How to Write a Goal-Oriented Memo

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A memo is a succinct collection of information and ideas presented in a specific format.
A memo is a succinct collection of information and ideas presented in a specific format. (Image: memo image by Angie Lingnau from Fotolia.com)

Memos are succinct, specific forms of communication used in universities, attorney offices, and most commonly, in various types of corporations. A successful memo gets across key ideas in an efficient, orderly way with minimal text. This does not mean a memo cannot refer to research or use references. Rather, it does not require as much expository material as, for example, does an essay. The point of a memo is to convey information without taking a lot of time to read copious copy.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Any necessary research or reference material for citation

Writing a Goal-Oriented Memo

Type “MEMORANDUM” as the document title. Then, type four lines that will fill in important, specific information: “Date” “To” “From” and “Subject.” The subject should address the specific issue the memo is about, with a specific information-sharing goal in mind. For example, an effective subject line could be “How to write a goal-oriented memo.”

Write the introduction. The one-paragraph introduction should explain, in a few sentences, what the memo will be about. It should outline the memo’s goal and tell readers what they should expect. Think of it as face-to-face communication, and write clearly, explaining what readers can expect in the following paragraphs.

Write the body of the memo. The body can contain references and research, but it should also include the writer’s interpretation of the presented information. The ideal length is five to six paragraphs. Information should be presented with action verbs, crisp nouns and adverbs and without extraneous words. Use strong transition words and clear, strong punctuation, such as semicolons, colons and dashes. Bullet points and subheads are acceptable to help organize information and make it easier and quicker for the reader to absorb. Use strong topic sentences, supported with several informational sentences, in each paragraph.

Write a conclusion for the memo. The conclusion states the goal-oriented memo’s “bottom line” in clear language. What is the memo about? What is the point of the memo? “This memo is about how to write a goal-oriented memo” would be an example of the topic sentence for the conclusion. A conclusion is not merely a summary, but rather it also includes firm ideas and positions based on the information provided in the body, thus making the memo even more effective.

Type “Attachments” flush left at the bottom of the memo if there are additional materials to support the memo such as charts, spreadsheets or other data. If references are used, a standard bibliographic listing should be included as an attachment to ensure that readers can find that reference themselves.

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