Abbreviation – Definition & Lists of Abbreviations

06.08.20 Dissertation Time to read: 6min

How do you like this article?

0 Reviews


In general, the first time you use a term in an academic paper, you need to spell it out. Thereafter, you can use an abbreviation, provided it’s a common one and not one that you make up. It’s also important to remember that using shortened forms of words and phrases can sometimes be considered a less formal approach to writing so be sure it’s acceptable before going ahead.

GOOD TO KNOW: Read our article about the Footnote!

Abbreviation – FAQs

There are several that you’ll see commonly used. They include those used for people, such as “Mr.” instead of “Mister,” “Mrs.” instead of “Missus,” and “vet,” instead of “veterinarian.” They can also be used for places, such as “Dr.” instead of “Drive,” “Ave.” instead of “Avenue,” “Blvd.” instead of “Boulevard,” “Ln.” instead of “Lane” and “St.” instead of “Street.” You might also see “B.A.” for “Bachelor of Arts,” “Dr.” for “Doctor,” “CEO” for “chief executive officer” and “etc.” for “etcetera.”

These are terms that are often used interchangeably but aren’t quite the same. An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word, whereas an acronym is a set of letters that represent the word, but that often form a set of words or a title of something. An initialism is a series of initial letters, such “NBA” for the “National Basketball Association.”

One of the most common reasons is to shorten a piece of writing and make it easier to read. It’s an easy way to share important information without being boring and long-winded. Many writers choose to use abbreviations to better communicate technical information that can be hard to follow otherwise.

The general rule of thumb is to use them sparingly and only when they can better communicate information to your reader. You should also use only abbreviations your reader is likely to be familiar with and that you’ll use at least three times in your writing. They are also handy to use when spelling something out repeatedly will interfere with the integrity and readability of your paper.

In most cases, the first time you use an abbreviation, it should follow the entire term. For example, “American Psychological Association, or APA.” They can be used in tables and graphs but are probably not necessary in an abstract and shouldn’t be used in headings or the title of your paper.

If you’re working on an academic paper, it’s best to check with your professor in regards to whether using them is appropriate or not. You should also avoid using them if your readers may not be aware of what they mean and in places where it’s not possible to give an explanation of what your abbreviation means.

Definition: Abbreviation

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it can be defined as “a shortened form of a word or phrase.” Merriam Webster expands on this definition by defining the word as “a shortened form of a written word or phrase used in place of the whole word or phrase.”

Configure and print your dissertation!
Our top-tier print shop at BachelorPrint offers affordable printing services for students in South Africa. Experience high-quality printing and binding for your dissertation with prices from just R 150.00. There's more! Add our express delivery FREE of charge and get your order swiftly.

Abbreviation for Students

In terms of academic writing, students should use abbreviations only sparingly and only when it makes the paper easier to read. This is because an abbreviation is usually considered a less formal writing tool. In academic writing, abbreviations for professional organizations, diseases and conditions, titles and measurements. Types to avoid include geographic names, addresses and degrees.

Lists of Abbreviations

Abbreviation lists are handy because they give you an easy reference to use for your academic writing. Keep reading for some common lists that you can use in your writing.


Business & Finance

APR – annual percentage rate

ARM – adjustable rate mortgage

CD – certificate of deposit

FDIC – federal deposit insurance corporation

FOREX – foreign exchange

GNP – gross national product

IRA – individual retirement account

NYSE – New York stock exchange

SEC – Securities Exchange Commission

NDA – non-disclosure agreement

WC – working capital

YTD – year to date

CFO – chief financial officer

CEO – chief executive officer


Marketing & Sales

CRM – customer relationship management

CTA – call to action

CTR – click through rate

KPI – key performance indicator

ROI – return on investment

SLA – service level agreement

B2B – business to business

B2C – business to consumer

MAP – marketing automation platform

HTML – hypertext markup language

RSS – really simple syndication

PPC – pay per click

CTA – call to action

CX/UX – customer experience/user experience


State Abbreviations

AL – Alabama

AK – Alaska

AZ – Arizona

AR – Arkansas

CA – California

CO – Colorado

CT – Connecticut

DE – Delaware

FL – Florida

GA – Georgia

HI – Hawaii

ID – Idaho

IL – Illinois

IN – Indiana

IA – Iowa

KS – Kansas

KY – Kentucky

LA – Louisiana

ME – Maine

MD – Maryland

MA – Massachusetts

MI – Michigan

MN – Minnesota

MS – Mississippi

MO – Missouri

MT – Montana

NE – Nebraska

NV – Nevada

NH – New Hampshire

NJ – New Jersey

NM – New Mexico

NY – New York

ND – North Dakota

OH – Ohio

OK – Oklahoma

OR – Oregon

PA – Pennsylvania

RI – Rhode Island

SC – South Carolina

SD – South Dakota

TN – Tennessee

TX – Texas

UT – Utah

VT – Vermont

VA – Virginia

WA – Washington

WV – West Virginia

WI – Wisconsin

WY – Wyoming



ADM – admission

ALS – advanced life support

AMA – against medical advice

D/C – discontinue/discharge

DNR – do not resuscitate

DOA – dead on arrival

DOB – date of birth

EDD – estimated delivery date

ER – emergency room

HPI – history of present illness

IU – international units

NKDA – no known drug allergies

PCP – primary care physician

VS – vital signs

CAP – capsule

OTC – over the counter

PRN – as needed

RDI – recommended daily intake

TAB – tablet

BAC – blood alcohol content

CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation

EKG – electrocardiogram

H2O – water

IV – intravenous

PT – physical therapy

BM – bowel movement

BP – blood pressure

GI – gastrointestinal


Academic & Job Title

Mr. – mister

Mrs. – missus

Dr. – doctor

VP – vice president

SVP – senior vice president

EVP – executive vice president

PA – personal assistant

MA – Master of Arts

BA – Bachelor of Arts

BS – Bachelor of Science

MD – managing director

CMO – chief marketing officer

Ensure your final paper contains no plagiarism
Marks are likely to be deducted if you neglect to properly cite original sources. Avoid this by scanning your paper with our online plagiarism checker to detect any potential plagiarism. In only 10 minutes, you can submit your paper assuredly!

In a Nutshell

  • Abbreviations can be used for less formal academic writing
  • The word(s) should be spelled out in its entirety the first time it’s used, followed by the abbreviation thereafter in the paper
  • Use only an abbreviation that your reader will be familiar with
  • An abbreviation is necessary when it makes a paper easier to read and eliminates the use of too much jargon
  • Use abbreviations sparingly