Often you will see stocks referred to as a short series of letters – like MSFT, or S or GOOG. This is called a stock symbol and it’s really pretty simple.
Each stock has a short, unique abbreviation assigned to it. No other stock has that abbreviation. For example, the abbreviation for Microsoft is MSFT. No other stock can use the abbreviation MSFT.
So when you see MSFT, that ALWAYS means people are talking about shares of Microsoft stock. Or when you see S, that is ALWAYS Sprint. And when you see GOOG, that is Google.
Stock symbols are just a short abbreviation of the stock so people don’t have to key in the entire name. Imagine if you worked in the financial industry and had to write out the full company name every time during the day.
So that’s all a stock symbol is really – just a unique abbreviation for a stock. It’s that simple.