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BusinessDay

Memorandum

memorandum

A memorandum, often shortened as a memo, is used for official communication usually within an organisation. “Memo” or “memorandum” is a singular noun, whereas the plural form is “memoranda”.

They are used in place of formal letters in the workplace. The memo, among several other functions, is used to present information, provide directions or reminders, give directives or propose an idea.

Notably, memos are classified into two, namely informal and formal memoranda. Informal memoranda are also called internal memoranda. They are short letters written from one member of an organisation to another. Because they are used within an organisation for swift communication, internal memos are usually short. In fact, they are usually shorter than a conventional formal letter. This is why some scholars refer to them as informal memoranda. Despite the brevity of this type of memorandum, it still has a format that must be followed. As such, an internal memo is usually in a table format.

An internal memo bears the name of the organisation or unit within which it is issued. It indicates the originator and the receiver of the memo. It must also contain a reference number. The essence of the reference number which is usually coded is for proper documentation and easy tracing in the event that such a memo gets missing. Moreover, there should be a date on every memo. All of these preliminaries are followed by a title which explains the essence of the memo. This is then followed by the usually succinct message of the memo. Like a formal letter, an internal memo ends with the writer’s name and signature. However, it does not need a closing remark such as “Yours faithfully”.

By comparison, a formal memorandum is usually written to individuals or committees in order to provide them with information or details on certain matters.

This could be the case when a committee set up by the government, regarding a societal issue, calls for contributions, evidence or eyewitness accounts from the general public.

Such a memorandum can come from an individual or an organisation. This kind of memorandum would have a title, introduction, body, conclusion and recommendation(s). It may also present evidence in the form of an appendix and references.

This type of memorandum has two major formats called the letter format and the covering letter format. In the letter format, the memorandum is written like a formal letter with parts such as the writer’s address, the date, the addressee’s address, an opening salutation and a heading.

Unlike the informal memoranda, the formal memoranda end with the usual closing remarks of formal letters. The covering letter format, on the other hand, presents the memo as a self-contained piece beginning with the title and ending with recommendations.

This memo which has the form of an article is then followed by a short formal letter explaining its purpose and giving the details of the writer(s).

Such a short letter is called a covering letter. In the covering letter format, the closing remark and signature can be on the covering letter without necessarily appearing on the memo or full draft.

On top of that, it bears mentioning that an excellent memo should be SMART – that is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Being specific implies that the memo addresses a particular topic.

A measurable memo has its demands clearly spelt out, and it is attainable when such demands are within the reach of the receiver. A memo is equally expected to be time-bound, and that means there should be a duration for the information being conveyed to the receiver.

Further, writers of memos must refrain from deploying informal language because this depicts unprofessionalism. Informal language encompasses words like “anyways” and “alright”, as well as a contraction like “can’t”.

Instead, one should use “anyway”, “all right” and “cannot”, correspondingly. Next, because one does not have the luxury of using too many words, one must be succinct while writing memos.

Then, do not forget to present the crux of your writing in the opening paragraph of the memo even as you coherently break its content down into subsequent paragraphs.

It behoves me to also mention that writers of memos should steer clear of flowery words. Collins Dictionary explains flowery speech or writing as that which contains long or literary words and expressions.

Reas also: Discourse markers in communication

Such linguistic embellishment reduces the quality of academic writing. For instance, a statement such as “I will spice up my argument” is not scholarly. The use of “spice” which gives a culinary effect is of little or no significance to academic writing. Instead, it is apt to say that an argument in academic writing can be “buttressed” or “supported”.

Last but not least, proofreading your write-up is non-negotiable, as errors of commission and omission left unattended could culminate with a breakdown in communication and give you away as clumsy.

Memos are important documents that everyone in the workplace must be able to draft. Commendably, this piece is an exposition on this important subject matter.