Business Writing Tip #202—Take Care When Using Acronyms

An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of a phrase, or a name. Think ASAP (as soon as possible), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund), and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Some we use every day, and others are less common.

When you are writing for business, remember that you want to make it easy for your reader to understand your message.acronym-wordcloud

Even though you might be familiar with an acronym and use it regularly, your reader may have to stop and think about it, or even look it up. This is especially true in a global business environment where non-native English speakers may not have encountered specific acronyms before.

Acronyms can be useful. They provide a shorthand to terms we use regularly, and many are embedded in the jargon of a particular field of study or organisation.

Just remember to use them with care, especially in business writing.

Here are some tips:

  • The first time you use a particular acronym, provide the term in full before the acronym. For example, close of business (COB), business-to-business (B2B)
  • Avoid starting a sentence with an acronym
  • Omit the word ‘the’ when the acronym is pronounced as a word (UNICEF, not the UNICEF)

Acronyms can be a convenient shortcut in informal business correspondence (emails and texts), once you are certain the person you are corresponding with knows the acronyms you are using. You may find yourself writing emails full of CRM, CTA, CPC, IMO, and the like. Just always remember, you want your reader to be able to understand your communication quickly, without spending time looking up acronyms on line.

Happy writing.