Abbreviations in daily business emails

In our daily work context, regardless of our industry or expertise, most of us will need to use emails for professional communication. The headache sometimes comes when we receive an email with what-the-heck-is-that abbreviations that no one taught at schools or no senior colleagues trained us. The list provided below comprises only some frequent text we may catch at work, excluding the terminologies as there would be plenty of them depending on different industries / sectors / business functions.

FYI – For your information: I am quite sure if you have ever used email for work, you would definitely see this text at least once in your life. It normally appears in a forwarded email to your colleagues or friends with no requirement for action.

In a more complex work context, it can be used among an email loop with a bunch of tasks already but we might lack specific information, then someone holding that information can insert it to a reply for our information, and action where required. Good partner then.

In writing, you can see the text stand alone but sometimes you may see it follows a sentence, i.e. Please find the attached documents fyi. It is how I always tend to overuse this abbreviation, just for informal emails to the colleagues I know well. Of course, please do not use it if you are trying to deliver a sales pitch to a new or big customer.

FYA – For your action: this abbreviation might be a variation from the above FYI. This text normally follows a supply of information needed for you to implement (a) certain task(s). The principle for using this abbreviation is also the same to FYI.

HIH – Hope it helps: this is a very uncommon text that I think I have never seen it elsewhere except from one of my past companies. I asked a colleague something that I can’t remember now, then she replied me with her answer and this abbreviation at the end. It sounds like a friendly way of communicating but also nice and kind.

WIP – Work in progress / process: actually, this abbreviation is usually used to refer to the goods under fabrication and not yet finished in manufacturing industry. In term of this context, it can be considered a terminology.

However, we sometimes use it in other context to indicate a project or a file / document that we are doing and updating with our collaborators. I personally use this abbreviation to clarify to the recipient if I send them an updated file but not considered as the last version, i.e. You could have a look at all the updates I made in the attached file, but please be noted that it is just a WIP. So please do not circulate it until we finalize all information.

In conclusion, this list is not exhaustive as it depends on every business cultures, regions, personalities and many other factors. Moreover, as emphasized above, abbreviations are only suitable for casual or informal communication. Hence, it is always a good manner to write a professional standard email to our colleagues. It is one of the interpersonal skills that is always required for any jobs. Let’s build good relationships from every single tip we learn day by day!


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