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How to Write a Memo [Template, Examples & HubSpotter Tips]


When there’s a significant shift in the business landscape or an important win, it’s important to spread the word. A memo is the best way to get the job done. Unlike an email, your memo will go out to your entire department or everyone at the company. No pressure. (Well, maybe some pressure…)

Before writing a memo, I take some time to hype myself up. This bit of internal communication will be read by my peers, my boss, and likely my boss’ boss. Getting the language right is essential, and every word counts.

In this post, I’ll share my experience writing memos along with tips from my peers at HubSpot. From there, I’ll showcase stellar memo examples and a template to help you create your own. Let’s dive in!

→ Download Now: 4 Free Memo Templates [Free Resource]

Memos are shared to inform readers about new information and have applications for different communities and businesses.

Communities can use memos to tell people within it about public safety guidelines, promote various events, and raise awareness on subjects that affect their lives.

Businesses can use memos to relay information involving newly updated policies, changes in procedure, important milestones, or necessary employee actions, such as attending an upcoming meeting or convention.

I often find myself writing memos when there are significant changes to my program at HubSpot. Perhaps we’re implementing a new workflow, reorganizing the structure of our team, or sharing insights from a project we just completed. Memos denote importance, so I only write them when I have important updates to share that impact multiple stakeholders.

We’ll explore more about when memos are necessary below. But first, let’s discuss how to write a memo.

You can put together a memo in a few short steps. All memos should include the following.

1. Write a heading.

No matter what kind of memo you’re writing, you’ll need to include a heading. This section should include who the memo is for (whether an individual or department), the date, who the memo is from, and a subject line.

Your subject line should be short, attention-grabbing, and give readers a general idea of what the memo is about.

I often pair a main, eye-catching title with a deck below the headline that has more information. For example, if I were writing a post about A.I. in content marketing, I might title it “The Robot Revolution: How A.I. Shapes the Search Landscape.”

Make sure the tone of your title matches the seriousness of the subject matter and your organization’s communication style. A witty opener won’t be right for every memo.

2. Write an introduction.

Remember, you want your memo to be brief and information-packed. Your introduction should be an efficient use of space. It should highlight the issue or problem and the solution you decided to move forward with.

That’s a reality that I personally struggle with. As a writer, I want to include those eloquent phrases and thoughtful transitions that sound great when read aloud. However, I need to take a different approach for memos. My introduction should just summarize the purpose of the memo in two to three sentences.

You can use descriptive language in your intro when it directly relates to the purpose of your memo. Metaphors, similes, and storytelling devices can hook your readers. Kaitlin Milliken, a senior program manager at HubSpot, recalls a memo she created that related to creating a staff made up of subject matter experts.

“I opened with a metaphor about recreational basketball — where people know the rules but don’t have positions they excel in — versus professional basketball where everyone has a specialty,” Milliken says. “I then transitioned into the plays my team was working on to create this pro team.”

When it comes to metaphors, don’t force these comparisons. Only use them where they make sense and when they make your message stronger.

3. Provide background on the issue.

Remember, memos go out to a wide group of employees. Not everyone reading your memo will have the same background that you do as a writer. You’ll need a section to explain any necessary context that folks need to know before going forward.

So, what do you put in? I asked Basha Coleman, one of the best memo writers on my team. Colem is a principal marketing manager on HubSpot’s audience development team.

Coleman says she includes a section at the top of her memos that cover the following:

  • The situation.
  • The impact of the situation.
  • Recommended solutions.

“This gives stakeholders the need-to-know info right away in case they don’t have time to read the whole memo at once,” Coleman says.

Beyond that, I like to link to other important documents that provide context on a topic. That could be a related memo from a different team with more information, a news article that you’re directly responding to, or a relevant dashboard that showcases the issue.

You don’t want this section to be long. However, if folks are interested in learning more, you’ve just given them the power to do so.

The last important tip? Up the urgency. If your memo pitches something new, you want to explain why the change is urgent and the importance of moving now.

“The best way to do this is to explain what we‘re at risk of losing if we don’t take action here,” says Karla Cook Hesterberg, a director of content marketing at HubSpot.

For pitch memos, Hesterberg suggests telling readers why this problem is important/why people should care. For explanatory memos, she recommends explaining what the information in the memo will be used for.

4. Outline action items and timeline (Optional).

Depending on the purpose of your memo, you may have action items for employees to complete or provide a timeline of when changes will take place. For example, they may need to complete a task or provide information by a certain deadline.

This section should include the following:

  • When employees can expect changes to go into effect.
  • What changes have already been made and what to expect in the future.
  • Deadlines they need to adhere to.

When developing a timeline, avoid just creating a paragraph with dates interspersed throughout.

“Don’t be afraid to use visual cues in your memo, like tables, heading colors to display hierarchy of information, charts, and graphs. These can keep a memo brief and skimmable,” suggests Coleman.

Milliken agrees. In a recent memo on building a thought leadership program, she included tables that laid out each step her team would take, more details about what was needed, and when it would occur.

