A memo is a short piece of text whose main function is to record important information.
The term 'memo' is short for 'memorandum', a word of Latin origin which in its initial full form - memorandum est - means 'it is to be remembered' (Oxford English Dictionary).
The short version, 'memo', works in most situations except for very formal contexts, where the longer term may be preferred. There are different variants of the plural form, with 'memos' for the short term and 'memoranda' or 'memorandums' for the full term being the predominant ones.
The corresponding Swedish term for 'memo' is PM, which is short for promemoria, from Latin pro memoria ('for memory'). Do not use that form in English, since 'PM' in English is most frequently an abbreviation for 'Prime Minister', and 'pm' is an abbreviation of post meridiem (afternoon).
A memo is used as an official note within an organisation, and the text often consists of three parts:
- The header, indicating who the sender and the intended receipients are, date, and a subject line
- The message, where the actual content of the memo is provided. This part can vary greatly in style, length and detail, depending on the purpose of the memo
- The closing lines, which depending on the situation can be short or omitted entirely
Memos vary in format and the way they are sent. Nowadays, a memo is often sent via email and will look like an ordinary email. In those cases, the initial section with sender, receiver, date and subject line is integral to the e-mail format.