I've seen the internet slang TL;DR many times in the internet, and as I can see people used it pretty much in the present day.

Can I use it in a formal email to a client?

  • 16
    Do you use slang in a formal email? – Matt E. Эллен Oct 10 '14 at 11:08
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    I use SUMMARY (bold, all caps as a header) to review important points. It is a drop-in replacement for TL;DR and anchors one's eye to the "Get to the point" of the email. In that case, it would be appropriate in a formal email. – SrJoven Oct 10 '14 at 11:40
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    @Chenmunka I think this definitely falls under English Language Usage. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Oct 10 '14 at 12:18
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    Is this really "opinion-based"? Would anyone really claim that "TL;DR" is compatible with a formal written register? – snailcar Oct 10 '14 at 14:24
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    RELATED: What does 'TL;DR' mean and how is it used? The top answer explains brilliantly how TL;DR is most often used and in which contexts. – Mari-Lou A Nov 24 '14 at 8:16

You can use the CONCEPT of a tl;dr in a formal mail. just don't NAME it that. Call it "summary" or a similar term. Clients will love a short and to the point conclusion, because it means they don't need to read a 50 line email if they can't or don't want to. If they want to know more, they can read the rest, but if they are preparing for a meeting or are running low on battery power on their iPhone, they aren't interested in a small novel.

Just remember to be polite in the summary. Don't say anything in there that can be seen as offensive to another party, even if they don't read all of it. But that goes for all formal correspondence.

Anecdote to explain that last part: A blog on weird code and situations developers encounter has a story about a developer who in their mail said something like (including linebreaks added by Jannet's client):

Something is wrong in the development platform. The code written by
Jannet needs to be beaten into submission. I'll do that tomorrow.

Jannet saw a line starting with her name and understandably thought she was being threatened with violence. Fortunately, they could get the problem resolved the next day.

  • This is the answer that I'm looking for. Thanks! You explain it very well. – Cary Bondoc Oct 13 '14 at 0:16


You cannot use TL;DR in a formal email to a client.

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    You can but you shouldn't – Ste Oct 10 '14 at 11:41
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    @Ste: you can try, but then what you've written won't be a formal email. :) – Max Oct 10 '14 at 13:11

I imagine that my internet and email usage is significantly higher than for many of my generation but despite being familiar with most shorthand, I've not previously seen TL;DR . My point is simply that, in a formal letter, you probably want to be certain (not merely "reasonably sure") that the person to whom you are writing will know what you mean. And you don't want them to be in the position of having to do a Google search to discover your message ... and now I'm about to do the search myself!

  • You probably want to make this a comment on the question since it doesn't really attempt to answer it. – Mitch Oct 10 '14 at 11:48
  • Too Long; Didn't Read. It's a tongue in cheek way to present a summary of a long post to people who might otherwise go "Too Long; Didn't Read". – Tim B Oct 10 '14 at 12:28
  • TL;DR : No. :-) – T.E.D. Oct 10 '14 at 13:07
  • I would use it on watsapp, twitter..not in formal e-mails to client. – weakphoneme Oct 10 '14 at 13:17
  • This is especially true if the clients are non-native speakers. Italians barely understand LOL let alone TL;DR. BTW LOL means laughing out loud, instead many Italians think this is an onomatopoeic word. – Mari-Lou A Oct 10 '14 at 13:49

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