Have you ever started to read a modding tool guide, or a Reddit post, or a mod description, and saw a word or an acronym that was essentially gibberish to you? Then you’ve come to the right place! A lot of these will be obvious to many, but hopefully someone will find this useful. (Please let me know if you think something should be added or, Talos forbid, if I am mistaken on any of these!)

Credits: a variety of Reddit and Nexus Forum posts, most especially this forum post and the specific articles referenced below

General Reference

  • AIO – All-in-One (often used to describe when a mod author has merged multiple iterations/versions of their mod(s) into one, and often can include compatibility patches as well)
  • BSA – Bethesda Softworks Archive (you will see this compressed file type in many mods; it can include sounds, textures, models, etc. For more information, specifically about loose vs packed, read this post by the wonderful u/Thallassa)
  • CK – Creation Kit (this tool is used to both edit and create mods)
  • CTD – Crash to Desktop
  • DB and DG – Dragonborn and Dawnguard DLC
  • DoF – Depth of Field
  • DLC – Downloadable Content
  • DLL – Dynamic Link Library
  • DynDOLOD – Dynamic Distant Objects Level of Detail
  • ENB – is a program that uses post processing effects to create enhanced visuals in the game. (Read this article for more information)
  • ESL – Elder Scrolls Light Master
  • ESM – Elder Scrolls Master
  • ESP – Elder Scrolls Plugin
  • ESPFE – Elder Scrolls Plugin Flagged as a Light Master
  • FNIS – Fores New Idles in Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • FOMOD – Fallout Mod Installer (also used by Skyrim mods); essentially this is an installer built into the file archive that can add choice options, additional related plugins, images, etc to assist in the installation process.
  • FPS – Frames Per Second
  • FXAA – Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing
  • HUD – Heads Up Display is how information about your character is conveyed visually without going to a different screen. This can include the compass, health/status/magicka bars, notifications/thoughts, custom widgets, etc.
  • ILS – Infinite Loading Screen
  • INI – a file extension for configuration information (text file readable by notepad/wordpad)
  • ITM – Identical to Master (records added by a mod that are an exact copy of records from the Vanilla game; sometimes these are unintentional and need to be cleaned, and sometimes they are intentional and should NOT be cleaned)
  • LO and LOOT – Load Order and Load Order Optimization Tool
  • LOD – Level of Detail
  • MCM – Mod Configuration Menu (when using SkyUI (LE|SE), if a mod comes with an MCM, it means that you can customize certain aspects in game.)
  • MO and MO2 – Mod Organizer and Mod Organizer 2
  • Navmesh – Navigation Mesh (for our purposes, basically this tells the NPCs where they can move around; for more information, read this article)
  • NIF – NetImmerse File (file for storing 3D Models)
  • NMM – Nexus Mod Manager (No longer supported – now Vortex)
  • NPC – Non-Playable Character
  • Plugin – A plugin is a file used to either change data in the game or add data to the game. For more information, read this article on the Nexus.
  • SKSE – Skyrim Script Extender (trust me; this should be the first mod you download if you are just getting started. SOOO many other mods rely on this)
  • SSAO – Screen Space Ambient Occlusion
  • SSE and LE – Skyrim Special Edition and Legendary Edition
  • TAA – Temporal Anti-Aliasing
  • UDR – Undeleted and Disabled References (Deleted References=Bad; Undeleted and Disabled References=Good; However: When you run LOOT it will show a total number of UDRs which actually means how many still need to be fixed)
  • UPF – Unified Patching Framework (zEdit uses this for patching – read this post for more information)
  • USSEP and USLEEP – Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch and Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch
  • VFS – Virtual File System (this is what Mod Organizer 2 uses. Instead of manually installing mods to the Skyrim game data folder, it creates a virtual file system that it sort of plugs into (get it?) the game when you start it up from within MO2.)
  • Vortex – Mod Manager from Nexus (not to be confused with Nexus Mod Manager)

