A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email

Acronyms and Jargon

Kaitlin Duck Sherwood

A number of new users have asked me to include a jargon/acronym page for email. Contrary to how you might feel, there is not a conspiracy out there to try to exclude you. Every group that spends any time together develops its own shorthand notation; it is not surprising that people forced to use the unnatural action of typing would be inclined towards acronyms. Some of these come from Usenet newsgroups, some of the more "gestural" ones come from Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

Obviously it would be nice of seasoned users to not pepper novices with an enormous amount of jargon, but on the Internet, nobody knows you are a newcomer.

Here are some of the most common acronyms and expressions:

These are less common, but show up occasionally:

Jargon that is sometimes used:

A term that I would love to see popularized is "NRN", for "No Response Needed". Sometimes, without body language, it isn't clear when an email-based conversation should be ended. While FYI often means that a response isn't expected, the primary purpose of FYI is to indicate that it's something of low importance.

To unravel jargon and technical Internet terms, see also the fine Internet Literacy Consultants' Glossary of Internet Terms. There is also a Dictionary of Computer Acronyms and Jargon. A simpler list is at Harry Yeatts' acronyms page.

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Created 30 Dec 1995
Modified 7 Dec 1998 - added a few expressions
Modified 28 Dec 1998 - added a link, "flame", and removed "MORF"
Modified 18 Jan 1999 - added bounce, distribution list
Modified 25 Jan 1999 - added bots, lurk, post
Moved bibliography to be the last appendix, beautified page 23 May 2001

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