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Common Circuit Board Component Abbreviations and PCB Terminologies

Abbreviations are commonly used across several industries, including the PCB and electronics industry. One thing about abbreviations is that they make communication easier. However, effective communication is when both parties understand the real meaning. The communication Age is more accurate.

Furthermore, the ability to send and receive meaningful information is crucial in our everyday lives. The PCB industry uses abbreviations more often. The fabrication of PCBAs depends on accurate and effective communication between board designers and assemblers. We have compiled a list of PCB abbreviations and terminologies in this article.

Common PCB Component Abbreviations


IC means integrated circuit. It is a chip or microchip fabricated as a single unit. Integrated circuit is a semiconductor-based electronic component that comprises capacitors, transistors, and resistors. An IC is an integral part of most modern electronic devices. An integrated circuit is an integrated system of several interconnected and miniaturized components fused in a semiconductor material.


Also known as ball grid array, BGA is a crucial component in PCB assembly. It is a surface-mount packaging utilized for integrated circuits. Also, BGA packages are permanently used to mount devices like microprocessors. The ball grid array has contributed to the advancement in electronic devices. This is because it utilizes less space in electronic devices.


Electromagnetic interference is a common terminology in the electronics industry. EMI refers to unwanted interference or noise in a circuit. This interference is usually caused by an external source. EMI can cause failure in a printed circuit board. EMI is the radio frequency interference.


Serial peripheral interface (SPI) enables serial exchange of information between two devices. One of them is a master while the other is a slave. Also, SPI functions in full duplex mode. Therefore, this means you can transfer data in both directions simultaneously.


Universal serial bus enables connections between computer and peripheral devices. It is an easy method of transmitting data between a host device and a peripheral device.  A USB enables the use of different devices.


Radio Frequency is the oscillation rate of electromagnetic radio waves between the range of 3kHZ and 300 GHz. Also, RF is widely used in several electronic applications such as cellular telephones, microwave, and satellite communications.


CAD refers to computer-aided design. It is the use of computer-based software to help in design processes.

Common Printed Circuit Board Terminologies

Understanding certain terminologies is important in the PCB industry. This can enhance communication among PCB designers and manufacturers. These are terminologies commonly used in the PCB industry:

Aspect ratio

This is the ratio between the thickness of a circuit board and diameter of its minimum via. Aspect ratio must be low as this enhances plating quality and reduces potential via failures.

Active components

Active components refer to a component that depends on the flow direction of an electrical current. For instance a valve and transistor are examples of active components. Also, active components depend on an external source of power to regulate electrical signals.

Component hole

A component hole in a PCB is drilled for a component. Also, these holes enhance a pin or component with an electric connection. Designers must always specify if a hole is a component hole. This is because the size of component holes is more crucial than a hole that won’t have component place in it.

Edge plating

Edge plating is a copper plating that connects the top to the bottom surface of a circuit board. Also, edge plating enables edge soldering and connections.


Automated optical inspection is a method of inspecting printed circuit boards. This inspection method detects possible problems as regards soldering performance in multi-layer circuit boards. Also, the AOI equipment discovers these issues by capturing the inner PCB surfaces. Therefore, it looks for any potential issues as regards polarity and displacement.

Functional test

Functional test is a software testing that verifies the functionality of software application. Also, this test helps to verify if an application has a defect or there is a missing requirement it needs. Functional test verifies if the function of an application works according to the required specification.

Other PCB Terminologies


Assembly house

This refers to a production facility where the assembly of PCBs and their components takes place. Also, an assembly house usually comprises PCBA equipment like reflow oven, mounter, and more.

Gerber file

A Gerber file is a CAM file type that controls a photoplotter. Also, the Gerber file is a good way of delivering information about a board specification to manufacturers. Gerber files are very crucial for fabricating printed circuit boards. Also, these files comprise information that guides the PCB manufacturer during PCB fabrication.


Electromagnetic compatibility deals with the ability of a system or a piece of equipment to function without generative excessive EMI. Also, EMC means a device is compatible with its electromagnetic environment. Therefore, it does not produce electromagnetic energy.


Silkscreen is a layer of epoxy ink on a PCB. It comprises the names and positions of components. Silkscreen has a label that directs engineers through the PCB assembly process. Silks screens are usually white. Therefore, this makes the labels stand out against the solder mask of the PCB.

Reference designator

Reference designator refers to the name of an electronic component on a circuit board. The component name usually begins with one letter or two. Therefore, these letters indicate the component class. Also, reference designators are mostly printed in the silkscreen. This helps to identify each component


This is a technical sketch that specifies the connections between PCB components. Also, schematic is an abstract representation of components rather than pictures. Schematics are the first crucial step in PCB design.

Membrane switch

A membrane switch specifies the functions of the circuit board and components like indicators, functions, and other parts. A PCB manufacturer applies a membrane switch to a PCBA. Also, the membrane protects the PCB by waterproofing.

