80+ Text Abbreviations & When to Use Them

July 02, 2021
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While we may not always use a text abbreviation in real life or face-to-face conversations, it has become a language of its own in instant messaging and social media.

Text abbreviations are shortened versions of commonly used words to help save characters in text messages, whereas acronyms are used to shorten entire phrases.

Messages are generally limited to 160 characters per SMS. Abbreviations and acronyms became a part of messaging culture out of necessity, keeping texts, social media posts, and other forms of messaging from becoming too long and exceeding character limits.

Though most smartphones can now send and receive messages containing up to 1600 characters, best practices still dictate that senders keep as close to 160 characters per message as possible. Using acronyms in your messaging strategy not only helps create a friendly relationship with your customers but also helps you stay within the character limit.

When to use text abbreviations

The text abbreviations you send to friends or significant others may not be the same ones you’d use in marketing or professional communications. Depending on your brand persona and audience, sending a mass text using “LOL” or “OMG” can help to create a more friendly, casual relationship with your customers. If your brand utilizes a more formal voice, this may be completely inappropriate.

Know your audience and persona

Think about your favorite retail brand. What makes its voice unique? What about its brand persona allows it (or doesn’t allow it) to use abbreviations?

The following message is from a haircare brand that embraces a lighthearted, casual brand voice in its messaging strategy.


The tone of this text is fun and casual while keeping the message itself short and simple: “Score up to 50% off your fav products, kits and merch while you can.”

This brand utilizes abbreviations (fav and merch) seamlessly. The abbreviations aren’t intrusive or distracting from the core purpose of the message, largely because the brand doesn’t call attention to them, and the abbreviations work well with the brand’s voice, established in the first sentence of the text. Promotional and marketing messages provide the perfect opportunity to play with acronyms and abbreviations, as these are usually more casual messages.

For contrast, let’s check out this example from Xfinity.


While still friendly and personable, Xfinity maintains a more formal brand voice, making text acronyms feel out of place in a message like this. The only abbreviation in the message is in the disclaimer at the bottom about messaging rates, notably separate from the main copy of the text.

If your brand sends more informational SMS campaigns rather than promotional messages, it may not be appropriate to incorporate abbreviations. When recipients subscribe to informational SMS messages, they’re not necessarily looking for the same creativity required from marketing texts. The US Global Messaging Report found that 47% of recipients across four generations are more likely to engage with an SMS that contains important information. That being said, don’t be afraid to try using acronyms and abbreviations, especially when you’re running low on characters!

DO use acronyms when …

DON’T use acronyms when …

If you decide to utilize acronyms and abbreviations, it can be overwhelming to try to remember all of the different variations. After all, there are thousands out there! We’ve compiled a list of all of the commonly used English acronyms and abbreviations we run into online to help guide your SMS strategy.

Common text abbreviations and acronyms

  • Abbr: Abbreviation
  • Abt: About
  • Adr: Address
  • AFAIK: As far as I know
  • AFK: Away from keyboard
  • AMA: Ask me anything
  • ASAP: As soon as possible
  • ATM: At the moment
  • BAK: Back at keyboard
  • BC, B/C: Because
  • Bday/B-Day: Birthday
  • BFF(S): Best friend(s) forever
  • BRB: Be right back
  • BTW: By the way
  • B2B: Business to business
  • B2C: Business to consumer, business to customer
  • DIY: Do it yourself
  • DM: Direct message
  • EOD: End of the day
  • EOW: End of the week
  • ETA: Estimated time of arrival
  • Fave/Fav: Favorite
  • FAQ: Frequently asked question(s)
  • FB: Facebook
  • FBF: Flashback Friday
  • FOMO: Fear of missing out
  • FTW: For the win
  • FWIW: For what it’s worth
  • FYI: For your information
  • GOAT: Greatest of all time
  • Gr8: Great
  • GTG/G2G: Got to go
  • HBD: Happy birthday
  • HMU: Hit me up
  • ICYMI: In case you missed it
  • IDC: I don’t care
  • IDK: I don’t know
  • IG: Instagram
  • IIRC: If I recall correctly, if I remember correctly
  • IK: I know
  • IKR: I know right
  • ILY: I love you
  • ILYSM/LYSM: I love you so much, love you so much
  • IM: Instant message
  • IMO, IMHO: In my opinion, in my humble opinion
  • IRL: In real life
  • JK: Just kidding
  • JW: Just wondering
  • LI: LinkedIn
  • LMAO: Laugh(ing) my a** off
  • LMK: Let me know
  • LOL: Laugh(ing) out loud
  • Merch: Merchandise
  • Msg: Message, messages
  • NBD: No big deal
  • NP: No problem
  • NVM: Never mind
  • OFC: Of course
  • OMG: Oh my gosh, oh my God
  • OMW: On my way
  • OTT: Over the top
  • PLMK: Please let me know
  • Pls: Please
  • Ppl: People
  • ROFL: Rolling on the floor laughing
  • SC: Snapchat
  • SMH: Shake(ing) my head
  • Srsly: Seriously
  • TBH: To be honest
  • TBT: Throwback Thursday
  • TFW: That face when, that feeling when, that feel when
  • TGIF: Thank goodness it’s Friday, thank God it’s Friday
  • Thx: Thanks, thank you
  • TIA: Thanks in advance
  • TIL: Today I learned
  • TMI: Too much information
  • TTYL: Talk to you later
  • TY: Thank you
  • WE, W/E: Whatever
  • Wkd: Weekend
  • W/O: Without
  • YOLO: You only live once
  • YT: YouTube
  • XOXO: Kisses and hugs
  • 2: to, two, too
  • 2nite: Tonight

Don’t forget personalization

Using acronyms and abbreviations in your messages can be a great tool to help you save valuable real estate in your messages and create a more personal relationship between your brand and your customers. In Twilio SendGrid’s US Messaging Engagement Report, 22% of recipients ranked impersonalized messages in the top 5 reasons they were turned off by text messages. In addition to the traditional personalization of messages (like addressing the recipient by name), creating familiarity with customers through copy is invaluable and can help keep customers engaged.

“I wish SMS messages would be different each time. Not just the same type of promo or info that they sent to everyone. If it was more personalized, that would also be better.” (US Messaging Engagement Report, US participant, Gen X)

Start by testing text abbreviations

There isn’t a perfect formula or equation that can determine whether or not your brand should utilize more abbreviations in your text messaging strategy. If you’re unsure whether text abbreviations fit with your brand voice, start small by testing them in new SMS marketing campaigns. It’s important not to make a drastic change overnight, though, as a massive shift toward abbreviations and acronyms may seem jarring to your recipients. No matter what, you always want to sound like yourself. This will make you recognizable to your customers.

When you’re ready to start sending SMS messages, Twilio has everything you need to get started. Talk to an expert or start building for free today.