What is a Memorandum?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

As one of the most common forms of communication within an office environment, the memo or memorandum serves as a quick note to convey information from one section of the company to another. It may be drafted by management and addressed to other employees or from a department head to the company at large. Generally, a memo will include a few basic elements, such as the name of the originator of the document, the intended recipient or recipients, the date of issue, the general topic, and the body of the document that contains the information to be shared.

A manager may draft a memorandum on his computer and electronically send it to the company's employees or the entire company.
A manager may draft a memorandum on his computer and electronically send it to the company's employees or the entire company.

There are actually a number of different types of common documents in this style that are employed in the business world. One often used format is referred to as the Memorandum of Understanding. This document is used to define and document the perimeters of a working relationship between two parties. Generally, the body of this note addresses the main reason for the partnership, the anticipated outcome, and the general terms and conditions that will govern the business arrangement. In many cases, it serves as a precursor to a more formal contract.

A Memorandum of Agreement, or MOA, is similar to the Memo of Understanding, in that the document is used to spell out the terms and conditions that will apply to all participants in a joint project. The MOA tends to go into more detail, however, outlining processes and procedure in addition to addressing the general perimeters of the working arrangement.

Private Placement Memoranda are a common communication tool involved in securities offerings. This type is normally addressed to a select number of accredited investors, and includes all pertinent details surrounding the sale of the security, including the final date that the offer will be honored. While not considered a contract, this document is thought to be a more or less firm offer that precludes the actual financial transaction.

The Memorandum of Association is a foundational document for many businesses of all sizes. Commonly referred to as "The Memorandum," it essentially defines the relationship between the company and the outside of the world. The contents touch on the relationship to clients, vendors, and distributors. In addition to defining relationships, it also indicates the amount of shares a company is authorized to issue and the range of operations that the company will engage in the pursuit of profitability.

As a general tool of written communication or as a document with a specific purpose, the memo is a useful tool in just about any business setting that involves two or more parties. Today, they may be issued and stored as an electronic document, as well as in hard copy form.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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@medicchristy: Yes, there are templates available. You can google "memorandum of understanding templates" and several different ones will pop up. There are templates for any kind of memo that you need to do.


I am kind of new to the business world. I need to do a Memorandum of Understanding. Does anyone know if there are templates available for the different types of memos?

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