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How to Write an Effective Memo
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(abbreviation of the word: Memorandum)

Permanent availability has led to a permanent flow of information. We used to put a post-it sticker on someone’s monitor or keyboard, or left a hand written note on someone’s desk in the past. Nowadays, we send short text messages (SMS) or emails. When a number of colleagues in companies had to be informed, we sent memos through the internal distribution system.


Common phrases you will hear and read are probably:

“I’ve sent you a message.”

“I’ll send you a text.” | “I texted you … .”

“Have you seen the memo from HR this morning?”

“Can you drop me a note on my mobile [when …] ?”

“I found this sticker on my screen …”

“He left me a note on my desk.”

“You’d better write a memo to the all team members about [it] …?”


The header of a classic ancient (paper based) memorandum looks like this:


MEMORANDUM   (title)

TO:    (distribution line, circulation list)

FROM:     (author)

SUBJECT:    (subject line)



Dear all, it has come to my attention that …..     ← (text body)

On post-it stickers and in sms messages (“short text messages”) you won’t find a header of course, for obvious reasons, but in emails and written memos they are still common in this standard way.



The Tone:

The tone in memos is friendly to neutral, depending on the subject and who it is addressed to.


The Length:

The less space and the more familiar you are with the recipient, the shorter the text. Sometimes it may consist of just one word “Thanks!” or even the abbreviation “Thx”. The most useful abbreviations in this connection are perhaps:

asap = as soon as possible

Best. = Best regards (please not the point “.” behind the word)

FIY = for your information

FYEO = (for your eyes only = secret!)

JIC = just in case

K = thousand

pls = please

pto = please turn over (= read the back page)

Rgds = Regards

RSVP = respond please (comes from the French: “répondez s’il vous plaît”)

Thx = Thanks

which you could use even in a neutral or formal memo. A more comprehensive list of abbreviations is added here: full list of abbreviations


One Word Comments:

approvedbestätigt | genehmigtapprouvéapprovato | aprobadogoedgekeurdaprobado | confirmado
act nowsofortimmédiatementsubitometeeninmediatamente
call meruf mich anappelle-moiChiamamibel mijLlámame
RegardsGrüßeCordialement | Salutations SalutigroetenSaludos
well donegut, gut gemacht, klasse!bien!molto benegoed gedaan!bien!


Our Recommendations:


–  The memo style is only recommended for

  • internal communication (inside the company/group), or
  • communication with people you are close to (friends, colleagues, business friends)

–  If possible you should still greet the person/people:

On a post-it sticker for example:


In our opinion it still makes a difference.

–  further recommendations:

  • Be specific. – Make sure that the topic is relevant to all the people you are sending it to, and choose your recipients wisely. Don’t become a spammer with too many messages and too much information.
  • Be clear. – Find a strong subject line to put every one in the picture immediately. With the subject line you create expectations, and you will have to deliver on them later on.
  • Be short.– Better add further information as an attachment rather than making the text too long.
  • Find the right tone. (as already described above)
  • Proofread your text. -Typos (mistakes when writing happen to all of us, and still, repeated typos in texts give the impression that you did not put much effort into it.)
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