Everyone wants to write better emails that people will actually interact with. Maybe you’re struggling to communicate properly with your coworkers in the business world, or just want to improve your knowledge of email standards.
What you might be surprised to find is that email carries its own set of lingo. If you’re not used to these, opening an email to find it full of “EOD”s and “LMK”s will send you on a long trip to Google just to decipher a message — even if you know other internet slang.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here’s a big list of email acronyms so you can get caught up on what they all mean. Once you’ve mastered them, using these to create catchy subject lines will improve your own messages!
1. OOO (Out of Office)
Let’s start with an easy one. OOO, or out of office, means that you’re not at work when you reply to the email. Perhaps you’re on vacation for the week and are only checking email periodically. This acronym lets people know that they shouldn’t expect an immediate response. It’s typically used as an automatic responder.
“I am OOO until Friday, August 25. Please direct all questions to Mark Simmons.”
2. WFH (Working From Home)
Like OoO, this one lets others know that you’re working remotely for the day. It’s useful if someone asks you to do something that requires you to be on-site.
One good thing about working from home is you get to set the dress code and the dress code here is always 'pants optional'.
— ?Lisa? (@lasergirl70) August 3, 2017
“WFH Today. Our meeting in room 24B will instead take place on Wednesday.”
3. EOM (End of Message)
Here’s a big time-saver. If your entire message fits into the subject line, people don’t need to waste time opening it. Thus, ending your header with EOM allows people to read the subject, take action if needed, and delete the message.
“Sam let us know that we’re clear to proceed on this project. EOM”
4. PRB (Please Reply By)
We all know some people who take forever to respond to email. If you’re sending a message and need to know everyone’s input by a certain time, include a PRB date to request a swift reply.
“I need to know who can help out at the charity event this weekend. PRB Thursday 8/24”
5. NRN (No Reply Necessary)
Have you ever been chugging along at your work, only to see an email notification that draws your attention? Upon opening it, you find a simple “Great, thanks!” This wastes your time and email space. Including NRN in your subject lets people know that they don’t have to respond with a two-word answer.
Just write, "I know you're thankful, no reply email necessary" on your next 3 or 4 emails and the problem should go away.
— Grand Rapids Library (@GRapidsLibrary) April 25, 2017
“We’re meeting in Room 5A instead of 4C. NRN”
6. NSFW (Not Safe for Work)
This is a common abbreviation you’ll see elsewhere online to indicate that the content you’re about to open is explicit. Usually this refers to sexually explicit material or an influx of swearing that you wouldn’t want to have open in the workplace for your coworkers to see or hear. You should probably think twice about sending this kind of content through business email, though.
Just been sent an email with the heading "Is mesh underwear practical" #NSFW I reckon.
— Darren (@DazzlesOfficial) August 9, 2017
“[NSFW] This new Chris Rock stand-up bit is vulgar but hilarious!”
7. SFW (Safe for Work)
Flipping the above acronym on its head gives us SFW. You can use this acronym when you’re sending a file or linking to something that sounds inappropriate but really isn’t.
“[SFW] The pictures on the EarthPorn subreddit make for great desktop wallpapers!”
8. FYI (For Your Information)
You’ve probably heard FYI in everyday life, but it can have a few different uses depending on how you use it. Used in the body of an email, it can indicate a side thought. But in the subject of an email, it’s commonly used to let the receiver know that you’re providing this email just so that have the info contained inside and don’t expect a response. This is commonly used when forwarding a message.
“FYI: Next month, IT support will be upgrading everyone to Office 2016.”
9. AR (Action Required)
Sometimes it’s tough to determine whether an email is requiring anything of you or if it’s just for information. The AR acronym can help clear this up. Use it to let the recipient know that you’re giving them a specific task to complete. You’ll probably expound on this in the email body.
“Frank wasn’t happy with last month’s performance. AR: Create a report of our hours worked.”
10. LET (Leaving Early Today)
If you’re heading out earlier than usual, include this message in your subject line. This lets others know that you won’t be around until the end of the day.
“Can’t help clean up after the presentation — LET”
11. EOD/COB (End of Day/Close of Business)
When giving a timeline for when you plan to send something (or when you need something done by), these are useful acronyms. They’re basically interchangeable. As a plus COB can generically refer to work hours somewhere else, such as “I need this by COB Pacific Time.”
“I’ll have that spreadsheet to you by EOD.”
12. BTW (By the Way)
You’ve almost certainly used this in informal conversation. BTW works to add an afterthought to an email message. If you forget to send some important info and have to send a second email right after it, including BTW helps people realize it’s connected to your past message.
“BTW, I forgot to mention that anyone who’s willing to help with this will get lunch on me.”
13. TLTR (Too Long to Read)
Nobody likes an essay of an email. Taking ten minutes to read through a complicated and lengthy message is a lot to ask of some busy folks. You can use TLTR to kindly let someone know that their message is too long and you’d appreciate a summary.
“TLTR. I’d love to help with this but I don’t have the time to digest the full message right now.”
14. TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
This is a sister to the above acronym and is also wildly popular online. Whenever you post a big chunk of text, it’s customary to include a TL;DR section at the bottom summarizing it in a few sentences or bullet points. Then people who don’t care to read the entire email can just get the highlights. It’s not as common to include in a subject, but it could still work.
TL;DR is Too Long; Didn't Read. As in "what's the 140 character summary for those who don't want to click the link?"
— Matthew Klippenstein (@EclecticLip) August 9, 2017
“TL;DR: The Rogers case has become a big problem. Don’t bring this up until we’ve made an announcement on Thursday. Reach out to Dan with questions.”
15. Y/N (Yes or No?)
When you ask a question in an email and need a response, sometimes you just want a quick yes or no. If you don’t need people to send a lengthy reply, indicate that a simple positive or negative response will do.
“Is the new internet restriction affecting your work? Y/N”
What Email Acronyms Do You Love?
These aren’t the only email acronyms, but many others are variations of the core group listed here. Knowing these will help you process email more quickly, and even form more engaging emails when you’re the sender.
However, you should beware of using abbreviations too often or in the wrong situations. A quick WFH to your best friend at work lets them know you’re working remotely, but it’s probably not a good idea to respond to a vice president’s email with TLTR. Sometimes typing out the full phrase is worth the extra space so your email looks professional.
If these acronyms aren’t enough, check out universal email tools that will make life easier.
Which email acronyms save you time and headache? Share your favorites with us below, along with any funny email stories you might have!
Image Credits: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock