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


A memo is the best way to share news when you have a significant update or important win within your company.

Unlike an email, your memo will go out to your entire department or everyone at the company, so knowing how to format a memo is just as important as what you write. 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’s boss. Getting the language right is essential, and every word counts.

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

What is a memo?

How to Write a Memo

Types of Memos

When to Write a Memo

Best Practices for Formatting a Memo

Business Memo Template

Memo Examples

→ 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.

Below, we’ll explore when memos are necessary. But first, let’s discuss how to write a memo.

You can put together a memo in a few short steps. To give you an idea of how each step is formatted, I’ll write an example memo and break it down for each step. My example memo will be an internal announcement for a writing training session.

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.

“The headings you use should be descriptive enough that your readers can infer what they’ll get in each section,” suggests Kaitlin Milliken, senior program manager at HubSpot. “Cut the cute language and keep your headings very tactical.”

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.

Testing It Out

Here’s how this would look for my example memo about a writing training session:

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.

“The beginning of any memo should state a clear purpose of what the memo will cover,” says Karla Hesterberg, director of content marketing at HubSpot. “Depending on the subject, this could be as simple as an overview of a statement that establishes the need for a new investment. The more simple and straightforward, the better.”

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 to writing memos.

My introduction should just summarize the purpose of the memo in two to three sentences.

Testing It Out

Using Hesterberg’s tip, here’s how I’d write the introduction for my memo:

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. Coleman 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.

Testing It Out

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.”

Testing It Out

Here’s a sample table I created to demonstrate.

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 a 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 a 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.

Testing It Out

To justify the importance of the quarterly writing training session, especially in conjunction with AI tools, I’d add this data point in my memo:

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.

Testing It Out

Let’s say my memo took a different position regarding AI for writing. Here’s how I’d format my memo to soften the blow:

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,” Milliken 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.

Testing It Out

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.”

Testing It Out

Ask a coworker to review your memo or use an editing tool like Grammarly or Hemingway to review and proofread.

Here’s an example of Grammarly editing my memo and making suggestions for improvement:

9. 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.

10. Communicate urgency (if necessary).

The last important tip? Up the urgency. If your memo pitches something new or timely, 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 Hesterberg.

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

Testing It Out

Here’s how I’d add urgency to my memo about the training session:

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.

Best Practices for Formatting a Memo

Now that you know when to write a memo, what types of memos there are, and what elements to include in your memo, I have a few parting tips. To sum it up, here are a few best practices for formatting a memo.

Cater to your audience.

Before you start writing your memo, consider who your audience is. Understanding who will read your memo will help you tailor your message, tone, and CTA for that audience.

Pamela Bump, head of content growth at HubSpot, suggests considering the following questions.

“Are the leaders you’re writing for busy executives who want a quick one-pager focused on the most need-to-know information?” she says. “Or are the readers more inquisitive and interested in soaking in all the information they can get?”

Make it skimmable.

HubSpot’s Kaitlin Milliken recalls a time when she wrote a memo that wasn’t skimmable.

“When I was asked to write my first memo, I created a document with huge walls of text,” she says. “My manager gave me great feedback, encouraging me to use charts and graphs throughout the document. That makes total sense to me now. No one wants to read a huge string of lengthy paragraphs, but they’ll definitely skim a table.”

To make your memo easier to read, use headings and separate paragraphs to break up new thoughts or talking points. You can also add tables and graphs to create a visual break when it makes sense.

Milliken adds, “Bullet points are your friend. They create breaking points throughout your document and keep information easy to digest.”

Be mindful of length.

The length of your memo depends on the type you’re writing. Generally speaking, a memo is one or two paragraphs long. But the length can vary if you’re writing an informative memo versus a request memo.

If your audience is interested in learning, an informative memo can provide more detail, while a request memo should be brief and to the point.

“If you’re unsure, go for a shorter 1-2 page document, but link it to another page or dashboard with further data, context, or information that they can dig into if they choose,” Bump suggests.

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.

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 you don’t expect any specific action 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.

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

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

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

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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