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Author: Ryan Howard

This lesson discusses abbreviations and the rules for using abbreviations.

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Intro to Abbreviations

What is an abbreviation?

An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase.


Some examples of abbreviations include:

Doctor - Dr.

Mister - Mr.

Missus - Mrs.

Etc. - Etcetera

Cont. - Continued


Why are abbreviations used?

Abbreviations are used to shorten a word or phrase to make it easier on the writer.  Let us take the following exapmle:

Professor Hellen and Mister Wilson were discussing Mister Henson's overall performance in tidiness, punctuality, etcetera. 

This could easily be shortened by making the following abbreviations:

Professor = Prof.

Mister = Mr.

Etcetera = Etc.

Let us take a look at the revised sentence:

Prof. Hellen and Mr. Wilson were discussing Mr. Henson's overall performance in tidiness, punctuality, etc.

It makes the writing a lot easier. 



Things learned in this packet:


Abbreviations are shortened forms of words or phrases that are used to make the writing easier. 


Abbreviations are used for the following:

  • Titles Before Names (Mr., Mrs., Rev.)
  • Titles After Names (Jr., Sr.)
  • Names of Institutions (UCLA, CIA)
  • Names of Countries (U.K., U.A.E.)
  • Corporations (IBM)
  • Mathematical Units (ft, cm, t)


Abbreviations are not used:

  • Words such as "thru" or "nite"
  • Days or months in regular text (Sun, Aug)
  • States names in formal writing - only when used in addresses or informal writing (e.g. "We're going to MN tomorrow" is not acceptable.  Use the full name of Minnesota.
  • Names of Courses in formal writing (e.g. Span, Hist)


Periods are used for:

  • Lower - case abbreviations such as e.g. or i.e.
  • Prefix and Suffixes in names of people - Military prefixes do not have periods in formal writing.

They are NOT used in:


  • Professional designations such as CPA
  • Units of measurement (except for inches)

Source: See above sections for sources.