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Format

Summary:

This handout will help you solve your memo-writing problems by discussing what a memo is, describing the parts of memos, and providing examples and explanations that will make your memos more effective.

The format of a memo follows the general guidelines of business writing. A memo is usually a page or two long, single spaced and left justified. Instead of using indentations to show new paragraphs, skip a line between sentences. Business materials should be concise and easy to read. Therefore it is beneficial to use headings and lists to help the reader pinpoint certain information.

Add Headings: You can help your reader understand your memo better by using headings for the summary and the discussion segments that follow it. Write headings that are short but clarify the content of the segment. For example, instead of using "Summary" for your heading, try "New Advertising Recommendations," which is much more specific. The major headings you choose are the ones that should be incorporated in your purpose-statement in the opening paragraph.

Use Lists: For easy reading, put important points or details into lists rather than paragraphs when possible. This will draw the readers' attention to the section and help the audience remember the information better. Using lists will help you be concise when writing a memo.

Sections: The sections of the memo should be allocated in the following manner:

  • Header: 1/8 of the memo
  • Opening, Context and Task: 1/4 of the memo
  • Summary, Discussion Segment: 1/2 of the memo
  • Closing Segment, Necessary Attachments: 1/8 of the memo

This is a suggested distribution of the material to make writing memos easier. Not all memos will be the same, and the structure can change as you see necessary. Different organizations may have different formatting procedures, so be flexible in adapting your writing skills.

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.