How to Write an Effective Memo

Submit a short discussion memo (three pages) that analyzes the topic as well connects history and contemporary issues. The discussion memo and feedback paper should be Standard 1-inch margins, 12-point font, double spaced writing, free of grammatical and spelling errors. Appropriate use of varied references is required; this includes interviews, newspaper, magazines and books (Chicago / MLA). Papers will be subject to checks for plagiarism.
How to Write an Effective Memo
Memo (short for memorandum) is a business-oriented style that is best suited for interoffice or intercolleague correspondence. More informal in tone and organization than a letter, memos are generally used to provide or ask for information, announce a new policy, update on personnel transfers, or for any other internal issues.
Elements of an Effective Memo
An effective memo:

  •   grabs the reader’s attention
  •   provides information, makes a recommendation, or asks for action
  •   supports your position or explains benefits to reader
  •   mentions next steps and deadlines
    When composing a memo, always take the four-step approach to writing: plan what you want to say, write a draft, revise the draft, and edit.
    Types of Memos
    There are four types of memos you might have to write, each with its own organizational format: information, problem-solving, persuasion, and internal memo proposal.
    Information Memo
  •   used to deliver or request information or assistance
  •   first paragraph provides main idea
  •   second paragraph expands on the details
  •   third paragraph outlines the action required
    Problem-solving Memo
  •   suggests a specific action to improve a situation
  •   first paragraph states the problem
  •   second paragraph analyzes the problem
  •   third paragraph makes a recommendation
  •   when making a recommendation, include not only the positive details but also the drawbacks and diffuse them yourself
    Persuasion Memo
  •   used to encourage the reader to undertake an action he or she doesn’t have to take
  •   first paragraph begins with an agreeable point
  •   second paragraph introduces the idea
  •   third paragraph states benefits to the reader

 fourth paragraph outlines the action required fifth paragraph ends with a call to action
Internal Memo Proposal

  •   used to convey suggestions to senior management
  •   first paragraph states reason for writing
  •   second paragraph outlines present situation and states writer’s
  •   third paragraph describes advantage(s)
  •   fourth paragraph mentions and diffuses disadvantage(s)
  •   fifth paragraph ends with a call to action
    Memo Parts
    More informal in appearance and tone than a letter, a memo is set up in a special format. Headings, lists, tables or graphs are often used to make the information more readable.
    All memos consist of two sections: the heading and the body. The heading indicates who is writing to whom, when, and why. The heading should include the following parts:
    1. To
  •   lists the names of everyone who will receive the memo
  •   includes the first and last name and titles or departments of the
    recipients for formal memos, memos to superiors, or if everyone
    on the list does not know each other
  •   if all recipients know each other’s names and positions, use just
    the first initial and last name of each recipient
  •   can be listed alphabetically or by rank
  •   if it is not possible to fit all the names in the To: area, use the
    phrase “See distribution list”
  •   at the end of the memo add the word “Distribution” and then list
    the names of the people who will receive a copy of the memo
  •   arrange the names by rank, department or alphabetically
    2. From
  •   lists the name of the writer(s) in the same way as the name(s) of the recipient(s)
  •   there is no complimentary close or signature line, but authors initial their names on the From: line
    3. Date
  •   lists the month, date, and year the memo was written
  •   do not use abbreviations
  •   avoid using numbers for months and days

4. Re: or Subject

  •   indicates the main subject of the letter
  •   should be as specific and concise as possible 5. Ccorc
  •   lists those readers who should have a copy of the memo for their information or reference but are not expected to carry out the same action as the recipients listed in the To: line
  •   “cc” can also be placed at the end of the memo below the distribution list (if used)
    The body of the memo conveys the message and generally consists of 4 parts:
    1. Introduction

 states the general problem or main idea
2. Statement of facts
 states the facts or discusses the problem or issue
3. Argument
 explains importance or relevance of facts
4. Conclusion

  •   summarizes the main idea, suggests or requests action
  •   memos do not have a complimentary close or signature line
  •   memos end with a call to action