The Art of the Inter-Office Memo

Writing a memo in the office may seem like a simple, straightforward activity, but it’s actually a bit more complex. There are a number of things, like tone, spelling, etc., that can affect the way you are perceived by others. There are also a few “rules” you may want to consider, an etiquette if you will, when writing an inter-office memo. Let’s take a look at some of those guidelines:

Tone: Tone is the emotion or attitude that comes across in your writing. It can be polite, authoritative, passive, etc., and even arrogant and rude. After writing any communication, read over it when you’re done. Be sure you’re coming across in a polite manner and not stepping on anyone’s toes. Try not to sound too authoritative or bossy. Your coworkers will notice.

Spelling: It’s actually very important to use proper spelling and grammar whenever possible. Spell-check programs exist on nearly every email or document program. Correct spelling and grammar not only projects intelligence and professionalism, but it also will cut down on miscommunication and confusion. Again, reading over communications before sending is key. Run spell-check and grammar programs if they’re available to you.

Recipients: Be sure to include all recipients required for the communications. Don’t leave anyone out accidentally, but also don’t include anyone not relevant to the matter at hand. This will also project professionalism and proficiency.

Be specific: When writing a memo, be specific and succinct. Write clearly and directly, addressing the issue and what is required (if anything) from the recipients. If you require a response, be sure to include a statement to that effect. Don’t assume recipients will know what you require. Also, don’t include any information which isn’t necessary to the matter. Doing so will only waste your time and the time of your coworkers.

Limit personal material: Ending with a personal favorite quote as a “signature” is fine, but attaching pictures of family or pets isn’t exactly professional. Keep personal material to a minimum. There’s a time and place for everything, but memos aren’t the place for sharing personal details of your life.

Writing a memo can be a very telling and important aspect of your office career. Being professional in your communication projects your own attitude toward your work and your coworkers. Take it seriously and you will be taken seriously in return. In addition, your own memo-writing will be an example to your coworkers and the professionalism will spread throughout the office. See how important professional memo-writing can be?