Copyright

How to Write Abbreviations

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Abbreviations are commonly used in both formal and informal writing. In this lesson, we will focus on the appropriate use of abbreviations for formal, academic writing.

Definitions

Sometimes you don't want to go to all the trouble to write out a word. Maybe you're texting, or creating a table in Excel, or referring to a word over and over in an article. In these cases, you'll want to abbreviate.

Abbreviations are condensed versions of words. For example, instead of writing out the word 'Sunday,' there are times when it is appropriate to write the abbreviated form 'Sun.' Style guides vary somewhat, so if your teacher states a preference, be sure to consult your style guide when determining whether or not to abbreviate. Let's look at some generic rules for abbreviating in formal writing.

Indefinite Articles

Indefinite articles are the words 'a' and 'an.' Before introducing a word, if the word begins with a vowel, 'an' is used. If the word begins with a consonant, 'a' is used. This applies to abbreviations too.

For example:

  • Today feels like a Mon.
  • The storm came on an Oct. night.

However, there is a big difference. When an indefinite article precedes an abbreviation with the vowel sound, 'an' is used. When the indefinite article precedes a consonant sound, 'a' is used. Therefore, sometimes, even though a consonant starts the abbreviation out, it actually has a vowel sound. This is more often true in acronyms, but say you want to abbreviate the word 'hour' to 'hr.' 'Hour' starts with a consonant but has the vowel sound 'O'. Therefore you would use the indefinite article 'an', as in 'miles an hr.'

Punctuation

An abbreviation that is comprised of the first and last letters of the word, such as 'Mr.' (mister) is abbreviated with a period at the end. If the abbreviation comes at the end of a sentence, there is only one period that represents both the abbreviation and the end of the sentence. This can often be the case with the abbreviation 'Jr.' (junior).

For example:

  • Sandy named her son, Mr. Robert Lott, Jr.

Titles

'Miss' and 'Ms.' are not abbreviations, yet it is conventional to place a period at the end of 'Ms.' Some common titles that are abbreviated include:

Mister, Master Mr.
Missus, Mistress Mrs.
Doctor Dr.
General Gen.
Representative Rep.
Senator Sen.
Saint St.
Senior Sr.
Junior Jr.
Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.
Medical Doctor M.D.
Doctor of Dental Surgery D.D.S
Master's degree M.A., M.Ed., M.S
Bachelor's degree B.A., B.S.

The plural form of Mr. is Messrs.; Dr. is Drs.; and Mrs. is Mmes.

For example:

  • Messrs. Amendt, Sissons, and Pyle have been invited to speak at the seminar.
  • Mmes. Ward, Klinck, and Lott have declined the offer to present.
  • Drs. Kevala and Petray will be sending some literature.

Only one title should be used per name, the only exception being if the person's name ends with Jr., Sr., or III and that person has a preference. If the preference is unknown, the ending title should be omitted.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support