An Introduction to Internet Shorthand (With Free Cheat Sheet)

Internet ShorthandLTNS; HRU? GR8? G2K. ZUP?

Have you ever run across gibberish like this and wondered just what, exactly, it means?!?

This is an example of internet shorthand, or “text speak”, “chatspeak”, “cyber slang”, “chat acronyms”, “SMS texting language”, “netspeak”, etc.

As you can see, it is in no way confined to the internet, but is also extensively used when texting, and even pops up in our everyday spoken conversations.

Internet shorthand is little more than an attempt save time by reducing keystrokes, although there are cases in which it actually increases the number of keystrokes.

The concept primarily involves using acronyms for commonly-used phrases, and can result in absolute chaos for those of us unfamiliar with the language.

Here’s the thing: I don’t even like internet shorthand. In fact, I go to great lengths to try and avoid using it beyond the occasional “LOL” (laughed out loud) and “BRB” (be right back).

When someone else uses internet shorthand to write to me, I usually need a translator, so instead of enlisting my sister’s help (which is what I normally do), I compiled a rather extensive list of shorthand that I made into a cheat sheet, available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers.

Context is usually the best key to interpreting internet shorthand, but it’s rarely enough.

Hopefully this cheat sheet will help you to interpret the next cryptic conversation that you have — or if nothing else, allow you to translate the first line of this post!

LOL Speak

I used to think that LOL speak was the “same thing” as text speak, but as it turns out… I was wrong.

LOL speak is more of a “cutesy” method of writing, making use of phonetic spelling and/or just plain mis-spelling and transposing of words.

Example: i can has itteh bitteh kitteh?

Translation: Can I have a kitten?


While we’re on the subject, I should probably mention one specific variation of shorthand (which is actually not related, and more of a long-hand!) called leetspeak.

Leetspeak is a internet language that makes use of numbers and special characters to replace standard letters in words, such as: |-|0\/\/ U D01|\|9? (Translation: How u doing?)

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