Email Basics: COB Meaning in Email (And More!)

Melanie Balke
April 29, 2024

Email marketing is filled with abbreviations.

You’re always looking at different key performance indicators (KPIs) and determining your return on investment (ROI). You’re managing your reputation with internet service providers (ISPs) and tweaking your content to boost click-through rates (CTRs).

However, before you touch any of those abbreviations, you must first know some commonly used business language. “COB” is one of many entries in the dictionary of workplace shorthand. It’s been used in old-fashioned printed memos, fax machine messages, and every other business communication possible. So, what does it mean?

Today, as I continue my look into email basics, I’ll be investigating some of the most commonly used business shorthand. These strings of letters may seem like nonsense, but they have meaning. More importantly, they signify important information you must know to perform your job!

How Shorthand Is Used in Business Communication

Assorted letters for a printing press. “The Basics: What Does COB Mean?”

In some ways, business abbreviations resemble Gen Z slang. They approach a sense of informality and may seem unprofessional. However, they were once essential methods for facilitating business communication. In the days of typewriters, pens, and papers, abbreviations improved the efficiency of inter-office communication. Outside of the office, when cross-country memos were necessary, abbreviations kept the cost of telegrams low.

Later, as mobile phones and pagers trickled into workplaces, abbreviations remained essential. After all, everyone was working with limited space and clunky number pads! Sending “ASAP” saved you fourteen characters and many more button presses. Even a few minutes matter in today’s fast-paced world!

Common Business Abbreviations

Of the many abbreviations used, few are as important as clarifying statements. These abbreviations alert recipients of due dates, deadlines, and task updates. While modern email clients can easily manage longer messages, many professionals continue using older abbreviations when communicating with one another.

Among the most important abbreviations to know are:

  • End of Day (EOD): Used to notify recipients that the deadline for a project or an expected update will happen by the end of the business day.
  • In a Meeting (IAM): This courtesy notification is usually appended to automated responses. An “IAM” status is often used on Slack or internal servers to avoid undue intrusions.
  • No Reply Necessary (NRN): This shorthand efficiently notifies recipients of a message’s intent. An NRN message is likely an update or notification and requires no additional input.
  • Non-Work Related (NRW): Internal chit-chat is often flagged as NWR. These emails are usually more personal and informal. You likely won’t see important business matters in an NRW email thread.
  • Out of Office (OOO): “OOO” is often appended to an email subject line or shared event. Most OOO messages are automated. You can often expect an OOO message whenever a colleague goes on vacation.
  • Request for Discussion (RFD): The opposite of an NRN message. When someone adds RFD, they want recipients to discuss the issue and come to a satisfactory conclusion.
  • To Be Determined (TBD): Often used similarly to COB and EOD, a TBD notice indicates an uncertain scheduling scenario. TBD deadlines are often placed on non-essential or low-priority tasks. However, if a high-priority project is ever flagged as TBD, you should watch closely for any additional response.
  • With Regards To (WRT): “WRT” is usually added to subject lines and postscript notices to ensure clear communication. It is often used similarly to “Re:” to start a discussion. Some read the abbreviation as “with respect to.”

What Does COB Mean?

“COB” is similar to “EOD.” Technically, it’s an abbreviation for “close of business.” However, it usually means that something is expected before the end of regular business hours. Most office workers can safely assume that both COB and EOD meant “before 5:00 PM.”

Notably, national and international brands will have slightly different meanings for “end of day.”

Many brands operate according to a single time zone—usually that of their headquarters. Thus, if a company is headquartered in California, a Virginian recipient should assume “COB” means 8:00 PM in their local time. However, it’s never wrong to ask those involved for clarification if you’re ever uncertain.

Fortunately, most brands avoid confusion by establishing clear guidelines. In addition to using the local time of brand headquarters, businesses may adhere to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) to keep everyone on the same page.

Close of business (COB) and end of day (EOD) are often used interchangeably. In both situations, you can safely assume that the sender expects something before 5:00 PM.

Learn More About Emails and Other Business Communication

Most business abbreviations are straightforward. While they may seem archaic, these shorthand statements facilitate efficient business discussions. They provide additional context for essential requests without requiring extensive explanations.

As an email marketing expert, I’m constantly interacting with business owners. I encounter abbreviations constantly. That’s why I’m dedicated to simplifying the world of emails.

You can learn more about efficiently communicating by browsing the rest of my blog. I also encourage you to schedule a free strategy session to investigate the possibilities of email marketing.