What Is 'TLDR'?

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Question: What Is 'TLDR'? 

Answer: TLDR stands for 'Too Long, Didn't Read'.

This is a web expression for saying one of two things:

  1. 'the posting above me is way too lengthy to keep my interest', or
  2. 'here is a summary of the lengthy text that follows'

In the first usage of TLDR, it is a personal comment that is not quite an insult, but rather a suggestion that the user above should consider abbreviating their writing more.

This is used whenever the previous poster submitted more than a couple of paragraphs in an online conversation.

In the second usage, TLDR is a helpful subject line summary, where the poster offers a one-sentence or two-sentence summary of the the many paragraphs to follow. This is when experienced discussion users understand that very people actually read long content, and they want to offer the gist of their argument at the top of the lengthy posting. TLDR is most commonly seen in very opinionated discussion forums, where the topics lend themselves to long rants. Controversial topics, like Barack Obama's healthcare policies, climate change, immigration, or the ethics of speeding in the city, can easily lure people to write hundreds of words of heated opinion. 

Example of TLDR Expression:

(User 2) ...so, if you look at the above 17 cited instances, you cannot deny that climate change is a reality.

(User 1) TLDR

(User 2) So, you're too lazy to actually read the evidence posted here?

(User 1) Yup.

Example of TLDR Expression:

(User 1) I'm going to quote several paragraphs from the Criminal Code of Justice around speeding on interstates. TL;DR version: yes, the state police and the local counties can jail you for up to 72 hours if you are speeding on an interstate.

This TLDR expression, like many other internet expressions, is part of online conversation culture.

If you want to know more, here are 322 other common web expressions explained.

How to Capitalize and Punctuate Web and Texting Abbreviations: 

Capitalization is a non-concern when using text message abbreviations and chat jargon. You are welcome use all uppercase (e.g. ROFL) or all lowercase (e.g. rofl), and the meaning is identical. Avoid typing entire sentences in uppercase, though, as that means shouting in online speak.

Proper punctuation is similarly a non-concern with most text message abbreviations. For example, the abbreviation for 'Too Long, Didn't Read' can be abbreviated as TL;DR or as TLDR. Both are acceptable format, with or without punctuation.

Never use periods (dots) between your jargon letters. It would defeat the purpose of speeding up thumb typing. For example, ROFL would never be spelled R.O.F.L., and TTYL would never be spelled T.T.Y.L. 

Recommended Etiquette for Using Web and Texting Jargon 

Knowing when to use jargon in your messaging is about knowing who your audience is, knowing if the context is informal or professional, and then using good judgment. If you know the people well, and it is a personal and informal communication, then absolutely use abbreviation jargon.

On the flip side, if you are just starting a friendship or professional relationship with the other person, then it is a good idea to avoid abbreviations until you have developed a relationship rapport.

If the messaging is in a professional context with someone at work, or with a customer or vendor outside your company, then avoid abbreviations altogether. Using full word spellings shows professionalism and courtesy. It is much easier to err on the side of being too professional and then relax your communications over time than doing the inverse.