Writing@CSU Guide

Business Memos

A memo, short for the word memorandum, comes from the Latin word memorandus, which means, "to be remembered." It is a compact written message designed to help someone remember something. For example, a list of groceries to be picked up on your way home from work is a memo, a simple list of things to be remembered later.

Once acted upon, a memo is often thrown away. Not so with business memos. Unlike letters, the external communications of a company, business memos are an internal form of communication and it is standard practice to save them. Their objective is to deliver information or instructions and writing them is no-nonsense, nose to the grindstone writing. Their scope should be limited to a single topic so that the reader will "get the message" quickly and, if necessary, take an action.

Confined to a single topic, each interoffice, interdepartmental and company wide memo becomes part of the institutional memory of an organization. They record daily activities and eliminate the need for time-consuming meetings. As historical documents they are often referred to when writing reports or resolving disputes regarding past activities. In short, they speed up the daily business of doing business; they keep people who need to be kept in the know, in the know.

When a business organization designs an official letterhead it often also designs an official memo sheet, complete with a company logo featured at the top of the page. Besides having a professional look and feel, preprinted memo sheets often provide specialized information fields that accommodate specific procedures for expediting in-house communications.

When a preprinted memo sheet is not available, one can easily be designed. Click the links on the writing guides menu bar at left for tutorials on writing informational and instructional business memos. Each guide provides instruction, video commentary, and samples.

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