The heading of a business memo consists of four distinct information fields and should begin two spaces below the title.
Each field is identified by a single word, followed by a colon, printed in bold uppercase letters. Though not mandatory, it is generally accepted that their order of appearance is as follows:
- The recipient's name goes here. It is generally accepted practice that titles such as Mr., Mrs., and Dr. are not used in this field. Formal situations do, however, call for using full names. A title or position, such as Purchasing Agent, should follow if appropriate.
- When informal situations call for using a first name or a nickname, by all means, go ahead. This is a judgment call that you should make based upon the relationship you have with the reader.
- When two or three people are to receive the same memo all of their names may be placed on the same line. They should appear either alphabetically or in descending order, according to where they rank in a company's organizational chart.
- When the number of people meant to receive the same memo is too large, place only the first or most important name on the line. The rest can then be named in a cc notation.
- On many occasions it is appropriate to use a generic term, such as Colorado, Wyoming and Montana Sales Associates in place of a proper name.
- Your name goes here. As with the recipient's name, titles such as Mr., Mrs., and Dr. are not customarily used in this field. In formal situations, however, you should use your full name, followed by a job related title, such as Public Relations Manager, if it helps identify you to those with whom you are not acquainted.
- Again, as with the recipient's name, your decision on the level of formality is a judgment call that should be based upon the relationship you have with the reader. If a first name or a nickname is appropriate, by all means, go ahead.
- You should hand write your initials near the end of your printed name. It personalizes your business memo while authorizing its contents.
- To avoid any misunderstanding, the date should always be spelled out. It's a cultural thing.
- In the United States the numerical representation 7/4/04 means July 4, 2004; in other countries it means 7 April 2004.
- In a globally interconnected business world, accuracy on this point is essential.
- This field is important and needs to be precise and brief. It should indicate exactly what the memo is about. The reader should understand, at a glance, to what the information or instructions contained in the body pertains to.
- Trade Show as a subject doesn't cut it; it's too vague. Trade Show/Travel Budget is better, but First Quarter Trade Show/Expense Account Rules is much more complete.
- Capitalize all key words. Articles, conjunctions, and prepositions should be capitalized only when they occur at the beginning or end of your subject line.
A heading may be placed in either a vertical or horizontal layout. Pick the one you like and stick with it; a consistent visual appearance will help your readers develop the habit of recognizing the communications that come from your desk