Abbreviations and Acronyms
Acronyms are a usefully concise way to refer to established entities and concepts. At the same time, using many acronyms or (especially) formulating entirely novel acronyms can make a document more difficult for nonspecialist readers. As always, it's important to consider what audience you're writing for and what effect certain ways of presenting information will have on that audience.
The first time you use an acronym, spell it out fully, followed immediately by the abbreviated version in parentheses: e.g., Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). Note that spelled-out acronyms follow the same capitalization rules as any other text: the words are generally not capitalized unless they are proper nouns.
Subsequent spellings-out are unnecessary; however, sometimes, thesis writers will re-spell key acronyms at the beginning of a new thesis chapter.
Here are the primary abbreviation guidelines:
- Use periods after a shortened version of a person's name: e.g., A. W. Birmingham
- Writing about the United States (the TPO's historical preference; not a requirement):
- Spell out "United States" when it is a noun
- Abbreviate "United States" as "U.S." (with periods) when it is an adjective (e.g., U.S. foreign policy)
- Otherwise, generally speaking, abbreviations and acronyms that contain two or more capital letters take no periods, while those that end in a lowercase letter include periods: PhD but Dr.
- Use periods with Latin abbreviations: e.g., i.e., et al., etc.