Here are a few pointers about using acronyms:
- Define the acronym when it is first used, spelling it out and then putting the abbreviation in parenthesis—for example, “people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).” Thereafter just use the acronym.
- Don’t capitalize the first letter of each word that comprises an acronym unless it is a proper noun—for example, “return on investment (ROI),” not “Return On Investment (ROI).”
- Don’t define an acronym or use all capital letters if it is a commonly used word (such as laser or radar).
- Don’t define an acronym if it is the standard use of a company’s name (such as IBM).
- Treat the executive summary, main text, and each appendix as separate documents, defining acronyms on their first appearance in each section.
- Don’t use an acronym unless it appears more than once in a document. There’s no need to inundate your readers with acronyms they won’t see again.
For information on defining acronyms, check out my post “Having problems figuring out what the heck that acronym means?”.