Unit 5 MEMO WRITING , , , . (, 55:6)


The memorandum or memo has been borrowed from the practice of military correspondence. It is the most common form of written communication in business and industry. Until recent times, its use has been restricted to interoffice, interdepartmental or interorganizational communications. However, it is now being circulated with greater frequency out of the originating organization.

Memos solve problems either by informing the reader  about new information, like policy changes, price increases, etc., or by persuading the reader to take an action, such as attend a meeting, use paper, or change a current production procedure. Regardless of the specific goal, memos are most effective when they connect the purpose of the writer with the interests and needs of the reader.

The primary purpose of the memo is to save time for both the reader and the writer. The reader is given direct, concise information and facts, with conclusions and recommendations (as appropriate) to provide clear but ample background to arrive at a proper decision and necessary action.

Standard memos are divided into segments to organize the information and to help achieve the writers purpose. The are: a) Heading Segment; b) Opening Segment; c) Summary Segment; d) Discussion Segments; e) Closing Segment; f) Necessary Attachments. A memorandum needs no return address, inside address, salutation and complimentary closing.

The heading segment follows this general format:

To: (readers names and job titles)

FROM: (your name and job title)

DATE: (complete and current date)

SUBJECT: (what the memo is about, highlighted in some way.

The purpose of a memo is usually found in the opening paragraphs and is presented in three parts: the context and problem, the specific assignment or task, and the purpose of the memo.

If your memo is longer than a page, you may want to include a separate summary segment. This segment provides a brief  statement of the key recommendations you have reached. This will help your reader to understand the key points of the memo immediately.

The discussion segments are where you get to throw in all the juicy detailed information that you gave gathered to support your ideas.

You are almost done. After the reader has absorbed all of your information, you want to close with a courteous  ending that states what action you want your reader to take.

Make sure you document your findings or provide detailed information whenever necessary. You can do this by attaching lists, graphs, tables, etc. at the end of your memo.


To: Board of Directors

From: Thomas H. Duley

Date: December 15, 1998

Subject: Financial Report for November


Net earnings for the month of November were $12.4 million or $56 a share compared with $13.8 million or $63 a share a year ago. Net earnings for the eleven months ending November 30 were $125.0 million or $5.60 a share. That was an improvement of 124.6 percent over the $55.7 million or $2.26 a share for the comparable period last year.

Net interest income continues to make substantial improvements, up $17.7 million for the month of November and $181,0 million for the eleven-month period. In addition, the following significant items affected earning:

- Earnings for the month of November included $2.2. million from the sale of loans and investments, an amount well below the $8.5 million for November of last year.

- The interest rate spread was 2.52 percent for the month of November and remained at 2.45 percent for the eleven-month period - an increase of 72 basis points over the 1.73 percent for the prior comparable period.

- The insurance subsidiary contributed net earnings of $1.4 million for the month and $12.5 million for the year to date with both figures more than double the totals of last year.

Shareholders equity was $1.015 million at November 30.

Additional information will be presented at the December board meeting.


originating organization

concise information

ample background



separate summary segment

courteous [`kE:tSqs] ending

to document the findings

net earnings


to go shares

comparable period

net interest income



To arrive at a proper decision and necessary action

ij 䳿

To throw in all the juicy detailed information


1.   How do the memos solve problems?

2.   When are the memos most effective?

3.   What is the primary purpose of the memo?

4.   Why do you divide the memo into segments?

5.   What are the standard memo segments?

6.   What is the general format of the heading segment?

7.   How is the purpose of a memo presented?


Ex. 1

The memorandum below was written by an employee in a company which provides seeds for agricultural purposes. Read it and decide on the writers aim. Then decide which of the following is the most suitable subject heading for the memo.

1.   How We Can Improve our Methods of Storage for Seed Potatoes

2.   Improvements in Methods of Storage for Seed Potatoes

3.   Seed Potatoes

At certain times of the year, large quantities of seed potatoes are kept for up to several months in Stores 3 and 4. They are stored in clamps and covered by dried seaweed, hay and straw.


Several problems are regularly encountered with this method, the most important of which are weight loss and sprouting. These two factors alone have caused the loss of 14 tons of  seed potatoes in the last year.


Research currently being carried out in the United States suggests that these problems could be resolved by adopting alternative storage methods, the extra cost of which would be only 15% of the loss currently incurred. (A detailed description of this research is attached.)


