Spell acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations in full before using

Acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations save space and time,
but not if readers don’t know what they mean before you start using them.

ASAIAAIFBU (Always spell acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations in full before using)
Some organisations, products or processes have very long names that become tedious to repeat. Acronyms (which make a new word out of initials, eg LASER), initialisms (eg BBC) and abbreviations, eg ref) can make long names or terms easier to read and write. 

However, the reader does need to know what they mean. Do we know what LASER stands for or what the BBC is?

Spell them out before using

Spell out acronyms and initialisms in full the first time you write them and follow them with the shortened form in brackets, eg British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). From then on you can just write BBC and readers will know what you mean.

But surely everyone knows what the BBC is? Which BBC? There are many organisations with these initials so it’s dangerous to assume, especially if our target audience is a very broad one.

What is more, if you include obscure initials without identifying what they mean, a journalist will have to look them up. It won’t take them much time, but if they have to look up simple things for every press release they receive, it slows down their work considerably.

If you make life easier for journalists by providing information in full, it is a great help and establishes you as a good, reliable source for the future. And building good relationships with journalists is important for the success of your PR campaigns.

2 Comments

  • Angelika Davey

    9-May-14 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Many, many years ago, before I moved to England, I had a BBC hand mixer. No, the British Broadcasting Corporation weren’t selling electrical goods, it was from the (at the time) well known Swiss company Brown, Boveri & Cie! I wonder if anybody remembers them…

  • njb2000

    29-May-14 at 10:46 am Reply

    It’s always handy to understand the TLA’s (three letter Acronyms)

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