An acronym is formed by combining the first letters of several words. Some acronyms are pronounced as a sequence of letters, for example, VDU (visual display unit), and some acronyms form new words, such as ‘Laser’, (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).
Here are some general guidelines for using them successfully:
- The first time in a text that you use an acronym, you should spell it out, so that your reader knows what the acronym stands for. Put the words in brackets, following the acronym’s first appearance in your text, as below:
The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is expected to give a press release.
- Modern usage suggests that full stops between the letters of an acronym are no longer required. Just remember to capitalize all the letters in acronyms.
- If your document is very long, it is helpful to your readers if you occasionally repeat the definition of any acronym you are using, to remind them of its meaning and save them time in looking back through your text for the original definition.
- If your document contains many acronyms, then prepare a glossary with their definitions listed. However, you should still remember to define the acronym within the text, the first time it is used.
- Below are a few commonly used acronyms with their definitions.
Value Added Tax
Public Limited Company
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Israel Defense Forces
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Financial Officer
National Basketball Association
Work In Process
Cable News Network
Total Quality Assurance
Internal Revenue Service
As Soon As Possible
Central Intelligence Agency
Universal Serial Bus