Whether you need to bring something to another person's attention, provide news or guidelines on a company policy, or are trying to get something done and delivered to you, you need to send a memo about it. You can't afford to be wordy. Neither you nor the receiving party has the time to waste. When you keep correspondence concise, you increase the chances that your text will actually be read!


When to Send a Memo

  • If you want to track a project or a developing situation. Anything that requires a paper trail of any sort, or will be going into a file, should be done in hard copy. In this way, you may also collect signatures, initials, or other notations that help you in your tracking and provide clear-cut evidence of the status of your project.
  • If you're providing guidelines or procedures for informational purposes. This sort of memo tends to be somewhat more detailed. The receiver may choose to post it for reference or photocopy it and share it with others.
  • If you're summarizing a conversation or incident, emphasizing an important point of discussion, or making an announcement. Especially if the discussion was an important one, the document is probably something that will go into a file; therefore, a hard copy adds formality.
  • If you're drawing attention to an issue that needs resolution. Personal choice: If the memo is going out to a number of people, the hard copy is probably best. If you are directing it toward one particular person and you want to keep it private, then you might find e-mail to be more effective.


Some Valuable Pointers

Some pointers will apply to any memo that you may write. Following are just a few to bear in mind:

Put the main message of your memo at the very beginning; then elaborate or explain, but briefly.

  • When your memo's message is of crucial importance, don't hesitate to emphasize or even repeat your primary point in the last paragraph or last line.
  • Provide relevant information, for example, where certain forms might be obtained, or whom to contact for questions or further information.
  • When naming a specific person or department as a contact point, be sure to include a phone extension or room number (or both).
  • Provide explanations when they're called for - i.e., why it is necessary to carry out a particular task, or the reasons one must complete certain forms, etc.
  • Be specific about what you want or need. For example, when asking for a certain piece of documentation or information, describe exactly what is needed so there can be no doubt in the mind of the memo's receiver.
  • When providing guidelines or explaining a policy, don't get into too much detail; just summarize the most important points, then indicate where further information may be obtained.
  • When describing a meeting or incident, provide a detailed (but brief) history of what occurred.
  • State clearly when something of importance has been attached to a  memo; it may become separated in transit, therefore it's safer to note the attachment.


Example 1 - Proper protocol for incoming phone calls

Re: Telephone protocol

There have been some complaints received about the way our telephones are answered. Since we have no receptionist or telephone operator, we all need to pitch in to observe proper phone etiquette:

  • When your phone rings, answer politely, saying the company name, then your name. Don't bark into the phone. Don't rush when you speak and be sure to enunciate your words.
  • If the call is not for you, take the time to look up the correct extension and to let the caller know what it is. Then transfer the call. Do not expect the caller to hang up and dial again.
  • Keep the tone of your voice friendly at all times. Yes, you may be busy and don't want to be interrupted; but the caller doesn't know that. Remember that you're a company representative and should be polite to all callers, no matter what.


Thank you for making the effort to be courteous and "telephone smart."


Example 2 - Dress code policies

Re: Dress code
Yes, we do have a dress code! And no, this does not mean you can't wear what you want. The company dress code is intended merely to provide guidelines for proper business attire, to ensure a neat and professional appearance on the part of all employees.
Complete guidelines on dressing for professional success are available in the Human Resources Office. Here are just a few tips:
For men: Conservative business suit, with tie. White or pastel colours are preferred for shirts. Try to avoid excessive use of jewellery. No jeans, shorts, sandals, or other very casual attire, with exceptions noted for Casual Dress Day.
For women: Simple business suit or dress, or tailored pants with blouse/jacket. Scarves and jewellery for accent are perfectly acceptable, but do not over-do. No jeans, shorts, tank tops, etc. Some exceptions noted for Casual Dress Day.


Example 3 - Announcing a promotion

Re: Our new Vice President
It is a pleasure to share the good news that Anne Kimble has accepted a promotion to the position of Vice President of Marketing. Anne starts her new responsibilities effective immediately.
Anne has been a long time valued employee whose contributions to the growth of our marketing and advertising efforts are well known to you all. She played a key role in the 65 percent jump in sales we experienced in the past year. Her promotion is highly deserved, and we know she will help to take our company to even greater heights. Please join me in congratulating Anne on her new position!


Example 4 - Employee grievance procedure

Re: Employee grievance procedure
Due to recent events, it has become necessary to clarify the procedure when employees wish to register a work-related complaint or grievance.
It is important for all employees to remember that they should not bring their grievance to anybody but their immediate supervisor; or, if the complaint has to do with their supervisor, to the person immediately in charge in the department. The supervisor or manager should then report it to his or her superior, as well as to Human Resources (if deemed necessary) for review, investigation and resolution.
Records of all grievances should be kept scrupulously. Document everything, and follow up to ensure that the grievance is getting a response. If the problem is resolved to the employee's satisfaction, summarize it in a memo for the file and have him/her sign it.
Complete information on the employee grievance procedure is available in Human Resources. If you have any questions, see Mary Beth Edelson in Room 509.


Example 5 - Coffee and lunch breaks: time lengths allowed

Re: Breaks
Coffee breaks and lunch breaks—they're a great time to rest and relax and socialize with our co-workers. We all need the occasional break. However, if they go on too long, then we are losing precious time that should be spent on our jobs.
As a reminder, you are allowed two coffee breaks of 15 minutes each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You are also allowed a lunch break of not longer than 30 minutes. Should you need additional time during your lunch break, you must clear it with your supervisor first.
Please act responsibly. Do not take breaks that go beyond the allowable limits.


