Posted by: Jack Henry | November 23, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Acronyms, Initialisms, and Abbreviations

A while ago, I sent an Editor’s Corner article about avoiding texting and Internet slang when you write business emails and documentation because some people may not be familiar with the slang. I received an overwhelming response from subscribers stating how frustrating it is when a writer uses acronyms in documentation and assumes that everyone knows what they stand for.

Today we are going discuss acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations. We use the word abbreviation to include all shortened form of words, so acronyms and initialisms are often considered abbreviations, but there is also a specific meaning for the term abbreviation, which I show below. Here are some examples of each:

· acronym: a word formed from the first letters of each one of the words in a phrase (pronounced as a word)


HELOC – Home equity line of credit

Benexlux – Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg

ARM – Adjustable rate mortgage

PIN – Personal identification number

scuba – self-contained underwater breathing apparatus

· initialism: an abbreviation formed from initial letters (pronounced by each letter)


ACH – Automated Clearing House

ATM – Automated teller machine

CVV – Card Validation Value

· abbreviation: a shortened form of a word or name that is used in place of the full word or name

Examples of abbreviations:

vs. – versus

Asst. Mgr. – Assistant Manager

natl. – national

When you use an acronym, initialism, or abbreviation, spell out the words in the first instance, and then write the acronym, initialism, or abbreviation in parentheses after the words. You can make exceptions for common acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations.


The FRB changed the ABA URL directory listing on February 22, 2015.


The Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) changed the American Banking Association (ABA) URL directory listing on February 22, 2015.

Jackie Solano | Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.542.6711 | Extension: 766711

Symitar Documentation Services

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