I also included an infographic of a pipeline to show the stages of the project and how long each would take proportionally,” she says. “This makes it easier to visualize a timetable than just skimming chunks of text.”

Here’s a sample table I created to demonstrate.

how to write a memo, table

If no action is needed on the employee’s behalf, you can leave this section out.

5. Justify any reasoning.

If you’re communicating a request or anything new that could ruffle some feathers, you can make your case by offering rationale as to why your announcement or request is so important.

“Think about your target audience and try to anticipate areas where they might ask questions, have concerns, or need more clarity,” says Hesterberg. “Try to re-read as someone who doesn’t have all the context you have to identify areas you need to build up.”

Remember, as the memo writer, you’re an expert on the subject. You may need to ask a manager or a peer to review your memo with a skeptical eye. Where do they have questions? What needs additional justification?

From there, you can strengthen your case. This often includes featuring statistics as to why it’s critical and urgent to make a change.

“Keep in mind that data is super powerful but must be presented in a way that enhances the narrative rather than confusing it,” says Amanda Sellers, a blog strategy manager at HubSpot.

For example, the phrase “58.97% met the benchmark and 10.26% far exceeded the benchmark” is clunky. Instead, Sellers suggests writing, ”Our strategy is working nearly 70% of the time.”

The first example is unwieldy, Sellers notes, referring to methodology that a broader audience is less likely to care about. Meanwhile, “the second audience demonstrates the more important thing: why that methodology was important and what you can take from it,” Sellers explains.

6. Soften any blows (Optional).

If you’re making a big change that could be seen as controversial or making bold statements where people might feel slighted, you can soften this with a well-placed caveat.

For example, with the rise of AI, you might be communicating a new company policy related to using AI. You could soften the blow by sharing that it hasn’t been an issue for most people, but it’s important to have a clear policy in place for handling it.

7. Include a closing statement.

Your closing statement will include any information you’d like to reinforce. Are there any specific contacts readers should reach out to for questions? If so, include them here.

“A conclusion that just reiterates your main points is boring and likely to be skipped,” Millike says. “End on your most compelling points. You can either reassert urgency or discuss the resources you need to be successful.”

Milliken often closes on the support her team requires to find success. That could be additional financial resources, a champion within leadership, or more time to establish the change.

8. Review and proofread before sending.

This step may seem like a no-brainer, but it‘s important to review your document before sending it out. Memos are meant to inform readers of upcoming changes and relay important information. You don’t want to risk causing confusion with a typo or misstatement.

“Memos often have a broad audience, so you’ll want to craft a narrative that is easily understood no matter who is reading it,” says Sellers. “That means telling a persuasive story, getting to the point quickly, anticipating questions, and cutting jargon to find the simplest way of saying something.”

8. Create any audio or video aids.

Once the memo is written, I like to give it one last pass. What would make the message even more clear? Should I work with creative to build an infographic? Should I amplify the document over our email channels? Now that I’ve invested the time, I want to make sure my message is heard.

Coleman often creates a recording with a deck, highlighting the most important points in the document.

“Including video summaries of my memos with Loom is helpful for accessibility and busy stakeholders who like to listen to updates while working on other tasks,” she notes.

Now that you’ve learned what goes into a memo, here’s an easy-to-follow business memo template with examples of how to use them to serve different needs as guidance.

Types of Memos

Now you know how to write a memo, but before you start banging away at your keyboard, it’s helpful to know the types of memos that are out there.

1. Request Memo

In a nutshell, request memos are exactly what they sound like: memos that are designed to make a request and get a positive response. When writing request memos, focus on using persuasive language and, where possible, stats or numbers to highlight why a “yes” is the right answer.

Some sample uses of request memos might be to request a new purchase from your company or authorization for professional learning or volunteer opportunities.

When writing request memos, be clear in your request, state any costs, share why it’s important, and keep emotion and personal feelings out of the request.

2. Informative Memo

You might see these called announcement memos as well, and they make up the bulk of most memos I’ve seen. The goal of informative memos is to communicate new information to your audience. Sample uses of informative memos might include changes in policy, company news, new processes, or even new staff members.

Ultimately, you can think of an informative memo as a clear, concise way to share announcements with your audience and provide any justification necessary for the new information.

3. Confirmation Memo

You can think of confirmation memos as a paper trail to make sure key stakeholders have a record of discussions. Sample uses of confirmation memos are documenting conversations, so you have justification should it ever be called into question, clarifying anything that has ambiguity to avoid misunderstanding down the road.

When writing confirmation memos, specificity and clarity should be your number one goal.

4. Directive Memo

Directive memos are largely self-explanatory. When you need to communicate how to do something to your audience, you might write a directive memo offering detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

Sample uses of directive memos include sharing how to implement a new process, comply with new requirements, or even complete necessary tasks.

When to Write a Memo

As you’ve seen with the types of memos above, most memos are designed to communicate new information. However, memo purposes stretch far and wide.

