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70-plus common business abbreviations to know

Some common abbreviations and acronyms include PTO, SMART and WFH.

The business world moves at a fast pace, and many companies throw around abbreviations and acronyms to save time speaking and typing. But if you're not familiar with this shorthand, you might feel like you're swimming around in a giant bowl of alphabet soup.

Here are some common business abbreviations and acronyms that employees should know to take the guesswork out of their workday.

  1. 1:1 -- one on one. Usually in reference to a regular check-in between an employee and a manager.
  2. AFK -- away from keyboard. A term generally used by gamers to let others know they won't be near their computer for a while. Also sometimes used as a custom away message on Slack or Microsoft Teams for someone to let others know they are away from their desk.
  3. AI -- artificial intelligence. Used in reference to machines that simulate human intelligence.
  4. AP -- accounts payable. This refers to the dollar amount of items and services for which a company has invoiced. This is the opposite of AR, or accounts receivable, which are the bills owed to other companies.
  5. API -- application programming interface. This refers to code that lets two programs communicate.
  6. ASAP -- as soon as possible. Frequently used when talking about scheduling and project management.
  7. AWOL -- absent without leave. Usually used in relation to soldiers in the military, but the term has trickled into everyday conversation.
  8. B2B -- business to business. This refers to businesses that sell to other businesses.
  9. B2C -- business to consumer. This refers to businesses that sell to consumers.
  10. BRB -- be right back. Usually used when texting or instant messaging someone.
  11. CC -- carbon copy. While this term originated long before the advent of email, it now references sending a copy of an email to an additional person.
  12. CMS -- content management system. This is an application such as Box or WordPress that enables users to store, edit and collaborate on files.
  13. COB -- close of business. Refers to the end of the business day -- typically 5 p.m. Also used interchangeably with EOB, or end of business.
  14. Comp -- to give something for free, from the word complimentary. Usually used in relation to gambling and retail.
  15. CPU -- cost per unit. This refers to the fixed and variable costs of producing and delivering one unit of a product to a customer.
  16. CTA -- call to action. This is a button or link on a webpage that encourages users to take an action, such as downloading content or receiving a promotional discount.
  17. CX -- customer experience. This refers to a customer's perceptions and feelings about a brand through their interactions with products and services.
  18. DEI -- diversity, equity and inclusion. This term refers to policies and programs that aim to promote an inclusive workplace culture.
  19. DM -- direct message. Used in social media settings to discuss something in a less public setting. Often used interchangeably with PM, or private message.
  20. DOE -- depending on experience. Often seen in job postings when speaking about salary.
  21. EBITDA -- earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Measures a company's overall financial health.
  22. EOD -- end of day. This is usually in reference to deadlines.
  23. EPS -- earnings per share. Shows the profitably of a company. It is calculated by dividing quarterly or annual income by the number of outstanding stock shares.
  24. ESG -- environmental, social and governance. This is a framework to assess an organization's practices on sustainability and ethical issues.
  25. ETA -- estimated time of arrival. In the business world, this can refer to a deadline or the expected time of completion.
  26. EX -- employee experience. Refers to a worker's feelings and perceptions about their job through all touchpoints, from job candidacy to their exit.
  27. FIFO -- first in, first out. Often used in inventory management, meaning the oldest items are sold first.
  28. FTE -- full-time employee. In the United States, the IRS classifies employees who work at least 30 hours a week as full time.
  29. HQ -- headquarters. Usually refers to the main office of a company or organization.
  30. HR -- human resources. Refers to the department that handles company employees.
  31. HTML -- Hypertext Markup Language. This refers to the standard programming language developers use to create webpages.
  32. IAM -- in a meeting. Often used as a custom away message on Slack or Teams for a person to let others know they are unavailable.
  33. ICYMI -- in case you missed it. Often accompanied by an article or video that someone might find interesting or educational.
  34. IM -- instant message. Refers to real-time communication through an app such as Slack, Facebook Messenger or Skype.
