What is FYI (For your Information)? Definition and examples

We use the term FYI, pronunciation /ɛfwaɪˈaɪ/, when we are sharing non-urgent information with somebody. FYI stands for ‘For Your Information.’ By using the term, we are indirectly indicating that nobody needs to take any immediate action. The aim of the informer is simply to let somebody know, i.e., to give them the ‘heads up.’

We use the term FYI when we direct information to a specific individual or group. It is an informal term that we commonly use in messages or memos.

Regarding when people use the term, TechTarget writes:

“It usually means that information is simply being shared and that no immediate action is required or expected.”

The term often has the same meaning as BTW, which stands for ‘By The Way.’

Not only do we use the abbreviation in writing, but also when we talk to people.

FYI - For Your Information
If you are telling somebody something that is not important, using FYI is probably appropriate. However, if the message is urgent, you should not use it.

FYI – non-urgent information

We would not use it for super-urgent information. For example, this would be an inappropriate use of the term: “FYI, if you don’t call him, you will lose your house.”

In that case the receiver of the information must take urgent action. It would be more appropriate to write the message as follows: “Urgent: if you don’t call him, you will lose your house!”

FYI – informal

It is a friendly and informal term. We would not, for example, use it in legal documentation or official contracts.

A résumé, for example, should not have any FYIs in it. A résumé is a page containing all relevant information about a job applicant.

People use the term in e-mails, memos, instant messaging, and in a note that we give to somebody by hand.

In an email, for example, it may appear in the message subject. When it does, it suggests that the receiver may find the information interesting.

However, the information is not urgent, and the receiver does not need to do anything.

FYI is much older than most people think. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it dates back to 1941.

Wikipedia says that a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone, ‘One for the Angels,’ used it.

It is much more common now than it was a couple of decades ago. Since people started sending messages on their smartphones, abbreviations and short-form nicknames have become much more common.

FYI – Internet Engineering Task Force

FYIs are a subset of the Request for Comments series among the Internet Standards. The Network Working Group, part of the Internet Engineering Task Force, wrote the following:

“The FYI series of notes is designed to provide Internet users with a central repository of information about any topics which relate to the Internet.”

“FYIs topics may range from historical memos on ‘Why it was done this way’ to answers to commonly asked operational questions.”