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Longing for Abbreviations

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Sometimes Shorter is Better


By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com

I used to think that abbreviations were created to make things easier for writers. That is not their intended use. Writing should be both concise and fluid, since most people do not want to read text that is weighed heavily with too many complicated words and terms. Abbreviations can do a lot to make reading enjoyable and morecomprehensible. Understanding abbreviations, and how and when to use them, improves the way the information is conveyed. Read on to learn more about using abbreviations.

I used to think that abbreviations were created to make things easier for writers. That is not their intended use. Writing should be both concise and fluid, since most people do not want to read text that is weighed heavily with too many complicated words and terms. Abbreviations can do a lot to make reading enjoyable and more comprehensible. Understanding abbreviations, and how and when to use them, improves the way the information is conveyed. Read on to learn more about using abbreviations.


An abbreviation is a shortened version of a word or a group of words that helps speed up communication. There are two main types of abbreviations: shortenings and contractions.


A shortening is a word with some of the end cut off. Common examples are approx., Pres., ad, approx. and misc.


A contraction is a word with some of the middle removed. Some recognizable ones are Blvd., Dr., Ltd., and don’t.


The term acronym is often misused to mean all abbreviations. More specifically, this literary device is a type of abbreviation using the first initials of a group of words pronounced as its own word. Here is a list of well-known acronyms:

  • SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus)

  • OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)

  • RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging)

  • NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

An initialism is an abbreviation where the first initial of a group of words is pronounced. Here are some that we are all familiar with:

  • BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato)

  • VIP (Very Important Person)

  • FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)

  • LLC (Limited Liability Corporation)

  • IDK (I don’t know)

  • LMAO (okay, we know what that means)

ASAP is interesting in that it is an acronym if it is sounded out as a word, but is an initialism if each letter is said.


Some Abbreviations Every Author Should Know

  • ARC – Advanced Reader Copy (advanced copy for reviewers)

  • AU - Author

  • EBOOK - Electronic Book (digital book)

  • EREADER – Electronic Reader (device used for reading digitalized books)

  • INDIE AUTHOR - Independent Author (self-published author)

  • ISBN - International Standard Book Number (https://www.selfpublishingus.com/isbn-number-barcode)

  • KDP – Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon)

  • POD – Print on Demand (press process that can print one book at a time)

  • PUB DATE – Publishing date

  • TOC - Table of Contents

How to Use Abbreviations in Your Writing

If you need to explain an abbreviation, write out the word or phrase in its entirety and then follow it with the abbreviation in parentheses. Sally went to work for the International Technicolor Corporation (ITC) after graduating high school. The abbreviation can then be used alone (sans the parentheses) through the rest of the writing.


Abbreviations are considered informal, so know to whom you are writing. Technical writers love abbreviations, and such literary devices abound throughout their work. Keep in mind that the purpose of an abbreviation is not to ease the effort of the writer, but to improve the reader’s experience.


The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is a recommended book for writing well. https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Style-William-Strunk-Jr/dp/194564401X.


Consider a mechanical edit before publishing your book to assure abbreviations, grammar, punctuations, and spellings are correct: https://www.selfpublishingus.com/bookediting.


read more #TipsForWriters articles for self-publishing authors


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