Basic Electronic Components and Their Functions

Electronic components are commonly found in electronic devices.  Electronic components are in two major categories. These are passive components and active components. When fabricating a printed circuit board, you will need a number of active and passive electronic components. However, it is important you identify these components. Here are some examples of active and passive electronic components:

Active electronic components


Transistors have three terminals that allow you to easily identify them. These electronic components regulate voltage or current flow. Also, they are semiconductor devices that switch or amplify electrical signals and power. Transistors are the fundamental building blocks of most modern devices.


Diodes are electronic components that enable the flow or electric current in a single direction. Every diode features two terminals which are the cathode and anode. Electric current will flow when you charge the cathode with a negative voltage and the anode with a positive one. The reversion of these voltages will prevent the flow of current.

Integrated circuits

Integrated circuits are a thin small outline package of complex circuits. These passive electronic components are available in various sizes and packages. Also, ICs can function as an oscillator, amplifier, and a microprocessor. They are usually made of silicon. Also, they can hold several resistors, capacitors, and transistors. Integrated circuit package having two rows of pins is a dual in line package.


These are a single integrated circuit that features a microprocessor with memory and associated circuits. A microcontroller gets input and process the information. Therefore, it reacts and delivers outputs based on the data gathered.

 Microcontrollers consume less power. This is because they are inside other devices that consume power. Also, microcontrollers function at lower speeds between the range of 1MHz and 200MHz.

Passive electronic components


These electronic components regulate or limit electrical current flow in a circuit board. Also, resistors can offer specific voltage for an active component like a transistor. These electronic components are mostly found in many electrical circuits. Also, resistors have a fixed electrical resistance. A resistor is a passive electronic component.


These electronic components temporarily store electric charge. Also, these components are available in various forms. The electrolytic and ceramic disk are the most common types. The capacity of this capacitor is usually measured in microfarads.


Inductors are passive electronic components that save energy in a magnetic field. These components comprise a coil of wire tied around a core. Also, the core can be air or a magnet. A magnetic field forms around an inductor when current passes through it. If the core is a magnet, the magnetic field will be stronger.  Inductors are crucial for the performance of a printed circuit board.


Transformers are electrical devices that allow energy transfer between two or more circuits via electromagnetic induction. Also, transformers help to step down or step up power. Transformers are commonly used in a multi layer PCB.


These electronic components interrupt current. Switches control both the closing and opening of an electric circuit. These electronic components are critical in any circuit. Therefore, they require control or user interaction.  A switch comprises two pieces of metals that can touch or cannot touch.


Motors are passive electronic components that convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Also, motors function through the interaction between its electric current and magnetic field in a wire winding to produce force in torque form.

Electronic Components Name Abbreviations

Electronic components name abbreviations are commonly used in the electronic industry. Therefore, it is crucial to know these electronic components name abbreviations. We have compiled a list of electronic components name abbreviations in this section. Also, we included some through hole components.

  • AE: This means aerial or antenna
  • BR: This refers to bridge rectifier
  • CRT: CRT refers to cathode ray tube
  • GDT: This is one of the rarely used electronic components name abbreviations. It refers to a gas discharge tube.
  • IC: IC is one of the commonly used electronic components name abbreviations. It refers to integrated circuit
  • MCB: This refers to circuit breaker
  • OP: OP refers to operational amplifier
  • JFET: JFET means junction gate field-effect transistor
  • SCR: SCR means silicon controller rectifier
  • VLSI: This means very large scale integration
  • T: T stands for transformer
  • Ne: Ne stands for neon lamp
  • CR or D: This refers to diode
  • TFT: TFT is one of the common electronic components name abbreviations. It stands for thin film resistor
  • DSP: DSP refers to digital signal processor
  • LED: This refers to light emitting diode
  • SCR: SCR refers to silicon controlled rectifier
  • VFD: This is one of the most common electronic components name abbreviations. It refers to a vacuum fluorescent display.
  • Z: Z refers to zener diode
  • BGA: This refers to ball grid array. BGA helps in component packaging.
  • HDI: HDI stands for high-density interconnect
  • IoT: IoT stands for internet of things

Electronic components name abbreviations are a way of communicating to electronics engineers. Understanding what electronic components name abbreviations will help to ensure accurate communication among PCB manufacturers. Also, understanding electronic components name abbreviations are critical for electronics manufacturing.

Benefits of Using Electronics and PCB symbols

Panasonic R-8700 PCB

There are several circuit symbols in the electronic world. Some circuit symbols are commonly used across the industry. It is crucial to represent electronic components in circuit symbols. Without a circuit symbol, it is difficult to create the design of schematics. PCB boards layout can feature circuit symbols.  Below are some benefits of using circuit symbols.

  • Circuit symbols make circuit drawing easier
  • Also, circuit symbols solve the circuits
  • Circuit symbols make electrical component representation very easy.


It is crucial to know some common symbols in the electronic industry. Also, in PCB manufacturing, some common symbols help in creating a PCB layout. A printed circuit board features several electronic components and parts.

Most times, PCB manufacturers use abbreviations and terminologies in their PCB design and layout. Therefore, understanding these terminologies, abbreviations, and symbols is necessary. These days, circuit symbols and their functions have been standardized.