ASAP, FYI, IDK: Which Acronyms are Safe to Use in Business — and When!
There are some acronyms that are safe to use in business communication and some that are not safe. Knowing which ones you can use in your business communications will reassure you and your employees when you go to draft an official email or letter. Here are a few hard and fast rules to follow when using three of the most frequently used acronyms in business: ASAP, FYI and IDK.
This is one of those acronyms that has been around so long it’s actually worked its way into every day, conversational language. Sometimes, it’s even pronounced as its own word: “Aysap.”
Whether you spell it out or speak it phonetically, the shortened version of “As soon as possible” is one that is perfectly acceptable when composing interoffice messages. However, if you’re dealing directly with a client and you want to put your best foot forward with them, consider going to the trouble of actually typing out the words. Conveying to someone that you will contact them “as soon as possible” simply sounds more professional.
The English language shorthand way of saying “for your information,” FYI is one of those phrases that’s so firmly entrenched in our culture that you might not think twice about using it in business communication. People hear FYI and don’t even have to think about what they’re being told. However, using it in a sentence can be tricky because no matter how you frame it, it looks and sounds informal.
Before you weave it into a sentence, consider your audience. If you’re composing an email to a co-worker or an interoffice newsletter, using FYI is entirely appropriate. In an official communication to a client? Not so much.
There are acronyms that are safe to use in business, and acronyms that are just bad taste. IDK falls into the latter category for two distinct reasons. First, it’s shorthand for “I don’t know” – three words you never want to use when discussing business matters with another party. Second, it’s a slang phrase that’s right up there with LOL and OMG in the lexicon of frequent phone texters. Just as you’d never consider including abbreviations like B4 (before), JK (just kidding) or L8R (later) in a professional communication, IDK should be strictly reserved for after-hours text chat with your BFFs.