“Memos serve a variety of purposes, but generally speaking, they either pitch or propose something new, consolidate information into one place for the sake of alignment, or explain or clarify information about a project or program,” says Hesterberg.

You might write a memo in the following scenarios:

  • You have a new policy, and you need to explain it to your audience.
  • Sharing important company updates and information.
  • Announcing new staff members or promotions.
  • Confirming details of a discussion to get everyone on the same page and create a paper trail.
  • Teach or tell people how to do something.
  • Requesting something and justifying why it matters.

There are lots of possibilities out there. In a nutshell, if you have something you need to share, a memo might be the answer.

Business Memo Template

MEMORANDUM

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT:

I’m writing to inform you that [reason for writing memo].

As our company continues to grow … [evidence or reason to support your opening paragraph].

Please let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, I’d appreciate your cooperation as [official business information] takes place.

Business Memo Template Format

The business memo template format is designed to effectively communicate your message. A memo should disseminate the necessary information in a way that is easy for a mass number of employees to digest.

An accurate subject line will alert them that this memo is relevant to them specifically. And beginning with an executive summary allows recipients to understand the general message before they dive deeper into the details. The background information offers context to the message, and the overview and timeline should answer questions that are likely to come up.

Header

In your header, you‘ll want to clearly label your content “Memorandum” so your readers know exactly what they’re receiving. As previously mentioned, you‘ll want to include “TO”, “FROM”, “DATE”, and “SUBJECT”. This information is relevant for providing content, like who you’re addressing and why.

Paragraph One

In the first paragraph, you‘ll want to quickly and clearly state the purpose of your memo. You might begin your sentence with the phrase, “I’m writing to inform you … “ or ”I’m writing to request … “.

A memo is meant to be short, clear, and to the point. You’ll want to deliver your most critical information upfront and then use subsequent paragraphs as opportunities to dive into more detail.

Paragraph Two

In the second paragraph, you‘ll want to provide context or supporting evidence. For instance, let’s say your memo informs the company of an internal reorganization.

If this is the case, paragraph two should say something like, “As our company continues to grow, we’ve decided it makes more sense to separate our video production team from our content team. This way, those teams can focus more on their individual goals.”

Paragraph Three

In the third paragraph, you‘ll want to include your specific request of each employee — if you’re planning a team outing, this is the space you’d include, “Please RSVP with dietary restrictions,” or “Please email me with questions.”

On the contrary, if you‘re informing staff of upcoming construction to the building, you might say, “I’d appreciate your cooperation during this time.” Even if there isn‘t any specific action you expect from employees, it’s helpful to include how you hope they’ll handle the news and whether you expect them to do something in response to the memo.

Downloadable Memo Template

Want to see the above memo format in its final form? Download HubSpot’s free business memo templates, shown below. The document gives you a framework that sorts your memorandum into subtopics to help employees better digest the information and understand what’s expected of them after reading it.

how to write a memo

Download this Template

Memo Examples

Different industries or situations will require slightly different memos. Certain ones will need to be longer or shorter, others may not have a timeline, and some will have extensive background information. The format of your memo should change to fit the message you want your employees to receive.

Launch Delay Memo

how to write a memo example, launch delay

The objective of this memo is to announce that the launch of a product will be delayed. The introduction includes the new date, so a timeline or long overview isn’t necessary. This format of this memo could be applied to other situations where a simple, but important, change is occurring.

What I like: The launch memo provides readers with insight into product launch delays, which can alleviate some frustration that customers or employees may otherwise feel if they were not informed.

Other date changes, promotions, milestones, or product announcements could also utilize this format.

Building Update Memo

how to write a memo example, building update

There are logistical aspects of a business that concern your employees but don’t necessarily involve their work. This memo depicts an example of a kitchen remodel in the office. It’s a bit of an inconvenience but not one of a large magnitude.

What I like: This memo demonstrates a business’s understanding of the impact that renovations can have on employees and shows respect and consideration for their needs.

This memo format could be applied to other building updates, work-from-home days, or other widespread but minor announcements.

Community Memo

how to write a memo example, persuasion

Celebrations, events, theme days, or other fun things for your employees can also be communicated through memos. Community memos like this example are generally shorter because they don’t require much background information or many details.

What I like: This memo has clear directions on where to find the event taking place, something which would’ve been less effective if it only included the floor number.

Memos of this nature should include a summary, date, and location at a minimum.

Persuasion Memo

Persuasion memos are used to encourage readers to take action regarding an event or proposition, like voting or petitioning.

What We Like: This persuasion memo prioritizes giving the reader information to learn on their own and make a decision based on their findings.

The main components of the persuasion memo should include an overview of the task at hand, context to learn more about it, and a call to action that emphasizes the impact the reader can potentially make.

Write Your Memos To the Point

The main difference between a memo and just an email is not the level of complexity. It’s the size of the audience. A memo can be simple or intricate as long as it effectively communicates your message and is relevant to the receiving group of employees. And, the message itself should be clear and concise, no matter which memo format you use.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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