FOC: A Tip For Writers

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” ~ Cool Hand Luke

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Mixed media illustration by Ed Newman

Yesterday I was on the receiving end of a sales pitch from a Canadian magazine in the auto industry. It was actually a follow-up to an earlier letter, and it included the mysterious acronym FOC.

I suppose I should have figured it out, but did not get it. It reminded me of some Communications classes I’ve taught. I always have a section on acronymns in which I explicitly point out that not everyone knows what all the acronyms that we use mean.

Every industry has its acronyms, which insiders all know and outsiders frequently don’t. The entire stock exchange is a mish mash of three and four letter “words” if you can call them that, which do not always have a clean tie to the companies they represent. In the oil industry, SAE and API are bandied about with regularity, but I can’t say for sure people know what we’re referring to when we say these.

And so, to discover what FOC means, I Googled it. Here’s the list, which is significantly longer than I first imagined.

FOC Acronyms Defined
FOC Full Operational Capability (DoD acquisition term to depict when a specific activity reaches maturity)
FOC Face of Curb
FOC Facilities Operations Committee
FOC Factor of Cooperation
FOC Factory Outlet Center
FOC Faint Object Camera (Hubble Telescope)
FOC Fall Off Chair
FOC Fall Out of Chair
FOC Family of Companies
FOC Farthest-On Circle
FOC Father of Chapel (senior trades union official SOGAT & NGA)
FOC Father of Child
FOC Fear Of Commitment
FOC Fear Of Controlling (air traffic control)
FOC Federation Orientation Committee (University of Waterloo, California)
FOC Fell Off Chair
FOC FEMA Operations Center
FOC Ferrari Owners Club
FOC Festival of Celebration
FOC Fiber Optic Cable
FOC Fiber Optic Communications
FOC Fiber Optic Component
FOC Fiber Optic Connector
FOC Fiber Optical Characterization
FOC Field Operations Center
FOC Field Oriented Control
FOC Fin Opener Crank (missile assembly tool)
FOC Final Operational Capability
FOC Financial Operations Center
FOC Firing Officer Console
FOC Firm Order Commitment
FOC Firm Order Confirmation
FOC First Class CW Operator’s Club (UK)
FOC First Office Call (medical appointment)
FOC Fisheries and Oceans Canada
FOC Flag of Convenience
FOC Fleet Operations Center
FOC Flex-on-Cap
FOC Flight Operations Center
FOC Flight Operations Committee (IATA)
FOC Flux Cutting (welding)
FOC Focus
FOC Follow-On Contract
FOC Force Organization Chart (gaming)
FOC Foreign Object Check
FOC Foreign Operating Companies
FOC FORSCOM Operations Center
FOC Forward Only Conversion (radio control cars)
FOC Free Of Charge
FOC Friends of Carlotta (from movie ‘Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’)
FOC Friends of Colombia (Peace Corps alumni)
FOC Friends of Cry
FOC Friends of the Carpenters (non-profit ministry)
FOC Front-Of-Counter
FOC Frontal-Occipital Circumference
FOC Full and Open Competition
FOC Full Operational Clearance
FOC Furthest-On Circle
FOC Future Operating Capability
FOC Future Operational Capability
FOC Future Operations Cell
FOC Fuzhou City (China)
FOC Fail over Cluster
FOC Force Output Compare

Whether we’re bloggers or writers or sales people or simply writing emails to friends, let’s keep in mind that one key to good communication is that the hearer or reader understands what we’re talking about. Acronyms and buzz words can obscure. Our aim, at least mine, is for my words to illuminate. There is enough fog in the world right now.

Am I making myself clear? Let there be light!

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Many of my posts at Ennyman’s Territory offer tips for writers, like this one which originally appeared in September 2008.

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