Abbreviations and Acronyms Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011

Abbreviations and Acronyms

Reviewing the lists in this lesson will help you to understand the proper use of the most common abbreviations and acronyms in your writing.

AN ABBREVIATION IS a shortened form of a word or phrase; it is pronounced exactly the same as the full word. For example, the abbreviation Dr. is pronounced doctor and the abbreviation Assn. is pronounced association.

Most abbreviations are followed by periods except in these cases:

  • two-letter postal code abbreviations for states
  • initials representing a company, agency, or other business
  • letters in acronyms
  • the words hour, minute, and second

An acronym is formed from the first letters of a name, such as SPAC for Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It can also be formed by combining the first letters of parts of a series of words, such as radar for radio detecting and ranging. Unlike abbreviations, acronyms are not followed by periods. And they are usually pronounced the way they look. For instance, you would say radar, not radio detecting and ranging

Learning the most common abbreviations and acronyms will help you understand how they are created, and what is and is not a correct abbreviation or acronym. In general, words are abbreviated by maintaining the key letters that make the new word recognizable as a shortened version of the full one. Review the following lists to improve your knowledge of abbreviations and acronyms.

Clock and Calendar

days of the week: Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., Thurs., Fri., Sat.

months of the year: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., May (no abbreviation), Jun., Jul., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

A.D. = anno Domini

B.C. = before Christ

B.C.E. = before the common era

A.M. = ante meridiem (before noon)

P.M. = post meridiem (after noon) (a.m. and p.m. are exception to the no-period-for-acronyms rule)

CST = Central Standard Time

DST = Daylight Saving Time

EST = Eastern Standard Time

MST = Mountain Standard Time

PST = Pacific Standard Time

c. = circa (approximate date)

hr. = hour

min. = minute

sec. = second

mo. = month

yr. = year

Directions and Addresses

Apt. = apartment

Ave. = avenue

Blvd. = boulevard

Cir. = circle

Ct. = court

Dr. = drive (note that this is the same abbreviation as for doctor)

Ln. = lane

Rd. = road

St. = street

Ste. = suite

Ter. = terrace

Tpk. = turnpike

E = east

N = north

S = south

W = west

U.S.A. = United States of America

Acad. = academy

Assn. = association

Corp. = corporation

Dept. = department

Div. = division

Ft. = fort

Univ. = university

Personal Titles

Capt. = captain

Col. = colonel

Cpl. = corporal

Gen. = general

Lt. = lieutenant

Sgt. = sergeant

Dr. = doctor

L.P.N. = licensed practical nurse

R.N. = registered nurse

Esq. = esquire

Gov. = governor

Mr. = mister

Mrs. = missus

Ms. = miz

Prof. = professor

Msgr. = monsignor

Sr. = sister

Jr. = junior

Sr. = senior

Academic Degrees

B.A. = bachelor of arts

B.B.A. = bachelor of business administration

B.S. = bachelor of science

D.A. = doctor of arts

Ed.D. = doctor of education

J.D. = doctor of law

M.A. = master of arts

M.B.A. = master of business administration

M.D. = doctor of medicine

M.S. = master of science

Ph.D. = doctor of philosophy

Miscellaneous Others

AKA = also known as

ASAP = as soon as possible (sometimes pronounced ay-say)

ATM = automated teller machine

ID = identification

IQ = intelligence quotient

MC = master of ceremonies (sometimes written out as emcee)

PIN = personal identification number

P.S. = postscript

RSVP = respondez s'il vous plaît (French for please reply)

SPF = sun protection factor

TBA = to be announced

TBD = to be determined

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Abbreviations and Acronyms Practice Exercises

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