Learn how to punctuate acronyms and capitalize familiar initialisms. As a rule, you will use them for abbreviation and clarity in writing.
ACRONYM RULES OF USE: You should use acronyms and other shortened phrases with caution and correctness.
When you write to communicate, the misuse of an acronym or an initialism is more likely to confuse than clarify.
The correct usage of acronyms offers writers an opportunity to make their writing clearer for the reader.
But, take note that misusing them may turn memos and letters into a confusing mess. You may accomplish nothing more than a page of argle-bargle.
Thus, the section on writing tips will help all authors and communicators use acronym rules and slang initialisms correctly in business and in letter writing.
You can bookmark this rules guide so you know when you can - and when you definitely should not - use word abbreviation rules for acronyms.
A contemporary acronym is an abbreviated word formed by using the initial component letters of another name, word, or phrase. The acronym rule means they then get pronounced as if they are a word themselves.
We use shortened word components as individual letters such as in UNICEF. In fact, it actually stands for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. You can also use pieces of words or names such as in Benelux. This is a combination of Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
In English, the longest acronym in present day use is a navy term 'Adcomsubordcomphibspac'. The exorbitant and lengthy 'abbreviated' acronym (which may need further abbreviation) stands for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, and Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command.
Can you imagine having to write that phrase multiple times in a 100-page document for your commanding officer?
A three-letter acronym (TLA) or a three-letter abbreviation is a term (acronym, alphabetism, or initialism) which consists of three letters.
As a rule, they are the initial letters of the abbreviated words or phrase. You should write them in capital letters (upper case).
Most three-letter abbreviations are actually initialisms. That means all the letters get pronounced as the names of letters.
There are also some three letter acronyms pronounced as a word such as in the phrase 'CAT' scan - meaning computed axial tomography. 'TLA' is in fact a TLA and an example of a self-referencing definition. But, etc. and Mrs. are not three-letter acronyms.
The longest three letter acronym 'TLA' possible to pronounce in English is 'WWW'. It requires the use of nine (9) syllables when spoken 'correctly'.
The usefulness of three letter acronyms comes from how much quicker it is to speak the abbreviation than the phrase which they represent.
Nonetheless, pronouncing 'WWW' in English requires the speaker to use three times as many syllables than the phrase itself - World Wide Web.
Because of this strange anomaly, 'www' is often abbreviated in speech to 'dubdubdub'.
Initialisms (in a nutshell) are shorter forms of words or phrases. The general rules for using initialisms can come in especially handy when you need to repeat the same word or phrase many times throughout the same piece of writing.
You should pronounce an initialism as a series of letters. An example would be 'NATO' which stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Writing initialisms in communication can save you a lot of time and keep your business documents from sounding repetitive and lengthy.
TTFN is an initialism which represents the colloquial valediction, 'ta ta for now'. We use the friendly expression as an informal 'goodbye' or 'goodbye for now'. But, it actually came to prominence during the Second World War in the United Kingdom.
Acronym Rules: Using Acronyms and Abbreviation in Written English