Misc.: Acronyms

January 11, 2007: Issue 172

When you use an acronym in text, use the full name on first reference.
correct: First prize is a trip to the American Copy Editors Society conference. ACES is known for its raucous, celebrity-studded gatherings.

When the first and second references are far apart, a shortened form of the name might work better than an acronym.
acceptable: The Iguana Fanciers Association has tips for housing your pet reptile in safety and style. … “Just remember, they’re cold-blooded,” says Theresa Bolles, president of the IFA.
preferred: The Iguana Fanciers Association has tips for housing your pet reptile in safety and style. … “Just      remember, they’re cold-blooded,” says Theresa Bolles, president of the iguana association.

In general, you don’t need to put the acronym in parentheses on first reference. If the acronym isn’t clear on its own, think twice about using it.
acceptable: The Special Interest Media (SIM) group will launch a new magazine for rocking-horse                        collectors this fall.
preferred: The Special Interest Media group will launch a new magazine for rocking-horse collectors this          fall.

Exceptions: We always use acronyms in parentheses after these terms:
• National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)
• certified kitchen designer (CKD)
• certified bath designer (CBD)

Fun Web site: Find a collection of ridiculous acronyms.

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