When I first went online well over a two decades ago, TANSTAAFL was the first acronym I ran into that I had no idea what it meant.
Most know about the commonly used acronyms like LOL (Laugh Out Loud) and FYI (For Your Information). There are a ton of acronyms in existence that are not used as much (or used only within groups of folks who know what they mean) so to use them arbitrarily wouldn’t be a good idea.
When using acronyms in your business e-mail only do so sparingly. Most times it is preferred to type out the phrase than risk the other side not knowing what you mean. Or worse you looking like a lazy communicator.
The “if you wouldn’t do it on business letterhead…” rule applies here too. Taking this approach helps to allow you stand out from the rest who will take shortcuts thereby minimizing the perception of professionalism and clarity of their business e-mails.
Always consider if the person other side will know what that specific acronym means. Otherwise what’s the point? Be very careful to not use acronyms with those you don’t know very well because you won’t know their level of tech savvy and even then you cannot assume they’ll understand your abbreviations. Acronyms are a very informal mode of communicating and when used in arbitrarily could be viewed as inappropriate or distract from the intent or meaning of your e-mail message.
A good rule of thumb is to use acronyms sparingly while always keeping in mind the intended party and situation. For example, you would never use acronyms when e-mailing a first time contact about doing business. Nor would you use acronyms in an e-mail that requires a sternly professional tone. Or how about when submitting a resume for employment? Nope; no acronyms should be used there either but I get unsolicited submissions that do on a pretty regular basis.
Acronyms Suitable for Business E-mails
These are just a handful of acronyms I use and very rarely. Yes, there are probably others that can be used, but for me these are the only acronyms I have used and only in less formal communications with those I’ve communicated with for some time and know very well:
BTW = By The Way
TIA = Thanks In Advance
HTH = Hope This Helps
FWIW = For What It’s Worth
LOL = Laugh Out Loud
If you are not sure of what an acronym stands for, use my favorite site:
BTW, TANSTAAFL stands for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”. And boy does that apply to business success!