It is therefore recommended that a pilot scheme should be set  up to evaluate these methods and if this is successful, that they should be adopted.


Your approval would be appreciated.


Ex. 2

In the following memo, the development section has been omitted. The missing information is given below, but in the wrong order.

Reorganize the missing information in a logical sequence. Put the sentences a) to h) in the right order.



TO:                    Stores Supervisor                   REF: 5P/162/3

FROM:             Main Workshop Supervisor    DATE: 17.9.98

SUBJECT:       Wrongly Supplied Spare Part


This memo refers to your Item No. 3 on the Air Cargo Manifest for Flight BA61 on 14.9.98.


You are therefore requested to take the necessary action concerning this incident and arrange to send us correct item without delay.

It is hoped that such errors can be avoided in future.

Missing Information

1.   On receipt o f the item, it was found to be a liner instead of a complete cylinder head.

2.   Repairs to an essential company vehicle were delayed.

3.   It was discovered that no local supplier stocks a similar part.

4.   This special item was ordered urgently on our material issue voucher dated 8.9.98.

5.   The vehicle still awaits repair and is unavailable for use.

6.   On 16.9.98, attempts were made to obtain a temporary alternative part from local suppliers.

7.   The item was fully described as a complete cylinder head (Part No. 631461) on the voucher.

8.   Company operations have been seriously affected.

Ex. 3

In the following memorandum, the paragraphs are in the wrong sequence.

Put them in the correct order. In addition, supply a suitable subject heading.


TO:        All Heads of Department                      REF: CP15

FROM:   Personnel Manager                              DATE: 3/1/98


1.       The practice of random parking is not only a nuisance to the general public, but also impedes deliveries to the plant. Most serious of all, it could hinder or even prevent fire engines and ambulances from reaching the scene of an emergency.

2.       Therefore, all Departmental Heads are urgently requested to remind their staff to use the official car parks and to inform them that, as from 10.1.98, cars parked elsewhere will be towed away at the owners expense.

3.       It has been brought to my notice that many employees are failing to use the car parks provided by the company. Instead, they are parking around the perimeter of the premises, on access roads and outside the main gates.

Ex. 4

The conclusions of the following memos have been removed. Read through the memos and then complete them. If they have been well written, you will find that you will have no doubt about what the conclusions should be. (If you have the opportunity, compare your conclusions with those of other students doing this exercise).

4.       Circular


Urgent Delivery of Materials


It has been noted recently that some departments send their materials to R and D for urgent on forwarding extremely late in the day, i.e. shortly before this section closes at 16.00hours.


This practice inevitably causes delays in the dispatch of these materials, due to insufficient time for the necessary  packing and arrangements of transport. This process takes approximately one hour.


Therefore in order to ensure that materials can be receive d and dispatched on the same day, it is recommended that





NOTE: R and D: Receipt and Dispatch Section

On forwarding: sending materials on to other destinations





TO:        Stores Supervisor                     REF: AF/134

FROM:   GS, Engineering Services          DATE: 28.8.98

SUBJECT:         Delivery of Cylinder Heads, 22.8.98


On close inspection of the consignment of cylinder heads recently delivered to us under Indent No. 1654, it was discovered that 5 of them were severely pitted.


The consignment appeared to be properly packed, and there was no evidence of damage to the container. Furthermore, the remaining 5 pieces in the container were in perfect condition.


It would therefore be appreciated of you could





NOTE: The cylinder heads were pitted means their surface was full of small holes




Logical content

If the introduction and development sections have been constructed effectively, then the conclusion of a memo should be extremely easy to write. In fact, by the time that this stage is reached, the conclusions of the memo should by obvious, and the reader should have a very good idea in advance of what this final section is going to contain. If the conclusion holds any surprises for the reader, then the previous sections of the memo were in some way faulty.

Text 1 is a good example of a memo. It deals with only one topic. The introduction immediately describes the background situation, and the development makes the message totally clear. Your conclusion will therefore read something like this:

... it is recommended that materials for urgent on forwarding should arrive at R and D well before 1500.

In Text 2, on the other hand, the conclusion of the memo is not immediately clear. It could either be a general one:

It would therefore be appreciated if you could ensure that all materials are properly checked before being issued.

Or it could be more specific:

It would therefore be appreciated if you could immediately replace the five damaged pieces.

Indeed, it could be a combination of these conclusions, and yet other conclusions might also be possible. Clearly, the writer of Text 2 is less successful at controlling the information in his memo.



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