Writing a corporate memo

Business school students often produce exams or other written assignments in an essay style, but in most business situations a memo format is more appropriate. The purpose of this post is to articulate what constitutes an effective memo so that we can replace bad academic writing with good business writing.

The aim of a memo is to quickly inform the reader and explain any decision making. It should be easy to read and have a clear message.

  • The first few sentences should explain the purpose of the memo and any key background information.
  • The use of bullets or numbered lists to split up the text and separate key points is often appropriate.
  • Don’t be afraid to highlight important text.
  • It’s a good idea to finish a memo with a call to action or some other type of positive ending.

We tend to think of memos as an antiquated document but many emails are de facto memos. In fact, I would argue that any email sent to multiple people should be treated as a memo – they are an important part of a manager’s toolkit!

Addendum: Here the thoughts of Scott Adams on business writing (source):

And for a fascinating collection of corporate memos, see https://sriramk.com/memos.

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