Tag Archives: abbreviation

Overusing abbreviations


Instant Messaging/Chat Acronyms by tuchodi, Attribution-ShareAlike Licence

It’s tempting to use abbreviations in your writing, but they are rarely ever a good idea. Helen Moody from the Professional Training Company explains why. Here is a quick summary of a few of reasons you might have for using them and what Helen has to say about why not to.

  • It’s shorter and so uses less space. Sure abbreviations are shorter on the page, but they take just as long to read, and can take even longer to read when the reader doesn’t know what they stand for.
  • It’s easier. Well it may be easier for the writer, but it isn’t easier for the reader. The reader has to translate every time they read them. By using them you are making the reader do all the work. This is plain unfriendly. You want your reader to enjoy reading your work, not be put off.
  • It’s easier for you to type. That may be true, but in this day of word processors that’s no excuse. You can easily replace abbreviations you have in a draft with the whole phrase with one quick run through of search and replace. Or set up an autocorrect entry to automatically enter the full phrase when you type the abbreviation. I showed you how to do this in a previous post here.

Helen Moody (2005) A modest proposal to eliminate “Acronyms”. Professional Training Company. http://www.plainlanguage.gov/news/Acronyms.pdf


Word’s autocorrect feature for things you are sick of typing

If you have long phrases or complicated words that you are using frequently in your document, you may want to have them appear automatically in Word when you type something more simple. So say, for example, you are writing about pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism. Instead of writing this out all the time you could type PDH and have word automatically expand this to pituitary dependent hyperadrenocorticism. This video from KeyStone Learning Systems explains how to use the autocorrect feature in Word to do this.


Pluralize Numbers and Abbreviations Without Apostrophes

sad apostrophe

sad apostrophe by Tanya Hart Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

If you are talking about more than one road traffic accident (RTA) or patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) should you write RTA’s and PDA’s? Many people do, but they should not. Its RTAs and PDAs.

Don’t make the same mistake yourself. This excellent short post explains when not to use an apostrophe.