An acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of each word of a compound term.
The contemporary rule is to write out the full name when first mentioned (with the acronym in brackets). Use only the acronym after this.
Example: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will decide on the issue. NATO leadership is made up of…
Tip: Try not to use acronyms in your introductory paragraph. This side-tracks readers from your story.
Seven Rules for Acronyms
- An acronym is usually written in uppercase. Examples: ASAP, LOL
- If the acronym has four letters or more and is pronounceable, we may use upper- and lowercase. Examples: Aids, Nasa, Interpol
- Contemporary acronyms do not need full stops. Examples: ASAP, NATO
- Some acronyms are so familiar we can assume readers recognise them. You do not need to write them out. Some examples: Aids, Unicef
- Many acronyms have become standard words. Examples: radar (radio detection and ranging), scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus),laser (light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation)
- Use ‘an’ in place of ‘a’ when the article precedes a vowel sound. It’s ‘an honour’ (the h is silent), but ‘a Unicef’ issue (it’s pronounced ‘yoo’). It’s the sound that matters.
- The word ‘the’ is unnecessary before acronyms pronounced as words. Examples: Interpol, Nato
by Amanda Patterson
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