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Circular vs. Memo: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 16, 2023
A circular is a document distributed to a wide audience for general information, while a memo (memorandum) is a concise written communication typically used within an organization for specific information.

Key Differences

Circulars are often used to announce policies, events, or general information to a broad audience. They are typically intended for public or large internal distribution. Memos, on the other hand, are internal documents used within an organization to communicate specific information, directives, or requests between employees or departments.
The format of a circular is usually formal and can be sent to individuals both inside and outside the organization. It often covers topics that are of general interest or importance. In contrast, a memo is a more informal way of internal communication, primarily used for brief updates, instructions, or announcements within an organization.
Circulars are designed to be informative and may not require immediate action or response. They are often used for widespread communication. Conversely, memos are action-oriented or informative but are intended for a specific group of recipients within an organization, often prompting a response or action.
In terms of content, circulars may include detailed information about a policy, event, or announcement that is relevant to a wide audience. Memos, however, are usually concise and focus on a single subject, providing essential information required for the recipients to perform certain tasks or be informed about specific organizational matters.
The distribution method also differentiates between the two. Circulars can be distributed via email, posted on notice boards, or sent through mail to a large number of recipients. Memos, however, are typically distributed through internal channels within an organization, such as email, internal mail systems, or posted on internal digital platforms.

Comparison Chart


General information to a broad audience
Specific information within an organization


Formal, for public or large internal audience
Informal, internal communication


Informative, often detailed
Concise, focused on a single subject


Wide, external and internal
Internal, within organization

Typical Response

Often informational, no immediate action needed
Action-oriented, may require response or action

Example of Use

Announcing a public event or policy
Requesting reports or providing internal updates

Circular and Memo Definitions


A document distributed widely for information or notification.
The company issued a circular regarding the new office policies.


A document for conveying information or instructions among employees.
The HR department issued a memo regarding the new dress code policy.


Pertaining to a document that circulates among a large group.
A circular was distributed to inform residents about the community meeting.


An internal form of communication, often brief and to the point.
The CEO’s memo about company values was circulated to all departments.


An announcement or advertisement intended for mass distribution.
The store sent out a sales circular to all its customers.


A brief written message used for internal communication in an organization.
The manager sent a memo to his team about the deadline for the project.


Often used for public notices or organizational announcements.
The university's circular about the semester schedule was posted on the bulletin board.


Used for internal reports, updates, or requests in a company.
The memo outlined the changes to the company's travel reimbursement process.


A form of communication that covers general topics of interest.
The circular included information about the upcoming health and safety week.


An informal note or reminder within a business setting.
She wrote a memo to remind staff of the upcoming meeting.


Of or relating to a circle.


A memorandum.


Shaped like or nearly like a circle; round.


A short note; a memorandum.


(programming) A record of partial results that can be reused later without recomputation.


(informal) To record something; to make a note of something.


(informal) To send someone a note about something, for the record.
I made sure to memo him about the client's complaints.


A written proposal or reminder


What is the main purpose of a circular?

To inform or notify a wide audience about general information or announcements.

Can a circular be used for advertising?

Yes, it's often used for mass distribution of advertisements or promotions.

Is a memo legally binding?

Not usually, but it can be used as a record of internal communication.

What is the typical length of a circular?

It varies, but circulars can be longer and more detailed than memos.

Is a memo used for long-term policies?

Not usually; memos are more for immediate or short-term information.

Can a memo be sent to external parties?

Typically no, as memos are intended for internal communication.

Who are the typical recipients of a memo?

Employees or specific departments within an organization.

How is a circular distributed?

Through email, physical mail, or posting on notice boards, both internally and externally.

Do circulars require a response?

Generally, no, they are mostly informational.

Can a circular address specific individuals?

It's less common, as circulars are for a broad audience.

Can circulars be digital?

Yes, they are often distributed via email or digital platforms.

What format does a circular follow?

It's usually formal and can include logos, headers, and official language.

Can a memo include attachments?

Yes, if additional information or documentation is needed.

Who typically writes circulars?

Officials, management, or public relations departments.

Is a memo a formal document?

It's less formal than other official documents but still professional.

How quickly should a memo be acted upon?

Depending on its content, usually promptly.

Is there a standard format for memos?

There's a general structure, but it can vary depending on the organization.

Are memos confidential?

They can be, depending on the nature of the information shared.

Are circulars archived?

Yes, especially if they contain important information or policies.

What tone is used in a memo?

Usually a professional and direct tone.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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