Use abbreviations sparingly

The letters WA mean Western Australia to Australians, but Washington to Americans, and so on. Many people don’t know that Hab. means Habakkuk, a book of the Bible. People from other countries may not know what NSW means.

Abbreviation of an organisation or word in text

Define abbreviations the first time they are used.

  • If abbreviations are going to be used, write the name of the organisation, or the word, in full the first time it is referenced, followed by the abbreviation in brackets. Subsequent references in the same article can use the abbreviation.

e.g. Copyright Agency Limited (CAL)

Note: names of companies/organisations do not need to be italicised, but should be capitalised.

Use of full stops in abbreviations

  • Omit periods and spaces in common abbreviations except where this may cause confusion (e.g. if writing US in a line of capitals, the periods may be necessary to distinguish it from the word ‘us’, although in this example using USA is preferable).
  • Omit periods in initials of organisations, political divisions and countries (CSIRO, UK, NSW).
  • Omit periods in initials of Bible versions: KJV, RSV, NIV, NASB, etc.
  • Use periods with most contractions, particularly where the word is cut part-way through, such as Rev. as in Reverend, Feb. as in February, Ed. as in Editor, etc.
  • Do not use periods when the last letter of the abbreviation is the same as the last letter of the full word, such as Dr as in Doctor, Mr as in Mister, St as in Street, Rd as in Road, Ave as in Avenue, etc.
  • When pluralising a word, if the abbreviation (in the singular) had a period then the plural does, too; if the singular abbreviation did not have a period then the plural doesn’t either. E.g. Dr → Drs, Ed. → Eds.
  • Use full stops after initials of given names (Mr P.L. Jones). Where there are two or more initials, a full stop is inserted after each initial, but there is no space between the initials.
  • Use full stops in degrees (Ph.D., M.Sc., Dip.Ed.) except where pluralised (see Apostrophes section). Note: use an M.Sc., not a M.Sc. etc.—as most people will read the abbreviation, rather than converting it back, in their minds, into the full word.
  • i.e./e.g./viz. should not be followed by a comma unless the context demands it—for example, where a statement follows in brackets.

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