Body Types

CBBE – Caliente’s Beautiful Body Enhancement
SAM – Shape Atlas for Men
TBD – Touched by Dibella
UNP – Unpretend(ed)
UNPB – UNP Blessed
Also, HDT/SMP/CBPC/etc are all physics for bodies/hair/weapons
Check out the Body Type Mod Category page for more information (not much more, but I will hopefully add more at some point)

Visual Misc

I don’t know much about all of this, as I am still learning myself, but this video playlist helped me a lot in trying to determine exactly what various settings in ENBs and other INI files where actually doing: Skyrim ENB Effect Demonstrations – tapioks. It shows comparison clips of various effects turned on and off. Also, the music is super relaxing.

Ambient Occlusion – an effect that calculates how exposed each point in a scene is to ambient light, i.e. not from a direct source; essentially adds shadows where they might not otherwise have been (helpful video by Greg Salazar)

Anistropic Filtering – an effect that improves how small details appear; this eliminates Anti-Aliasing effects, but reduces blur and preserves detail even at extreme angles

Anti-Aliasing – an effect that smoothes jagged edges, essentially by strategic blurring (helpful video by Greg Salazar)

Depth of Field – an effect that simulates the ability to focus on one thing at a time

Mods That Are Often Abbreviated

  • 3DNPC – Interesting NPCs (LE|SE)
  • ACE – Armor and Clothing Extension (SE)
  • AFT – Amazing Follower Tweaks (LE|SE)
  • AGO – Archery Gameplay Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • AllGUD – All Geared Up Derivative (LE|SE)
  • AOS – Audio Overhaul for Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • ASIS – Automatic Spells Increased Spawns (LE|SE)
  • ASLAL/LAL – Live Another Life (LE|SE)
  • AVA – (SkyRem) Attribute Value Application (SE)
  • BDS – Better Dynamic Snow (LE|SE)
  • BOYD – Bring Out Your Dead (LE|SE)
  • BPT – Blue Palace Terrace (LE|SE)
  • BS – Beyond Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • CACO – Complete Alchemy and Cooking Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • CCOR – Complete Crafting Overhaul RemadeRemastered (LE|SE)
  • CFTO – Carriage and Ferry Travel Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • CGO – Combat Gameplay Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • CORI – (SkyRem) Class Overhaul Re-Imagined (SE)
  • COT – Climates of Tamriel (LE|SE)
  • COTN – Cities of the North (SE)
  • CRF – Cutting Room Floor (LE|SE)
  • DAR – Dynamic Animation Replacer (LE|SE)
  • DA – Dev Aveza (LE|SE)
  • DBM – (Legacy of the Dragonborn) Dragonborn Museum
  • DCO – Dragon Combat Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • DOS – Dawn of Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • DSR – Dual Sheath Redux (LE)
  • EBQO – Even Better Quest Objectives (LE|SE)
  • ELE – Enhanced Lighting for ENB (LE|SE)
  • ELFX – Enhanced Lights and FX (LE|SE)
  • ELSA – (SkyRem) Early Life Skill Adjustment (SE)
  • ETaC – Expanded Towns and Cities (LE|SE)
  • EVE – (SkyRem) – Evolving Value Economy (SE)
  • EVT – Enhanced Vanilla Trees (LE|SE)
  • FISS(ES) – File Access Interface for Skyrim (Special Edition) Scripts (LE|SE)
  • GABI – (SkyRem) Genders are Boringly Indistinct (SE)
  • GDO – Guard Dialogue Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • GDOS – Glorious Doors of Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • GIST – Genuinely Intelligent Soul Trap (LE|SE)
