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The long and the short of abbreviations

Issue: 45(1) February 2019. Essays Pages 11 – 14

Tom Lang
Tom Lang Communications and Training International; ORCID Number: 0000-0002-7482-7727; [email protected]


Abbreviations—and their related shortenings, contractions, acronyms, initialisms, blendings, and mnemonic devices—are far more interesting than they first appear. They are also a mixed blessing, saving space and time but also increasing the chances of a text being not understood or, worse, being misunderstood. Here, I ignore some important aspects of abbreviations (capitalization, punctuation, preceding articles, plurals, and possessives) and instead describe their history, uses, and implications and summarize the most common rules and recommendations for their use in scientific publications


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