An abbreviation is the shortened form of a word or phrase. An acronym is a type of abbreviation formed by the initial letters of the words of a term, for example WHO (World Health Organization) or CFO (Chief Financial Officer).

If the acronym is only used once or twice in your written work, you should use the whole term instead of the acronym. If you use an acronym three or more times in your written work, you should introduce it.. You do this as follows: write the whole term and place the acronym right behind in parentheses. After the introduction you may use the acronym consistently throughout the text.

Why should I introduce abbreviations?

You should introduce acronyms in your written work to make sure the reader knows what they mean. Common acronyms, for which your reader knows the meaning (such as DNA), don’t have to be introduced in your text and can be used without explanation.

How can I introduce acronyms?

When you use an acronym for the first time, write out the full word and place the acronym in parentheses after the word. After having done this you can use the acronym throughout the rest of the text.

For example,

The Medisch Centrum Leeuwarden (MCL) Academy supports MCL-employees and other healthcare professionals.

If you use many acronyms in your written work, it's wise to use an alphabetical list of their definitions. In this way readers can easily look up unfamiliar acronyms.

The list of acronyms should then be placed at the beginning of the document, right behind the Table of Contents.

Automated Feedback can help you with introducing abbreviations correctly.

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