  • GRACE – (SkyRem) Gabi, Rae, Ava, Cori, Elsa (SE)
  • HPP – High Poly Project (LE|SE)
  • HR – Helgen Reborn (LE|SE)
  • ICOW – Immersive College of Winterhold (LE|SE)
  • IHUD – Immersive Heads Up Display (LE|SE)
  • INEZ – (SkyRem) Improved NPC Encounter Zones (SE)
  • ISC – Immersive Sounds Compendium (LE|SE)
  • JOP – Joy of Perspective (LE|SE)
  • KIC – Keep it Clean (SE)
  • KWF – Khajiit Will Follow (LE|SE)
  • LCO – Lawbringer (LE|SE)
  • LORA – (SkyRem) Loot Overhaul Rarity and Abundance (SE)
  • LOS – Lanterns of Skyrim (LE|SE) and LOS II (SE)
  • LOTD – Legacy of the Dragonborn (LE|SE)
  • MAS – Moon and Star (LE|SE)
  • MIA – (SkyRem) More Immersive Activation (SE)
  • MLOS – Medieval Lanterns of Skyrim (SE)
  • MLU – MorrowLoot Ultimate (LE|SE)
  • MM – Majestic Mountains (LE|SE)
  • NARC – No Animals Report Crimes (LE|SE)
  • NFF – Nether’s Follower Framework (LE|SE)
  • NSUTR – No Snow Under the Roof (LE|SE)
  • OBIS – Organized Bandits in Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • OCS – Open Cities Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • OCW – Obscure’s College of Winterhold (SE)
  • PCE – Palaces and Castles Enhanced (LE|SE)
  • PYP – Protect Your People (LE|SE)
  • QUARK – Qwinn’s Ultimate Amulet Restoration Kit (SE)
  • QUASIPC – Qwinn’s Unified Automated Self Installing Patch Compendium (SE)
  • QUSTR – Qwinn’s Universal Skin Texture Replacer (SE)
  • RAE – (SkyRem) Race Abilities Enhanced (SE)
  • RDO – Relationship Dialogue Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • RLO – Realistic Lighting Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • RND – Realistic Needs and Diseases (LE|SE)
  • ROM – Reliquary of Myth (LE|SE)
  • RS – Relighting Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • RSCO – RS Children Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • RWT – Realistic Water Two (LE|SE)
  • SFO – Skyrim Flora Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • SIC – Skyrim Immersive Creatures (LE|SE)
  • SIGE – Skyrim In-Game Editor (LE|SE)
  • SMIM – Static Mesh Improvement Mod (LE|SE)
  • SPERG – Skyrim Perk Enhancements and Rebalanced Gameplay (LE|SE)
  • SRCEO – Skyrim Revamped Complete Enemy Overhaul (SE)
  • SRO – Skyrim Realistic Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • SSoB – Stackable Stones of Barenziah (LE|SE)
  • SUT – Skyrims Unique Treasures (LE|SE)
  • TCBM – Taking Care of Business (LE|SE) and Redux (LE|SE)
  • TCIY – The Choice is Yours (LE|SE)
  • TEOB – The Eyes of Beauty (LE|SE)
  • TOK – Tools of Kagrenac (LE|SE)
  • TPOS and TPOS2 – The People of Skyrim (SE) and (SE)
  • UHDAP – Unofficial High Definition Audio Project (SE)
  • WACCF – Weapons Armor Clothing & Clutter Fixes (LE|SE)
  • WFOS – Wintersun Faiths of Skyrim (LE|SE)
  • WICO – Windsong Immersive Character Overhaul (LE|SE)
  • XPMS/XPMSE/XPMSSE – XP32’s Skeleton Extender (LE|LE|SE)
  • YASH – Yet Another Skyrim Hardcore Mod (LE|SE)
  • YAWTO – Yet Another Whiterun Tree Overhaul (SE)
  • YOT – Your Own Thoughts (LE|SE)
  • ZIA – Zim’s Immersive Artifacts (LE|SE)

Please remember to endorse any mods you download and like, and if you appreciate all the hard work that goes into creating a mod, consider giving kudos to the author on Nexus as well (the Give Kudos button can be found on the user’s page).