  35. IMO -- in my opinion. A variation of this is IMHO, or in my humble opinion.
  36. IPO -- initial public offering. This is when a private organization first offers stock shares on a public stock exchange.
  37. KPI -- key performance indicator. These are quantifiable business metrics, such as revenue, profits, lead conversion rates and call hold times.
  38. LMK -- let me know. Informal; best not to use in formal communication.
  39. M&A -- mergers and acquisitions. Refers to the process of combining two companies into one.
  40. MoM -- month over month. Usually in reference to a change percentage from month to month.
  41. NDA -- nondisclosure agreement. This is a legal contract used to protect sensitive information.
  42. NRN -- no reply necessary. Usually in relation to email or text messages.
  43. NSFW -- not safe for work. Usually in relation to an email, a video or something else that is not suitable for a work environment.
  44. NWR -- non-work related. A user might put this in an email subject line to differentiate between professional and personal communication.
  45. OOO -- out of office. This doesn't mean an employee is on vacation, just that they are not in the office.
  46. OS -- operating system. This refers to the program on a computer, such as Microsoft Windows or Linux, that manages all other applications. Users can interact with it through a graphical user interface or command-line interface.
  47. P/E – price-to-earnings ratio. This helps describe whether a market is overvaluing or undervaluing a stock.
  48. P&L -- profit and loss. This is a statement of accounts showing a company's financial well-being.
  49. POC -- point of contact. Refers to someone in another company with whom an employee typically communicates.
  50. PPC -- pay per click. A digital advertising model where an advertiser pays a fee each time a user clicks one of their ads.
  51. PR -- public relations. Usually a department within an organization that focuses on external publicity and relationships.
  52. PTE -- part-time employee. The IRS classifies employees who work 16 to 32 hours a week as part time.
  53. PTO -- paid time off. Generally refers to vacation time or personal days.
  54. PV -- page view. This refers to an instance when a user visits a particular webpage.
  55. QA/QC -- quality assurance/quality control. These refer to quality management. While the terms are often used interchangeably, QC is actually a subset of QA activities.
  56. R&D -- research and development. Typically refers to a department responsible for researching and developing new products.
  57. Re: -- referring to. Often seen in an email subject line when replying to an email.
  58. RFP -- request for proposal. This is a document requesting bids from vendors for services and tools.
  59. ROI -- return on investment. This is a measurement used to evaluate an investment's efficiency and profitability.
  60. RTO/RTW -- return to office/return to work. This abbreviation became common during the COVID-19 pandemic when employees began going back into the office instead of working from home.
  61. SEO -- search engine optimization. This is the process of improving a business's website visibility.
  62. SLA -- service-level agreement. This is a contract between a service provider and its customers that spells out the terms of service.
  63. SMART -- specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound. This is usually in reference to employee goals.
  64. SME -- subject matter expert. These are professionals with advanced knowledge in a given field.
  65. SWOT -- strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This generally refers to an analysis businesses conduct to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  66. TBD -- to be decided/determined. Generally used in reference to events where time, place or other details have not yet been confirmed.
  67. TIL -- today I learned. Often used before someone shares a fun fact they recently learned.
  68. TL;DR -- too long; didn't read. Typically used when text-based content such as a Teams message, social media post or email is too long.
  69. TOS -- terms of service. Refers to a document detailing what a service provider is responsible for as well as user obligations.
  70. TYT -- take your time. For use in casual text-based communications.
  71. URL -- uniform resource locator. Otherwise known as a website address.
  72. VPN -- virtual private network. This is a service that creates a safe, encrypted online connection, often used when employees work from home and are connecting to tools in the office.
  73. WFH -- work from home. Refers to an employee working from their place of residence instead of an office building.
  74. WRT -- with respect/reference to. Often used when referring to a previous topic of discussion.
  75. YTD -- year to date. A period of time starting at the beginning of the current year and ending on the present date.

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