When I first went almost three decades ago, TANSTAAFL was the first acronym I ran into, and I had no idea what it meant. (Don’t know either? Read on…)
Most know about the commonly used acronyms like LOL (Laugh Out Loud) and FYI (For Your Information). However, there are many acronyms in existence that are not used as much (or used only within groups of folks who know what they mean), so using them arbitrarily, especially in business communications, wouldn’t be a good idea.
Use Acronyms Sparingly
When using acronyms in your business email communications, do so sparingly. It is best to type out the phrase rather than risk the other side not knowing what you mean. Or worse, you appear to be too informal or a lazy communicator.
Those who follow this site know the rule I use. “If you wouldn’t do it on business letterhead…”. That rule applies here too.
Taking this approach helps you stand out from the rest, who will take shortcuts, thereby minimizing the perception of professionalism and clarity in their business emails. Instead, be that person who is viewed as knowing how to use technology with discretion.
You also want to consider whether the other side will know what that specific acronym means. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? Are you doing so just to save a few keystrokes?
Be very careful when using acronyms with those you do not know. You do not know their level of tech-savvy, and even then, you cannot assume they’ll understand your abbreviations.
Should you assume this level of informality with new business contacts? When used without thought, doing so could be viewed as inappropriate or distract from the intent or meaning of your email message.
Consider the Recipient
Always keep in mind the intended party and situation. For example, you would never use acronyms when emailing a new potential customer or lead.
Nor would you use acronyms in an email that requires a sternly professional tone. Or how about when submitting a resume for employment? Nope, acronyms should not be used there, either.
Acronyms Suitable for Business Emails
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 need clarification on what an acronym stands for, use my favorite site for this – AcronymFinder.com.
BTW, TANSTAAFL stands for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” And boy, does that apply to business success! HTH!