How tl;dr Optimizes Organizations’ Internal Communications

tl;dr – how to summarize lengthy internal communications to improve efficiency within an organization

tl;dr is a shorthand used to summarize lengthy online posts and responses. Tl;dr is basically a summary placed above the meat of the content so readers get a quick overview before spending time reading the whole thing. The earliest known usage of tl;dr took place in a small forum in 2003. Since then, the term’s popularity has exploded; although many people still don’t know what it means—tl;dr too long; didn’t read.


While originally coming from online discussion boards like Reddit and Fark, the idea can be used in business. It’s a simple concept, but when used properly it can save your team a lot of time. Keep this concept in mind the next time you need to make an announcement.

At Applum, the majority of our most productive work takes place independently. This requires consistent and effective group communication to keep everyone on the same page. In some larger companies, executives often write lengthy memos and directives, which risks going unread. For the team members who actually produce the work, these lengthy essays distract from their productivity. Every team member doesn’t need to read every single line of every boring memo. Help your employees identify relevant information quickly by using the tl;dr philosophy.

Usage Example

In an hour long demo, there are many ideas, critiques, questions, and complaints that arise. There are also a few outcomes of the demo that can impact the business. I typically write a memo discussing these points, so we’re on the same page with the perception of the product. This can be summarized with tl;dr to keep the team members who need to know, informed. You don’t have to actually write the phrase tl;dr, but the philosophy can be carried through.

Report from an hour long demo with a potential client

tl;dr—Overall interested in product, will purchase when X feature is launched, suggested to build Y feature
[Detailed writeup of the conversation follows]

This clear and concise tl;dr addresses the overarching objectives of the demo. Did we sell them the product? If not, why the hell not? Is there anything we can build to enhance the tool?

Depending on an organization’s appetite for trivial details, the author can dive into overal interest and feedback on a variety of features in the following paragraphs. Team members who are interested in the client, or the demo, can quickly identify if they even need to read the tl;dr by reading the title. If they’re interested in the tl;dr, the paragraphs below will provide plenty of context.

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