MemorandumTo: CBA Students
The first rule of writing a good memo is "Get to the point!" The second rule is "Know what your point is." Before you start writing, be sure that you know what your "answer" is to the boss's or colleague's question. Don't include all your thinking in the memo. While several pages of thinking might get written as you come up with the answer, the memo includes only the answer. Citations, financials, or justifications that must be available to the reader can be added as appendices. The memo should include only those ideas that are required for the reader's action or decision.
This memo is an example of memo format. Note especially the routing information, the use of headings, and the single spaced block paragraphs. If your memo looks like a memo, there's a better chance a business reader will take your ideas seriously. If you are working in a CBA lab, the easiest way to duplicate the proper memo format is to use a template. (Select "new" from the File MENU and select the "memo" tab on the dialogue box.)
The typical memo is only 2 or 3 paragraphs and fits on one page. The first paragraph summarizes the gist of the whole memo, then the main points are covered in the same order they were previewed. Again, this memo provides an example of the typical structure.
A memo is often less formal than a letter but should still be written with a businesslike tone. You can be friendly, but not cute. Your professional image depends on perfect spelling and grammar, but you can usually get away with a few "down home" expressions. Edit for wordiness and get directly to the point. Use language to communicate your ideas effectively and efficiently.