Example 6 - Guidelines for completing evaluation forms

Re: Performance reviews: New forms
In response to feedback from managers and supervisors, we have recently revamped the evaluation form for employee performance reviews. Attached is a sample for your information, with key sections highlighted. Note:

  • You must supply the Employee Identification Number, along with other personal data on the front of the form.
  • Indicate the period of time for which the employee is being evaluated.
  • For each area being evaluated, rate the employee on a scale of 1 (excellent) to 5 (poor). If the employee is not being evaluated in a particular area, write "N/A" in that box. Provide an overall evaluation at the end of the form.
  • Please explain the reason for your rating in as much detail as possible.
  • Review the evaluation with the employee and have him or her add any comments, then sign and date the form.
  • Be sure to include your recommendation for a salary increase in the box at the end.


If you have any questions about the form or procedure, call Jim or Mary in the Human Resources Office



The Key Forms of Business Writing: Basic Memo




Nouns (imenice):Verbs (glagoli):
attention - pažnja
guideline - smernica, savet
company policy - politika kompanije
receiving party - strana koja prima
correspondence - korespodencija, prepiska
paper trail - pisani trag
file - arhiva, dokument
hard copy - štampani primerak
evidence - dokaz
receiver - primalac
reference - preporuka, referenca
incident - događaj
formality - formalnost
issue - pitanje, problem, stavka
resolution - rešenje
choice - izbor
form - formular
further information - dodatne informacije
phone extension - lokal (telefonski)
task - zadatak
attachment - dodatak
bring something to someone's attention - privući nekome pažnju na nešto
deliver - dostaviti
afford - priuštiti
waste time - traćiti, gubiti vreme
increase - povećati
track a project - pratiti projekat
require - zahtevati
provide - obezbediti
tend to - težiti
post - poslati
emphasize - naglasiti, istaći
make announcement - najaviti, objaviti
draw attention - privući pažnju
bear in mind - imati na umu
elaborate - razraditi
hesitate - oklevati
obtain - dobiti
carry out - izvršiti
summarize - sumirati
indicate - naznačiti
note - pomenuti
Adjectives and adverbs
(pridevi i prilozi):
Prepositions and conjunctions
(predlozi i veznici):
wordy - koji previše govori
concise - koncizan, sažet
clear-cut - nedvosmislen
valuable - vredan, dragocen
crucial - presudan, najvažniji
relevant - važan
specific - određen
brief - kratak
clearly - jasno
attached - priloženo, dodato, prikačeno




Nouns (imenice):Verbs (glagoli):
attention – care, support, looking after
guideline – recommendation, advice, suggestion
correspondence – communication, writing, contact
file – record, document
evidence – proof, verification
receiver – recipient
reference – recommendation
incident – happening, event, occasion
issue – question, matter, problem, subject
resolution – solution, settlement, outcome
choice – selection, option
form – document, paper, sheet, questionnaire
task – assignment
deliver – give, provide
afford – have the money for, manage, bear, pay for, spare, stand
waste time – dawdle, idle
increase – raise
require – need, demand, involve
provide – supply, give, distribute
tend to – strive, aspire
post – send, mail
emphasize – highlight, stress, accent
make announcement – make known, tell, declare, publish
bear in mind – remember
elaborate – develop, improve, enhance
hesitate – be reluctant, be unwilling, demur
obtain – get, gain, acquire, attain, accomplish
carry out – put into practice, follow, obey, accomplish
summarize – sum up, resume, review
indicate – show, suggest, display
note – mention, indicate
Adjectives and adverbs
(pridevi i prilozi):
Prepositions and conjunctions
(predlozi i veznici):
wordy – long–winded, verbose, tedious, windy
concise – brief, short
clear–cut – straightforward, precise, explicit
valuable – useful, important, helpful, worthy, precious
crucial – vital, important, essential
relevant – significant, appropriate
specific – particular,special, characteristic, distinguishing
brief – short, concise, quick
clearly – understandably, distinctly, openly



Nouns (imenice):Verbs (glagoli):

attention - unconcern, negligence, carelessness

evidence - disproof

receiver - giver

formality - informality

resolution - problem, trouble, irresolution

task - inactivity

deliver - maintain, withhold

afford - refuse, reject, deny

increase - decrease, decline, drop

require -  retain, forbid, interdict

provide - disapprove, deny, disallow, withhold

post - withhold

bear in mind - forget

hesitate - persist, continue

obtain - transmit, consign, transfer

carry out - fail, neglect

summarize - expand, add

indicate - refuse, conceal, deny

note - ignore, neglect, overlook, disregard

Adjectives and adverbs
(pridevi i prilozi):
Prepositions and conjunctions
(predlozi i veznici):

wordy - uncommunicative, reserved

concise - thorough, detailed

clear-cut - delicate

valuable - useless, negligible, unworthy

crucial -noncrucial, nonessential

relevant - irrelevant, improper, incorrect

specific - unclear, unspecified

brief - unlimited, extended, countless

clearly - ununderstandably, scarcely, unintelligibly

attached - unattached

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