What is the difference between Acronyms and Initialisms?

[ english ] [ grammar ]
asked on 20 Jan 2011
Joseph Sheppard Joseph Sheppard
102 Q, 0 A, 0 C
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Acronyms are formed by combining the first letter or letters of several words; they are pronounced as words and written without periods. Initialisms are formed by combining the initial letter of each word in a multiword term; they are pronounced as separate letters.

  • Except for commonly used abbreviations (U.S., a.m.), spell out a term to be abbreviated the first time it is used, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Thereafter, the abbreviation may be used alone.

  • In long documents, repeat the full term in parentheses after the abbreviation at regular intervals to remind readers of the abbreviation's meaning, as in "Remember to submit the CAR (Capital Appropriations Request) by.

  • Do not add an additional period at the end of a sentence that ends with an abbreviation.

  • Write acronyms in capital letters without periods. The only exceptions are acronyms that have become accepted as common nouns, which are written in lowercase letters, such as scuba.

  • Generally, use periods for lowercase initialisms (a.k.a., e.d.p., p.m.) but not for uppercase ones (GDP, IRA, UFO). Exceptions include geographic names (U.S., U.K., E.U.) and formal expressions of academic degrees (B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D.).

  • Form the plural of an acronym or initialism by adding a lowercase s. Do not use an apostrophe (CARs, DVDs).

Do not follow an abbreviation with a word that repeats the final term in the abbreviation.

answered on 21 Jan 2011
Grammar Aunt Grammar Aunt
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