Date: May 21, 2016
Cc: The Internet
Re: National Memo Day
Back in the day, I used to come to work early so I could get through the memos that were delivered to my inbox. This was before the age of office automation and computers. Each desk was supplied with a typewriter and a physical stack of metal trays. The trays included a holding box, an outbox, and an inbox.
A big problem was that the manager was confused about what a memorandum was and what should have been miscellaneous private routing. I needed to sort through the daily stack of onionskin carbon copies of company policy memos from the fyi remininsces, casual reflections about current events, and political fodder from the Republican Party. The boss seemed unaware of how much company time was wasted by employees having to skim documents and sort through stacks of paper in order to find the essential nuggets we actually needed to know.
On the average day, there might be only one or two bonafide memos. Once they were found, we could usually digest the content quickly then go about our duties. If a reply was required, a note could be typed or hand printed on a standard office memo form. Memos that were read and any replies were placed in the outbox for internal office mail. If the memo was important, carbon copies of the memo and reply were filed away for future reference.
As you can imagine, having to skim through stacks of irrelevant paper, which frequently included radical political diatribes, was a terrible way to begin each workday. After the manager retired, the inter-office memo policy was streamlined and became more relevant to the actual needs of running the business.
Actual paper memos are still in use by corporate and governmental offices. They are most useful when text messages or e-mails are not suitable. Physical memos are necessary when office or agency policy is stated for legal reasons. Memos are also useful as a covering message to attach to books or documents that need to be signed. The memo is used to explain what the recipient is supposed to do.
The word “memo” is the abbreviation of the word “memorandum”. It is derived from the Latin term which means, “It must be remembered that….” Strictly speaking, a memo is a short document that aids the memory by recording relevant observations and events. Memos have particular formats that are usually style specific to agencies, companies, or other institutions. Nowadays, memos often arrive in e-mails.
National Memo Day is an unofficial commemoration of memoranda. This is a good time to read, write, and send memos. Remember to keep memos brief and to the point.
Thank you for reading.