1. Education
Richard Nordquist

Ten Quick Tips for Using Abbreviations

By August 10, 2012

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Despite what you may have been told in school, abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms are commonly used in formal writing (though more often in business and the sciences than in the humanities). Exactly how they should be used depends on your audience, the country you're living in (British and American conventions differ), and the particular style guide you're following.

Here, in response to some of your questions, are ten brief guidelines for using and punctuating abbreviations. . . .

For the complete article, see Ten Tips for Using Abbreviations in Formal Writing.


August 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm
(1) David Ferrier says:

When I abbreviate months of the year, I usually used three-letter abbreviations for all months having names longer than three letters. So, May, Jun., Jul.

August 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm
(2) David Ferrier says:

Regarding the abbreviation “i.e.” for Latin id est, “that is”: people when speaking should not say “I.e.” but should instead say “That is.” When writing dialogue, avoid i.e.

August 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm
(3) David Ferrier says:

In the same vein as RAS syndrom is the common outgoing message, “Your call will be answered in the order it was received.” Since “it”, a single call, cannot be said to be in any order, this message is illogical and illiterate. “Calls are answered in the order received” or “Your call will be answered by the next available operator” are OK.

August 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm
(4) Peter Eedy says:

Hi Richard

Thanks for yet another interesting article.

I see that in the UK acronyms are typically spelt in publications as a regular word, for example: Nato (rather than NATO), Fifa and Uefa.

I’m not convinced this is a good approach (I haven’t noticed this trend here in Australia yet)



August 14, 2012 at 2:28 am
(5) Joe says:

Richard I enjoy the website. I am confused about an item above. Item 8 indicates to use just one period at the end of a sentence with an abbreviation. However, in item number 5, you have two periods at the end of the second sentence which ends with p.m. Learning grammar is new for me, so I am just trying to learn all this stuff. Thanks!

August 14, 2012 at 2:52 am
(6) grammar says:

That was my copy-and-paste blunder of the week, Joe. Thank you for catching it. I’ve corrected the error.


August 16, 2012 at 4:07 am
(7) Hus Shahid says:

Really a nice article. Very helpful indeed. Thanks for it!

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