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Abbreviations and Acronyms

Use the Canadian Oxford Dictionary for appropriate spelling and punctuation for abbreviations and acronyms. Abbreviations and acronyms used in text are usually spelled out in the first instance unless they are better known as an abbreviation or acronym:

DNA, DVD, IQ, p.m.

The with Abbreviations/Acronyms

Generally, if the is part of the name, but not absorbed by the abbreviation, use the as if the abbreviation were spelled out:

The NFL comprises 31 teams.

NFL games rarely get postponed owing to inclement weather.

Do you listen to the CBC?

The archivists at LAC …

In other words, use the unless the abbreviation is used as an adjective or unless the abbreviation spelled out would not take a definite article, e.g., Library and Archives Canada/LAC (not “the LAC”).

Use of Caps and Periods

(a) Capitalize the first letter and use a period for abbreviations of titles:

Dr., Lt.-Gov., Mr., Mrs., St., Ste.

But

Ms

(b) Use periods for abbreviations and suspensions that include lower case letters, except those that have become bona fide words:

a.k.a., a.m., Dept., e.g., Ltd., No., Ont., Sask., vol.

But

laser, radar, scuba

(c) Do not use periods for acronyms or abbreviations and acronyms that appear in full caps:

AD, BC, CBC, CD-ROM, DC, GATT, HIV, HTML, ISO, MLA, MP, MPP, NAFTA, NATO, NWT, RCMP, UEL, UK, US, USA

Use the same principle when forming abbreviations specific to the archival profession in Canada (for organizations, checking their website may help):

BCA, BCAUL, CCA, LAC, RAD, UBC

(d) Use the correct abbreviation for corporate names.

Corporate websites are an easy way to check for information on the proper spelling of corporate names. Names of federal government departments and agencies, as well as their acronyms, can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/government/dept.html. Note that NA is the correct abbreviation for National Archives of Canada (not NAC), although this has now been superseded by LAC, for Library and Archives of Canada.

(e) Do not use periods for abbreviations of university degrees:

BA, MA, MAS, PhD (see CMOS 10.21)

Academic degrees:

  • He received his master’s degree/his MLS/a library science degree in 2004
    • (lower case for generic reference; note the ’s)
  • He completed a Master of Information Studies degree in 2004
    • (capitalize the full/official names of degrees in author biographies; note that the word degree is lower case and there is no ’s on Master).

Names with Initials

For names of people where initials are used, do not put spaces between initials:

Pierre E. Trudeau

J.K. Rowling

J.F.K.

W.L.M. King

Abbreviations/Terminology in Footnotes

paragraph = para. (singular and plural)

passim (no italics)

section (this would be abbreviated if it were referring to a section of a statute)

article = art. (singular and plural)

s.v. (“under the word”); (no italics); use before the word referred to

chapter = chap.

compare = cf.

volume = vol.

number = no. (singular); nos. (plural)

no date = n.d.

no place, no publisher, no page = n.p.

et al. (no italics)

and following = 14ff. (page number, no space, then ff.)

editor = ed. / editors = eds.

But:

  • note that if the meaning is “edited by,” then ed. is always used (never eds.), as explained in CMOS 14.104.
  • For example,
    • See Cindy Patton, “Refiguring Social Space,” in Social Postmodernism: Beyond Identity Politics, ed. Linda Nicholson and Steven Seidman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 216–49.

emphasis added by author: “(emphasis added)” at the end of the footnote, within parentheses

emphasis in original: include “(emphasis in original)” at the end of the footnote, within parentheses

Abbreviations in Text

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