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Proper form of acronyms?

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    sheilamyersposted 2 years ago

    I was clueless as to the most appropriate category for his question, so I hope I chose correctly.

    I use acronyms within hubs as well as in my books, but I'm getting confused. It used to be (and maybe still is) the rule that when you typed an acronym, you were to place periods between the letters. It would appear as F.B.I. instead of FBI or D.N.A. instead of DNA. More and more I notice those two, along with many others, seem to be acceptable when typed without the periods. Whichever way they're typed, most people know to read them as individual letters instead of trying to sound them out as a word. The exception seems to be when the acronym forms a word, such as the A.C.T. tests, periods are used so the reader recognizes it as an acronym and not the word "act". Is it acceptable within the English language rules to use either form? If so, is it then a matter of personal preference as to which is used?

    1. calculus-geometry profile image86
      calculus-geometryposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Both conventions are acceptable. All that matters is to be consistent with your choice within an article.

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        sheilamyersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        I'll combine responses here to calculus, psyche, and drpenny. Thanks for your opinions. I was thinking it was probably a personal preference or style choice as psyche said. And I agree with you calculus, it should be consistent. Once FBI, always FBI. Now for a further question. Does that apply to all acronyms used within the hub if several different ones are being used or consistency for each individual acronym. Would you write it as "The F.B.I. can track criminals through their DNA" or would you make both the same? All with periods or all without?

        1. calculus-geometry profile image86
          calculus-geometryposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          I think that too is up to you. 

          Just thought I'd point out the FBI itself doesn't use full stops in its acronym, see website http://www.fbi.gov/ Maybe you could simplify your life and write all acronyms without full stops.  smile

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            sheilamyersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            Thanks calculus.Since it's acceptable to not use periods and that would make life easier and I love anything that simplifies life.

    2. dotpat profile image81
      dotpatposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Both are acceptable.  Since this is the case, I would do this on a case by case basis.  Some acronyms are going to be used most often with periods, others without.  Do whatever looks the most correct for the one you're writing and the majority of people will understand it.  If it's a rarely used acronym you should probably use periods so you don't confuse anyone by them thinking you're misspelling something.

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        sheilamyersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        dotpat: Good point. I use an acronym in my novels for a fiction crime unit and always use the periods, but when I type one someone already knows, I usually don't use the periods. I did it because it seemed acceptable for the most common ones and I wasn't sure about my created one. I'll keep your idea in mind.

  2. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 2 years ago

    It's just a style choice, pick one. smile

  3. drpennypincher profile image97
    drpennypincherposted 2 years ago

    I rarely see acronyms with periods anymore.  I prefer placing the capital letters together without periods.

  4. DzyMsLizzy profile image91
    DzyMsLizzyposted 2 years ago

    I would guess that the 'without periods' format is more often used with initials that can be pronounced as if they were an actual word; "SETI" for example, and still using all CAPS.
    Initials that simply abbreviate the name of an organization, or group, such as your example of  F.B.I., I believe can be used either way; I've certainly seen both.
    And AMA is generally recognized as American Medical Association,  though it can also stand for the Academy of Model Aeronautics, as I point out in my hub "Common Abbreviations" which discusses the confusions that can result from too many such abbreviations. ...wink  Best wishes.

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      sheilamyersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Dizzy: I'm glad you pointed out how one acronym can stand for more than one thing. Usually the first time I mention an organization in a hub, I type the full name and put the acronym in parentheses. From your example, "The American Medical Association (AMA) is a organization ..." I'd always use the full name in a title so people know what the article is going to be about.

  5. JayeWisdom profile image95
    JayeWisdomposted 2 years ago

    A common practice is to spell out the agency, organization or "whatever" the acronym represents the first time it's used in a non-academic article, followed by the acronym in parentheses, then use only the acronym in later references within that piece of writing.  Even when an acronym is such a familiar one that it's probable most readers are familiar with it, spelling  it in full initially guarantees that no reader is confused. I don't know that this is a "rule", per se, but it is a tendency that's become common usage and is suggested by the reference books I consult.

    As for periods within acronyms, I haven't used them in years (per The Chicago Manual of Style). I think all caps with no periods is a cleaner look. Consistency is key, and whichever method you use should be continued throughout the article.

    1. DzyMsLizzy profile image91
      DzyMsLizzyposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Good point, Jaye; the definition(s) should be spelled out in the first usage within any given article, formatted just as you stated.

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      sheilamyersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Jaye: Thank you for explaining the way to introduce the acronym. I could've saved myself some time with less typing in my previous response if I would've read yours first. With your explanation provided, others will understand why it's done that way.

      1. JayeWisdom profile image95
        JayeWisdomposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        You're welcome, Sheila. I am one of those odd people who doesn't simply use language reference books as needed, but reads them for enjoyment (much as I dipped into the dictionary and read definitions when I was a kid).   Many (many) years ago I also read THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White as though it were a novel instead of a book about grammar for writers.... LOL. (No doubt there's the seed of a hub in this explanation, isn't it? I'll have to give that some thought.)  Jaye

  6. Jash Jacob profile image60
    Jash Jacobposted 2 years ago

    I am glad that sheilamyers asked this question. I have been wondering about the same, since I grew up learning that acronyms should have periods and today's internet rarely uses them.

    Thanks to all who responded as well. Makes life a lot easier for someone who is not a native English speaker.

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      sheilamyersposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Jash: I'm glad my question also helped you. The only language I can speak, write, or otherwise understand is English and I still get confused.