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Communicating via Memorandum or Letter

Memoranda and Letters

A Memorandum or memo is a form of reminder for an organization’s employees. It includes the official policies, methodologies and other business-related practices. It is a mass-communication tool, which is used to convey a specific message to all involved personnel collectively. It saves the management’s time by excluding the need of vis-à-vis interpersonal interactions.
It is also used to keep a group updated about the upcoming projects, deadlines, events, meetings etc.

The Purpose of a Memo – Every company has several networks for conveying formal and informal information. A memo is generally used to notify the employees of a specific objective. However, it may sometimes also include persuasive sections that require a call-to-action.

Memo Format – A typical memo includes six parts:

  • Header: A header is used to specify the sender and intended recipients of the message.
  • Date: It indicates the date on which memo is prepared.
  • Subject Line: It summarizes the purpose of the memo.
  • Declaration: It is used to proclaim the main point of discussion.
  • Discussion: It is the detailed section where the major concerns of the topic are stated.
  • Summary: It is the conclusion of the topic, which indicates the desired expectation or required call-to-action.

Tips for Making Effective Business Memos

  • Envision your Audience: Always keep your audience, their role and needs in mind while drafting a memo.
  • Be Professional: Always use a formal tone to show professionalism.
  • Highlight the subject: The subject must be crisp and concise to indicate the purpose transparently.
  • Use Direct Format: All memos must be direct. There is no pace for ambiguity in memos. The purpose and concerns must be stated clearly.
  • Be Objective: Since memos are typically used to state facts or directions, it is crucial to use only objective tone without any indication of partiality.

Letters

Letters are short messages that meant for receivers who are not a part of the organization. A typical letter contains five main sections that include fifteen components in total. These components are as follows:

  • Return Address: It indicates the sender’s address where the recipients could reach him/her if needed. A return address is not required, in case, the letter includes a letterhead. This is because a letterhead denotes the organization’s address in either of the two sections called header and footer.
    • Header: It is a note on top of the page.
    • Footer: It is a note on the bottom of the page.
  • Date: It indicates the date the letter is written. It must be placed five lines above the letterhead logo or the page. It can be right justified or left justified.
  • Reference: This is the part of the letter where you describe the subject or the purpose of the letter.
  • Delivery: It indicates the mode of delivery. For example, you may have seen ‘certified mail’ specially mentioned in the letter. It is not required for all letters. However, some types of documents may have a legal requirement to notify the recipient of the mode of delivery.
  • Recipient Note: This is the space to notify the recipient of the nature of the letter. For example, personal, official, or confidential.
  • Salutation: This is a brief sentence to greet the recipient.
  • Introduction: This is the opening paragraph of the letter. It may include a captivating expression or catchphrase, an introductory statement about the sender or the topic itself, state the reason for sending the letter. It is crucial to use an emphatic opening because it is the first thing that readers pay attention to. It is the part where the reader decided whether he/she wants to continue reading the letter or not. A clear and direct opening clarifies the context of the letter and establishes connection.
  • Body: It is the part of the letter where you describe your concerns or points in detail. It may include certain facts, information, a series of questions etc. The use of numerical lists or bullet points can make the body more effective. This is because readers often skim through the letter to save time. A well-organized letter body ensures that the readers do not miss the important points you wish to convey. The points must also be crisp and concise without losing their efficacy, relevancy, meaning and/or context.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion connects the introductory statement and the key points of the letter to exhibit their relationship. Its objective is to remind the reader of your purpose. The conclusion must not include any new information but simply summarize your letter in an effective way. In case you want the reader to take a particular action, you must clearly indicate the desired intent.
  • Closing line: The closing line is used to thank the reader for his/her time and to invite him/ her to connect with you directly in case he/ she has any queries concerning your letter or needs any clarification.
  • The final part of the letter includes:
    • Signature
    • Preparation Line
    • Enclosure/Attachments
    • Courtesy Copies
    • Logo/Contact Information

Strategies for Writing Effective Letters

The key to writing an effective letter is to remember that it portrays yours and your company’s stature and values. It must be written in a way that it presents a positive image. Here a few tips to follow for writing an impressive letter:

  • It must be clear and to-the-point.
  • The language used must be considerate and respectful.
  • The purpose of your letter must be indicated transparently.
  • Each paragraph must support one idea.
  • All parts of the letter must be related and converge into conclusion.
  • The letter should be proofread to avoid any errors.

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