A corporate communicator’s guide to abbreviations

Though you should take care to avoid jargon in your pitches, press releases and other copy, you will probably encounter many of these business abbreviations.

In corporate communications, abbreviations are everywhere.

Not only do we use our own department abbreviations (such as NFP), but there is additional shorthand from other departments, including accounting, human resources, legal and IT.

Communicators use abbreviations—especially the three-letter variety—to save time. It’s much faster to say (or write) CPC than “cost per click.” Unfortunately, not everyone knows what CPC means, and if an abbreviation is not defined immediately, its meaning can get lost.

Be careful not to rely too heavily on abbreviations, either—they can be writing pitfalls, along with other jargon. The AP Stylebook offers the following advice:

However, you’ll still probably encounter many abbreviations, whether you use them in your copy or not. ( Editor’s note: An acronym is a particular type of abbreviation, created when initials form a word or pronounceable name: scuba, ZIP code, NASA, FEMA.)

Below is a list of common business abbreviations and their definitions. Please note that this list is not comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start.

1. ABC: always be closing

2. AIDA: attention, interest, desire, action

3. API: application program interface

4. B2B: business to business

5. B2C: business to consumer

6. BCP: business continuity plan

7. CAN-SPAM: controlling the assault of non-solicited pornography and marketing

8. CPC: cost per click

9. CTA: call to action

10. CTR: click-through rate

11. CR: conversion rate

12. CRM: customer relationship management

13. CSS: cascading style sheet

14. DB: defined benefit

15. DNS: domain name system

16. EAP: employee assistance program

17. FAB : features, advantages, benefits

18. FTE: full-time equivalent

19. GAAP: generally accepted accounting principles

20. GL: general ledger

21. KPI: key performance indicator

22. LLC: limited liability company

23. LLP: limited liability partnership

24. LP: limited partnership

25. MEGO: my eyes glazed over

26. NDA: non-disclosure agreement

27. NFP: not for publication

28. NPS: net promoter score

29. NRN: no reply necessary

30. OE: open enrollment

31. OOO : out of office

32. PHI: protected health information

33. PIP: performance improvement plan

34. PLC: public limited company

35. TLA: three-letter acronym (or three-letter abbreviation)

36. ROS: run of site

37. RSS: rich site summary or really simple syndication

38. SAAS : software as a service

39. SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound

40. SPD: summary plan description

41. SQL: structured query language

42. SSL: secure sockets layer

43. SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats

44. TED: tell me, explain to me, describe to me

45. UPS: uninterruptible power supply

46. VPN: virtual private network

47. ZBB: zero-based budgeting

Laura Hale Brockway is a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her posts on writing, editing and corporate life at impertinentremarks.com.

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