If you’ve spent time on online forums or in the comment sections of news websites or social media posts, chances are you’ve come across Internet shorthand “TLDR”.
What does TLDR stand for
TLDR is a common online abbreviation that stands for “Too Long Didn’t Read”. If this sounds a little rude or passive aggressive, you are rightfully sensing one of its uses; this is often how TLDR is used in response to densely worded online articles. Although TLDR is the most common use, you may also see the semicolon inserted in the acronym, as in: “TL; DR”.
Like most memes and acronyms, the origins of TLDR are obscure, although the Merriam-Webster dictionary cites the first known use in 2002. The meaning of the acronym is pretty obvious, however, and can generally be taken as a letter: It’s a quick way of saying that the article, post, or reference message is so long that it wasn’t worth reading in full.
When to use TLDR in an enterprise environment
TLDR is an informal acronym and as such, you should be very careful about using it professionally; consider your audience and their comfort level with internet slang. A good rule of thumb is that you wouldn’t use “TLDR” anywhere you wouldn’t feel comfortable writing “LOL” (laughing out loud) or an equally informal acronym.
There is probably no scenario where you should respond to professional messages with “TLDR”. As mentioned, this is easily perceived as sarcastic, rude and unprofessional.
Even so, it may be appropriate to use TLDR within your communication to report your summary. For example, you could put a header called “TLDR” at the top of a long email and follow it with a bulleted list that summarizes your main points.
Or, if you are adding a link to a third-party article, you can add TLDR brackets with a short summary, such as “Check out this article (TLDR: is a summary of how APIs work).”
Regardless, it’s best to err on the side of caution if you fear that using TLDR is too informal for your audience.