Abbreviations are a great way to shorten your text and save time. However, it is important that you use them correctly. This article explains abbreviations and acronyms and gives tips on how to use them in English bachelor and master theses.
What is an abbreviation?
An abbreviation is a short form of a single word or a multi-word phrase, usually made by shortening certain letters. In the following sentence, anything underlined is an abbreviation:
Example: dr Jones, who's currently undertaking research on DNA, can't attend the WHO conference being held in the US in Oct. 2016
Not all of the abbreviations used in this example are formed in the same way. at Dr. and Oct. are general abbreviations, who's and can't are contractions, and DNA, WHO and US are acronyms. Contractions and acronyms are subcategories of abbreviations. But how do they differ?
Contractions are most often used to simplify a common combination of a pronoun and a verb. Deleted letters are replaced with an apostrophe.
|contractions||Common combinations of pronouns and verbs|
|In the||I am|
Acronyms are composed of the first letter(s) of several words in a phrase. When read, some are pronounced like ordinary words (for example , OPEC); others are read as single letters (e.g. UK).
|Benelux||Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg|
|FAQ||Frequently Asked Questions|
|MBA||Master of Business Administration|
|SWOT||Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats|
How and when should abbreviations be used?
Abbreviations are meant to make things easier for both you and your readers. The following tips will help you achieve this goal:
|countries||PRC, UAE, UK, USA, USSR|
|organizations||NASA, NATO, UNESCO, UNICEF|
|science and technology||AIDS, AM/FM, CD, DVD, HDMI, HIV, laser, PC, radar, TV, USB|
|Time||BC/AD, BCE/CE, time zones|
|various||AKA, eg, ie|
Correct: Let us consider the first theory, which is not commonly accepted.
When should abbreviations not be used?
Better: Business-to-business applications are gaining popularity. or Applications for B2B are gaining popularity.
The use of abbreviations in legal texts
Abbreviations (including acronyms) are commonly used in legal texts. The conventions must be strictly followed, but these vary between countries and universities. If you want to write about a legal topic, you should consider the style involved.
APA rules on abbreviations
If you're following APA style guidelines, consider these additional suggestions: