FAQ – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you wondering what the ‘FAQ‘ page is on a website map? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The acronym ‘FAQ’ stands for ‘Frequently Answered Questions’. It’s commonly used in website maps, articles, emails, and PDFs. FAQs are questions repeatedly asked by users reading your material. You use FAQs to reduce the time spent answering common questions issued to you by interested parties.

FAQs refer to queries asked by newcomers relating to knowledge gaps. The purpose of an FAQ is to provide information on common concerns or questions. It’s a way of organizing important information in one place that’s easy for people to find.

The FAQ consists of short questions and answers to obvious questions. By issuing an FAQ, you assist the reader with learning basic information pertinent to the general topic they’re researching.

Example Usage

“I really wish people would read the FAQ before sending us an email. We need to position it somewhere different on the site where people can see it.”

“Check the FAQ page. You’ll probably find your answer there. If it isn’t in the FAQ, we’ll have to phone the head office for the answer.”

“I always check the FAQ before I reach for the phone or type an email to the company. I usually find what I’m looking for in the FAQ, but that’s not always the case.”

“The FAQ section has everything you need to know about how to get started with your account. If you have any other inquiries, please reach out to the customer service department.”

“Our FAQ covers all the basic information involved with the process. Speak to your team leader if you have any questions or queries regarding how to start.”

“Are you sure you read through the frequently asked questions on the site? I’ll look like an idiot if the answer is already in the FAQ.”

“Look through the FAQ. I’m sure I saw the answer you’re looking for there. Check it out and let me know.”

Origin

The abbreviation ‘FAQ’ might seem like a new acronym introduced by the business world. However, that’s not the case. The expression has a long history in English, stretching back to ‘The Discovery of Witches,’ written by Matthew Hopkins in 1648. It was originally used in a list of questions and answers titled “Certain Queries Answered.”

The first use of the acronym online was in mailing lists used in 1982 and 1985 by Eugene Miya. It would feature on DARPANET’s SPACE mailing list in the 1980s, allowing users to download past message archives in FTP. However, users rarely downloaded the list, choosing to post their questions to the mailing list instead of searching the SPACE archives.

The first weekly FAQ posted online was by Jef Poskanzer, while Eugene Miya was the first to experiment with a daily FAQ list.

Phrases Similar to FAQ

  • Common questions.

Phrases Opposite to FAQ

  • N/A.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • FAQ.
  • Frequently Asked Questions.

Ways People May Say FAQ Incorrectly

The acronym ‘FAQ’ refers to ‘Frequently Asked Questions.’ You’ll use an FAQ to help people find answers to common questions. It’s not suitable for posting niche or bespoke questions you don’t field regularly.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase FAQ

You can use the acronym ‘FAQ’ on websites and information pages where you want to answer frequently asked questions by people visiting your website. Posting an FAQ page on your site lets people get answers to their inquiries without having to reach out to you via email or phone. It saves the visitor time and effort, and you don’t have to keep answering the same question repeatedly.

It suits formal business use in informational pamphlets, PSAs, or websites. FAQ is a well-understood term and is used in all categories and genres. For instance, you could write an FAQ on diving gear or on the best method to bake a cake. Publishing an FAQ reduces the work you must do to repeatedly reply to the same questions.

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