Acronyms and initialisms are strings of capital letters without full stops used to shorten long organisation names or groups of words such as ABS for Australian Bureau of Statistics, NSW for New South Wales, or CPI for consumer price index. Acronyms are easy for the writer but hard for the reader, so try to avoid using them.
Acronyms save the writer from typing out long names and phrases in full and make the text look shorter. But a paragraph, page or document full of acronyms is hard for the reader, who may be less familiar with all the terms used, and over-use of acronyms can slow a reader down.
- Use acronyms only for very well known organisation names or the author or publisher of the document
- Write out as many acronyms as possible in full, especially if they are only used a few times
- Include a glossary or list of acronyms at the front of the document if use is unavoidable
- Use acronyms in tables where space is more limited, but include a note to explain the term.
These tips also apply to abbreviations and contractions. Make it easy for the reader.