business english abbreviations

Attn! 25 Common Business English Abbreviations and Acronyms You Need

Who’s the CFO of your organization?

Do you know anyone from R&D?

Which dept do you work for?

You may be surprised at just how often we use abbreviations like these in our daily lives, sometimes without even knowing what they stand for.

Do you know what those abbreviations mean? Read on for the answers.

These shortened forms of common words or names are everywhere and we love them because they’re so convenient to say and write.

Here today, we’re going to look at a list of abbreviations I’m sure will be very useful to you in your business communications. But before we get to that, let’s find out what abbreviations are and why they’re so popular with business professionals.

What Are Business English Abbreviations and Why Do We Use Them?

Abbreviations are shortened versions of words or phrases. They may include only a few letters of the original word, or they may be made up of the first letters of each word in a phrase (in this case they’re known as “acronyms”).

Both of these types will be included in the list of abbreviations below. Be sure to keep reading.

Abbreviations are very common in the English language. They’re especially popular in business English because they’re short and easy to remember, so they can make business documents and other workplace communication a lot more efficient.

As they say in business, “time is money.” So if there’s a short form for a word or expression, why not use it?

Today, lots of business communication is done on-the-move via emails, texting or messaging, using small devices where typing is often a challenge. By using abbreviations, you type less, save yourself many keystrokes and make fewer typos (an abbreviation for “typing errors”).

Short and Sweet! 25 Business English Abbreviations for Efficient Communication

I’m going to start you off with a list of commonly used workplace abbreviations that I guarantee will help you in your job or business. Feel free to print out this list and use it as your cheat sheet.

Written-only Abbreviations

The following abbreviations are usually used only in written communications. You wouldn’t normally use them in spoken communications.


This is the short form for department.

Ensure every dept gets a copy of this.


This stands for attention or for the attention of.

Here’s the format that’s usually used in letters, emails and memos: Attn: + [name or title of person]

Attn: Harvey Norman


Here’s an easy one. It’s the short form for please. Use it in informal communication with colleagues or peers.

Pls switch off the lights before you leave.


This abbreviation can be used as a shortened form of the word approximate or approximately.

We’re expecting approx. 50 boxes in tomorrow’s shipment.

Spoken and Written Abbreviations

The following abbreviations may be used in both spoken and written communications:


Nice and simple. This one’s short for document.

Can you email me the doc before lunch?


This abbreviation for To Be Announced is often used in the planning of business events to indicate that something is scheduled to happen but some details still have to be confirmed and announced later.

The new Finance Manager will be joining us next month. The actual date is TBA.


This is an acronym for the phrase For Your Information.

It’s often used to draw attention to certain information such as data, reports or file attachments.

FYI, the monthly sales report for June is attached to this email.


This stands for Headquarters, or the main office of a business organization.

Meetings with business partners are usually held at HQ.


This is the abbreviation commonly used to refer to Research & Development, a department responsible for (you guessed it!) researching and developing new products.

If you have a new product in mind, why not discuss it with the R&D Department?


You might’ve come across this very popular abbreviation for As Soon As Possible.

The Sales Director wants to see your sales budget ASAP.


This refers to the Estimated Time of Arrival, or the time someone is expected to arrive at their destination.

Let me know your flight’s ETA so I can be at the airport to pick you up.


This stands for Business-to-Business, a business relationship where a company’s customers are other businesses.

For example, Quill is a popular B2B company that provides office supplies to other businesses.

There’s talk that our company will be venturing into B2B e-commerce.


Now look at this. It stands for Business-to-Consumer, a business relationship where a company’s customers are individual consumers like you and me. An example of a B2C website you’ve probably heard of is Amazon.

Most online shopping businesses are B2C.


It’s common practice for companies to release a Request For Proposals from suppliers who are interested in bidding to complete a project for the company.

The committee is still waiting for one more RFP from a company in Italy before we decide.


This is short for Human Resources, which is the department that handles the employees of a company.

If you need to hire more staff, it’s best to let HR know early.


This abbreviation is used in the field of Information Technology (IT) to refer to Search Engine Optimization, a technique to attract visitors to your website from search engines like Google.

In order for our online marketing campaign to succeed, we must improve the SEO of our web store.


This stands for Profit & Loss, which is a statement of accounts showing a company’s financial position.

The board of directors won’t be happy with our P&L this year.


An Initial Public Offering is the first time a company offers to sell its stock to the public.

It hasn’t been decided yet what the pricing of the IPO will be.


Here’s another abbreviation used in IT to refer to Internet Service Provider, a company such as AT&T that specializes in providing internet access to subscribers.

Our ISP has been informed about the slow internet access during peak hours.


This stands for Purchase Order, which is an official document issued by a company to a specific seller for items that it intends to buy.

She has sent out a PO to the same supplier who sold us those work benches.


I’m sure you must’ve heard of this acronym used to refer to the Chief Executive Officer, or head of a business organization.

As soon as our new business partners arrive, please take them to meet the CEO.


Similarly, this is the acronym for Chief Financial Officer, or the head of finance in an organization.

With our CFO on extended leave, who’s in charge of finance now?


This is a common abbreviation used to refer to Public Relations, or the department or activities that create a good public image for the company.

Improving our customer service has been good for our PR.


This stands for Quality Control, an activity that ensures products are of an acceptable standard.

All of our products undergo strict QC.


This stands for carbon copy. It’s a pre-email term that now refers to sending a copy of a letter or email to an additional person.

Remember to cc the proposal to your manager.


There you have it, a list of the 25 workplace abbreviations you can use right now. Make a cheat sheet and pin it up for easy reference. As you come across new abbreviations, keep adding them to your cheat list until you can remember them without looking. You’ll love how easy they make your daily business communications. Good luck and happy learning.

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