Communications (7th ed). William C. Himstreet & Wayne Murlin Baty, 1984)
A Moment In The Sun Tanning Salons Memo Date: To: From: Re: December 14, 1998 T.R. Soleau Ray Ban Marketing Plan Review _________________________________________________________
As you requested, the Marketing Plan Review process has been established and is ready to be put in motion. Initial meetings with all divisions, salons, and marketing & sales staff have been scheduled to begin early next month and will continue until March. Here is the schedule for the meetings:
Southwest Northwest West Midwest South Northeast Southeast
Century City Hotel, Los Angeles Raddison Hotel, Portland Sheraton Stratford Hotel, Boise Chicago Carlton Hotel, Chicago Atlanta Belle Hotel, Atlanta Central Park Central Hotel, New York New Century Hotel, Tampa
Jan. 3 to 7 Jan. 15-19 Feb. 1-4 Feb. 10-14 Feb. 20-24 March 5-9 March 15-19
Attendees will discuss the new marketing plan and give their opinions. In particular, we are anxious to have the following questions answered: * Will the plan work in all areas? * Are any regional adjustments needed? * How does each region react to our new image? * What is each region's gut-level reaction to the plan? I have prepared a 16 page questionnaire to be distributed at the meetings. Hopefully, we will receive input for everyone. I've attached a copy of the questionnaire. Thus far, Harry Hampton and I are scheduled to attend all of the meetings. However, I think it would be advisable to have a substitute available if Harry or I find ourselves ill or otherwise unable to travel. Please let me know if you have any questions. Attachment: Questionnaire
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