Use internal memos to inform and make requests of the people within your company or within a team that is organised around a specific undertaking. Internal memos help you accomplish many objectives in a straightforward manner. You can analyse, explain or clarify a subject. You can make recommendations, send reminders, give instructions, issue reports, make announcements or transmit materials. Internal memos may also be used to request information, approvals, contributions or help. Utilise the uncomplicated format to logically compose your message, target a precise group of people and share your thoughts rapidly, objectively and concisely.
- Skill level:
Create a heading with the words "TO," "FROM," "DATE," and "SUBJECT." Place a colon after each capitalised word and enter a double-return after each word.
Name your readers in the "TO:" line. Use their proper names and titles separated by semicolons. For example, write "Dennis Hernandez, Chair; Lakesha Jones, Secretary; Mary Murphy, Treasurer." For brevity, you may also address groups by name, such as "Department heads" or "All staff."
Identify yourself as the memo's originator by typing your name and title in the "FROM:" line. Note that this identification eliminates the need to sign your memo at the end. You may, however, initial next to your name to authenticate your authorship.
Write a sufficiently descriptive title in the "SUBJECT:" line. Avoid using a general term, such as "Security." Instead, use a phrase that summarises your message, such as "New security alarm procedures effective 15th of March, 2014."
Present a brief, ideally one-paragraph, introduction of your memo's contents. Most importantly, communicate its purpose to compel reading. For example, "Beginning next week, you will need to follow new security alarm procedures to enter the office. This memo shows you how."
Describe the circumstances that necessitated your memo's information or request. Focus only on what your readers need to know. For example, don't mention the extensive security research and discussions that you undertook in your memo to the staff. Write instead, "We are replacing our current, malfunctioning security system with the state-of-the-art XYZ system. While the new system is much easier to use, you will still need to set aside a few minutes this week to learn how to use it."
Describe the steps that you want your readers to take, or the actions that you commit to take to accommodate a request. For example, "Please sign up for one of five training sessions this week," or "To resolve our alarm issue, I will meet with several security system vendors this month and make a recommendation to the Executive Committee by February 15."
List facts and ideas uncovered by your research, or the convincing evidence that supports your recommendation. Organise your information from general to specific and arrange supporting details from strongest to weakest.
End your memo courteously, offering to provide additional help if needed. Summarise your memo's contents, benefits and call to action.
Tips and warnings
- If you add supporting documents to your memo, note them beneath your closing paragraph as follows: "Attached: Security systems comparative summary, February 2014."
- Similarly, add a "cc:" line after your memo closing to list the names and titles of individuals who will get a copy of your memo for information or reference only.
- Be selective about recipients of the memo and avoid using their nicknames when adding them in your "TO:" list.
- Keep your memo to one page, if possible. The best way to accomplish this by keeping it simple and direct.
- Use e-mails for short, informal internal communications. Use internal memos, such as those described here, for longer internal communications that need more permanence and formality.
- Don't use an internal memo to send sensitive material. Opt instead to use phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
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