Why acronyms are annoying

Why acronyms are annoying

Posted by Rich Jinks
Picture of Rich Jinks
on 15 June 2016
Advice How to write Writing

‘I feel that barely a day goes by that somebody doesn’t toss a new acronym at me and react with surprise when I don’t recognize it,’ writes Kate Taylor.

Sound familiar? It might well do for your readers. 

SaaS, CRM, DDoS, ERP, PBX: the number of acronyms currently circulating the business world is FUBAR. Using them might save you two seconds of typing, but what about your reader? How long will it take them to figure out what you're talking about?

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Hang on – why not just Google it?

Google it? SMH. I wish it were that simple. So many acronyms use the same letters that choosing the right one is like picking a meal from a pub menu: the choice is as extensive as it is agonising.

So you say your business relies on a BDM? Let’s check acronym finder. Ah, that must be the barn door mafia, then. Or … is it black divorced male? No wait, maybe it means bachelor of dental medicine? Business development manager sounds right but then so does background debugger mode.

All this time, your readers are away from your web page trying to find the answer for a question they shouldn’t have to ask. Force your readers to ‘Google it’ and they might just search for another article instead.

Acronyms kill clarity

You might think your personas will definitely know what ROI is, but what's to say they didn't miss the memo? It doesn’t matter if your acronym is as popularly used as SMB or IPO, there’s one rule you must always follow: ADIB (always define in brackets).

Most of your readers aren’t highly experienced members of your profession. In fact, that’s probably exactly why they’re coming to your website for advice. Acronyms are annoying, but they're far worse than that: use them without explanation and you risk excluding your earliest leads and killing your marketing process.

So, learn how to write for your audience. Always be clear with your readers, and they’ll always get the information they came to your website for. Accessibility isn’t dumbing down; it’s stronger marketing.

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