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The Complete Guide To Writing Corporate Memos, by Vickie Elmer, Quartz Blog


A recent all-staff internal memo from two senior Yahoo executives addressed its readers as ‘pilgrim,’ then ‘sailor,’ and mentioned ‘T-Rex,’ ‘The Itsy-Bitsy Pterodactyl,’ the ‘hippocampian wagons’ and ‘Ayn Randian Objectivism’ all in one paragraph.

That widely ridiculed email served as a reminder that internal memos matter as much as any marketing brochure or press release—especially given how likely they are these days to leak online. ‘What we write in memo form is going to become our business persona,’ says Sandra Lamb, author of How to Write It.

That persona could be someone who speaks in jargon and ‘stilted business-school gobbledygook’—as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer did in a memo announcing leadership changes. It could be brutally matter-of-fact, as former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was in a wake-up call to staff. Or it could be funny and enduringly honest, as Groupon CEO Andrew Mason was when he announced his resignation. Here are some tips to ensure that your memo is clear, effective, and memorable—for the right reasons. . . .