FYI, TBD, ASAP: Abbreviations and Work Emails

FYI, TBD, ASAP: Abbreviations & Work Emails

Work emails need to be short and straight to the point, but should always remain polite and courteous. Which abbreviations are OK to use?

FYI, TBD, ASAP: Abbreviations and Work Emails

So you’re new on the job and your inbox has just begun flooding with daily email exchanges between colleagues. Some of them might look a lot like this:

Dear all,

FYI the monthly report must be submitted ASAP.


The English language is full of handy abbreviations; however, some are more suitable for the workplace than others, and you must keep this in mind when using them. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.

Commonly used abbreviations


“As Soon As Possible” is a pretty straightforward one: it indicates a task or request that  doesn’t have a specific deadline, but must be done right away and without further delay. So, if your boss sends a short email saying “I need the slideshow ASAP”, he/she probably means NOW!

(via GIPHY)


“For Your Information” should be used when you wish to emphasize that what follows is either a reminder or a useful piece of information. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take action. For example, “FYI our sales have increased 150% this trimester” doesn’t really require you to do anything (apart from maybe congratulating the Sales Department).


“To Be Decided/Determined/Defined” should be used when one part of the information — like the date or venue of an event, for example — is still unknown. So don’t fret if you get an email that says the next company dinner will be “in a restaurant TBD”; it just means they haven’t decided yet where to go.


Commonly seen in event invitations, this abbreviation comes from the French expression “Répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is just a very polite way of saying “Please respond”. This indicates that the event host needs to know the approximate number of attending guests in order to organize everything accordingly. So if you get an email asking you to “RSVP until Monday”, make sure you send a reply before the deadline, confirming your presence or not.

(via GIPHY)

Abbreviations you should avoid

You should know that not all abbreviations are considered suitable for the workplace. You might get scolded by your boss if you use rather informal ones like LOL, WTF and YOLO. Remember that work emails should be formal, which means you should write differently from the way you usually message your family and friends.

And while we’re on the topic of “what to avoid”… if writing emails generally make you sweat with anxiety, just keep it short and straight to the point. Avoid using exclamation marks, or more than one question mark when asking questions, and you’ll be fine. And most importantly, try not to sound like a crazy person — as in the hilarious animation below, by Domics.

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