Business English is a language all on its own. It uses English words and expressions to create complicated jargon for the business world. If you don’t want to feel alienated by this language, you have to learn the vocabulary, expressions, and formats used in business.
Because much of the jargon contains really long, hard-to-remember words, business English has accepted the use of acronyms and abbreviations in much of their communications, departments, and titles.
FYI: The rule-of-thumb in any form of English writing (business, casual, or academic) is that you always state the full form of the word with its acronym or abbreviation in parenthesis at least once at the beginning of your writing before using the abbreviated form throughout the rest of the writing. This is necessary, especially for unknown or uncommon acronyms, so that the readers won’t have to search for the meaning to understand what is being said. For example:
Samsung’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) resigned his position today due to a medical condition hindering him from continuing his duties. The CEO position will be temporarily filled by the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).
There are over 250 acronyms and abbreviations used in business English. Here are 50 of the most commonly used ones. You may have encountered many of these acronyms and abbreviations when you receive a business email or an official document. But, do you know what they mean?
English Acronyms and Abbreviations
Abbreviations and Acronyms For Job Titles and Departments in Business
You may encounter these in many name plates (on identification cards, office doors, and desks), business cards, emails, and business addresses.
- CEO: Chief Executive Officer
- CFO: Chief Financial Officer
- COO: Chief Operating Officer
- CPA: Certified Public Accountant
- PRO: Public Relations Officer / PR Dept.: Public Relations Department
- ABM: Area Business Manager
- STRATCOM: Strategic Communications
- PA: Personal Assistant
- IT Dept.: Information Technology Department
- HRM: Human Resource Manager / HR Dept.: Human Resource Department
Finance Abbreviations and Accounting Abbreviations
When you receive a letter from the bank or are signing papers for a bank, you may notice the use of some of these abbreviations. When legal documents are written, they use these, too. You may also notice that when you watch Bloomberg and read the Business and Economics section of the newspaper, many of these words are also used.
- ACCT: Account
- CAPEX: Capital Expenditures
- FDIC: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- FOREX: Foreign Exchange
- GNP: Gross National Product / GDP: Gross Domestic Product
- Inc.: Incorporated
- LLC: Limited Liability Company
- LOI: Letter Of Intent
- Pd: Paid
- Re or RE: In Reference to, Retained Earnings
- SEC: Securities Exchange Commission
Social Media Acronyms and Digital Marketing Abbreviations
Because many business transactions are done via the Internet and the Worldwide Web, it’s crucial that you familiarize yourself with these acronyms and abbreviations. They are used more widely during business communications via the Net than more common business acronyms and abbreviations.
- HTTPS: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure
- API: Application Program Interface
- ASP: Application Service Provider
- CRM: Customer Relationship Management
- CTA: Call To Action
- CX: Customer Experience
- DNS: Domain Name System
- FTP: File Transfer Protocol
- IM: Instant Messaging
- IP: Intellectual property (or ‘Internet Protocol’)
- ISP: Internet Service Provider
- KPI: Key Performance Indicator
- MLM: Multilevel Marketing
- OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer
- OS: Operating System (sometimes this is used for ‘open source’)
- QR Code: Quick Response Code
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization
- SME: Small / Medium Enterprise. (aka SMB = ‘business’)
- SMS: Short Message Service
- UX: User Experience
Email Business Abbreviations
Business writing varies. There are times we use formal business English, and there are times we use the informal. Emails are considered 50-50 because the nature of the email and to whom the email is addressed to depends on what language you would use.
Obviously, a lower ranking employee would communicate formally to the CEO or like personalities of the company. Equal ranking employees may choose to communicate to each other either way.
These abbreviations, however, are considered more official to use in business emails because emails are meant to be short but factual.
- FYI: For Your Information
- ASAP: As Soon As Possible
- BTW: By The Way
- ATTN: Attention
- N/A: Not Applicable
- RSVP: Please Respond
- A/N: Author’s Note
- APP: Application
- AWOL: Absent Without Leave