As an editor, I have a love/hate relationship with abbreviations. In today’s technology-obsessed, high-paced environment, abbreviations—or shall I say, abbrevs—are a part of our everyday lives.
Sometimes, shortening words is necessary when firing off a quick text or email: Idc wat we hav 4 din 2night (Translation: I don’t care what we have for dinner tonight), but over-abbreviate or aim your twisted text at the wrong audience and you’ll risk sounding like a middle-schooler (see below).
Here are some of my dos and don’ts of abbreviation etiquette.
1. None/limited abbreviations at work. “Idk if u read my email yet?” reads like a text message to an old friend, not a professional email to a boss or coworker. These people determine how much you get paid, so show them you can spell and/or form a full sentence.
2. Anything related to gratitude and/or use of manners should be spelled out. My parents taught me in preschool that the magic words were “Please” and “Thank You,” not pls and tnx/thx. When someone pls’s and thx’s me, I read them as pliss and tanx, so in my mind, I feel like they’re the opposite of politesse.
3. Save the shortenings (like OMG) for your girlfriends, not the opposite sex. Remember: you are trying to come off as the smart, worldly woman that you are. Pepper too many LOLs into an email and you’ll sound like an annoying 13-year-old.
4. While you may shorten in some text messages, those who over-use this “time-saver”-type of writing get annoying. The use of “u” over you especially maddens me. Exercise those fingers! If you can’t reach for the stars, at least reach for those two extra letters. You can do it!
5. No abbreviating for the elderly. Satisfying the teenage need to piss off and/or confuse your parents/grandparents by using terms their technologically-unsavvy selves cannot understand is immature. Same goes with over-abbreviating on purpose to make your older boss seem out-of-it (see also: #1).
1. Feel free to make up new abbreviations when/where appropriate. This can even be “fun,” an annoyingly amusing test of cleverness. Sometimes I feel like Merriam or Webster themselves when I’m trying to figure out how to spell the abbreviated version of a word like usual: u-j-e, uje, pronounced yooo-g.
2. Going along with 1, feel free to package down words to make them “cuter” where appro (…priate). Obsession just looks so darn adorable as obsessh.
3. Abbreviate to impress with schmaltzier codes—ones like apt. (for apartment) are recognized by reputable sources like the USPS (instead of the abbrev-obsessed Twitter community).
4. At work, industry abbreviations make you seem savvy. For example, EOD means end of day in editor-speak. Stet means to leave something alone. CTA can mean call to action. Learn your profession’s condensed jargon, and shorten away to seem smart!
5. Okay, okay, I feel myself dying a little bit as an editor as I tell you this…but even I have used absurd abbreviations in the name of Twitter limitations. With only 140 characters and a bit.ly or ow.ly (or whatever .ly) link to get a pt. (point?) across, it’s acceptable to be as brief and abbreviated as possible.
GIRL TALK TIME: Do you abbreviate words often? What abbreviations do you use? Does it get on your nerves when people abbreviate? In what situations? Spill all your abbreviation opinions now!