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Acronyms are used everywhere, especially within companies, but their meaning is often a mystery to people outside or new to the company or new to a specific department within it.

When you need to know, Microsoft search can help you find the meaning of these arcane acronyms. You can use the search box in Bing, SharePoint, and or the Acronyms pane in Word. 

This is a subscriber-only featureThis feature is available to Enterprise Office 365 Subscribers only.

Use the search box

Use the search box in Bing, SharePoint, or to get results that include all of the meanings and definitions that are relevant to you and your organization. On any of these sites, just enter an acronym and keywords about meaning or definition in the search box. For example, you could search for the acronym "FTE" using any of the following queries:

  • What is FTE

  • define fte

  • FTE definition

  • expand FTE

  • fte expansion

  • meaning of fte

  • FTE means

The results show common meanings of "FTE" used at work. Note that your query must includes the acronym’s specified keywords to trigger its corresponding answers. Acronym queries are not case sensitive. 

Acronyms in search is available for the following languages: 

  • Bing:    English (EN), Spanish (ES), French (FR), Italian (IT), German (DE), and Portuguese (PT)

  • SharePoint and    US English (EN-US) only, with additional languages coming in the future

Use the Acronyms pane in Word

To help meet the acronym challenge, Word can display a list of the acronyms used in a document. 

To see a list of defined acronyms,

  1. Go to References > Acronyms.

  2. In the Acronyms pane, find the acronyms from your document with their definitions.

    To see where the acronym definition was found, select Found in a shared file, Found in your email, or Defined by your organization .

The Acronyms pane is available for:

  • Word for desktop:    US English (EN-US) only at this time, with additional languages coming in the future

  • Word for the web:    Any of the languages currently supported by Editor.

Insert definitions in Word for the web using Editor

When working in Word for the web, Editor will keep track of defined acronyms as you write.

To manage acronyms in Editor,

  1. On the Home tab, select Editor.

  2. In the Editor pane, under Refinements, note the number next to Acronyms.

  3. If there are any acronyms indicated there, click Acronyms to see them in your text. Word will take you to the first instance of any acronym in the document and select it.

  4. When you select an acronym in the text, Word offers possible definitions and other options. Do one of the following:

    • To write out the definition of an acronym, select the definition you want from the list. Word will insert the definition in parentheses following the acronym. Defining the first instance of an acronym in this way is a good writing practice.

    • To do nothing and have Word stop defining the acronym, select Ignore.

    • To move to the next or previous acronym in the text, click the right or left arrow.

When you've defined or ignored all acronyms that Editor noted in the text, you'll see the number next to Acronym change to a check mark.

Tip: If there are multiple instances of an acronym, Editor only highlights the first instance.

What's the source of acronym definitions?

Acronym definitions are extracted separately for each person from the emails and documents they have access to. IT admins can also add a list of acronyms and their definitions that are available to the whole organization.

When an acronym definition appears in the Acronyms pane, you'll see the source below it:  Found in a shared file, Found in your email, or Defined by your organization.

Who can see acronyms and their definitions?

You can only see acronyms and their definitions when you have access to the documents and emails that the acronym definitions are produced from.

Why can't I see the definitions for all acronyms?

Only defined acronyms are displayed. If an acronym from your document isn't shown, you may not have access to a document or email where the acronym is defined. It's also possible that we haven't found a definition of the acronym yet because the acronym extraction process only occurs every few days. 

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