Short forms in business


Short forms in

Business Communications


Below are some frequently used short forms in

business communication like e-mails, faxes and letters:


a.k.a . – also known as

On Monday morning, Kay El, a.k.a. The Boss,

walked in happily and greeted her assistant, Pee Jay.

approx. – approximately

Checking her e-mail, Pee Jay read,

“Today is the boss’s birthday.

Can everyone please slip off quietly to the cafeteria in approx.. 15 minutes?”


ASAP – as soon as possible

Pee Jay opened up her daily planner and scribbled ASAP

next to some of the urgent items on her to-do list.


Attn . – for the attention of

Leafing through the stack of mail to be sent out,

Pee Jay asked her boss,

“To whom should I address the cheque for the annual report?”

Her boss replied,

“Just write ‘Attn: Ms. Christine Jalleh’.

 She’ll know what to do with it.”


Bcc . – blind carbon copy or blind copy to.

In this case, the carbon copy is sent to an e-mail recipient

whose e-mail address is not visible to the cc or other bcc recipients.

“By the way, I think it’s better if you bcc me in your e-mail to Brown.

We wouldn’t want him thinking that I’m supervising you for this project.”


Cc . – carbon copy, or copy to

“But I would like to be cc-ed on the e-mail to Mr Green

 as I have not yet introduced the both of you to each other.”


c/o – in care of, used when sending a document to A

who will receive it on B’s behalf because B is away from the office

“Boss, I think Christine is back in China this week.

Would it be all right if I sent the cheque in care of her assistant?

I’ll still write her name on top with c/o Ah Sis Tern below.”


COD – cash on delivery,

where a person makes payment for an item purchase after it has been delivered.


“I’m also sending out the cheque for the set of Business English

reference books we bought COD on eBay.”


e.g . – exempli gratia (for example)

Pee Jay replied to the e-mail,

“Hi everyone. Please remember that the boss doesn’t like surprises,

e.g. everyone shouting ‘Surprise!’ in the cafeteria.”


et al. – et alii (and others).

Usually used to list co-authors after the lead author in a bibliography,

this form is now popularly used to address the other people other

than the recipient in e-mails.

She received a new e-mail, which read,

“Dear Pee Jay et al., I was reminded that the boss does NOT like surprises …”


etc. – et cetera (and so on OR and so forth)


This means that we will not be able to collectively surprise her

by springing out of the cafeteria doors as we had planned, etc.


exc. – excep

“Can everyone, exc. Pee Jay, be at the cafeteria in 5 minutes?

We need to figure out a surprise without the surprise element. Thanks!”


FYI – for your information


Her boss’s voice brought the young assistant back to the present,

 “Pee Jay, I’m forwarding you all these e-mails FYI, okay?”


FYA – for your action

“Note that some of these e-mails are FYA …”


i.e . – id est (that is)

After acknowledging her supervisor,

Pee Jay decided to help her colleagues out and typed,

“She’s in a good mood today, i.e. we won a new account and completed a major project.”


K – thousand, e.g. 450K = 450,000

“Just to give you an idea of her mood,

it’s a 450K retainer for the first quarter …”


PA – personal assistant

The immediate reply to Pee Jay’s e-mail read,

 “Thanks for the info, Pee Jay – you’re the best PA!”


p.a. – per annum (per year)

Pee Jay smiled and responded,

“Haha, there is a reason why I’m paid RM65K p.a.”


p.p. – per pro (used when signing a document on someone’s behalf)

Looking back at her paperwork,

Pee Jay signed some invoices on her boss’s behalf,

inserting p.p. just before her signature.


Pto. – please turn over, used at the end of a page to indicate that there is a continuity to the text.


“By the way, please remember to type Pto. on the first page of the proposal you’re sending. The last time we sent it to him, he forgot to read the subsequent pages,” chimed in Kay El.


viz . – videlicet, namely


She got up and left a note on Pee Jay’s work station before leaving. Scribbled on it was, “Can I pass you my slice of birthday cake after I cut it? I really don’t need a lot of carbo, viz. refined flour, at my age.” The note ended with a wink.



  1. Christine Jalleh said

    Uncle Teng – You have copied my original article and pasted it in whole here on your website.

    Could you please acknowledge the fact that I am the original author? If not, you are guilty of plagiarism, which is an important matter in the learning of English.

    • Uncle Teng said

      Thanks for your article. I pasted it here for the convenience of my students. As I have stated in my blog, the articles there are collections that I have come across and found it useful not only for my students but for all to share. If you want a link back to your page, I’ll be glad to do it. This I have done it. Or if you want it deleted, I am oblige to remove it.
      My sincere apology and a thousand thanks for using it.

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