September 8 2010

Acronym tips

by Barbie in Writing

Writers often find acronyms useful because they cut down on wordiness. For example, rather than spelling out a lengthy acronym like National Aeronautics and Space Administration, they can use the brief NASA. However, misused acronyms or poorly defined ones can cause more confusion than clarity.

Here are some tips for using acronyms:

Spell them out on first reference.

Assume that your readers do not know what the acronym stands for. After first reference, you can use the acronym throughout your document.

Avoid repetition.

Don’t call an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) an ATM machine. Don’t spell out a word of the acronym that you also abbreviate. Mistakes like these simply make you sound uneducated.

Double check your acronyms.

Make sure you are using the right acronym with the right spell out. Use the Acronym Finder to ensure you are properly using acronyms in your document.