Abbreviations in Writing
Abbreviations in WritingAn abbreviation is a shortened version of a written word or phrase used to replace the original. For example:
- Acronym. An abbreviation spoken like a word:
- DOS (Disk Operating System)
- NAAFI (Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes)
- BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free)
- Contraction. A contracted version of a word (possibly using an apostrophe to replace any missing letters):
- You're (In full: You are)
- Can't (In full: Cannot)
- Mr. (In full: Mister)
- Initial Abbreviation (or Initialism). An abbreviation (usually written with capital letters) with each letter usually representing one word:
- AQI (Air Quality Index)
- MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System)
- ITV (Independent Television)
- Syllabic abbreviation. An abbreviation formed from the initial syllables of multiple words:
- Interpol (International Police)
- Opint (Operational Intelligence)
- INMARSAT (International Maritime Satellite)
Full Stops (Periods) in AbbreviationsAbbreviations can be written with or without full stops (periods). For example:
For neatness, you should try to be consistent throughout your document.
BUPA is consistently written by BUPA without full stops (periods). Therefore, you should write BUPA and not B.U.P.A. (This trumps your striving to be consistent.)
Read more about full stops (periods) in abbreviations.
Full Stops (Periods) in ContractionsContractions like Dr. and Prof. are often followed by full stops (periods). This is a ruling in America. Outside America, the guideline is to use a full stop (period) only if the last letter of the contraction is different from the last letter of the whole word. For example:
- Dr. () ()
- Dr () ()
- Prof. () ()
- Prof () ()
It's Not an Acronym. It's an Abbreviation!BBC and CNN are not acronyms. They are not spoken like words. Lots of people use the word acronym when they mean abbreviation.
The Golden RuleWhen writing abbreviations, choose a convention you like and be consistent throughout your document.
Read more about being consistent with abbreviations.