Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations

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This guideline covers the use of abbreviations – including acronyms and initialisms, contractions, and other shortenings – as used in the English Wikipedia.

Maintaining a consistent abbreviation style will allow Wikipedia to be read, written, edited, and navigated more easily by readers and editors alike. The style should always be consistent within a page. If a guideline conflicts with the correct usage of a proper name, ignore it. The abbreviation style used in quotations from written sources should always be written exactly as in the original source, unless it is a Wikipedia-made translation.

Always consider whether it is better to simply write a word or phrase out in full, thus avoiding potential confusion for those not familiar with its abbreviation. Remember that Wikipedia does not have the same space constraints as paper.

Use sourceable abbreviations[edit]

Avoid making up new abbreviations, especially acronyms. For example, "International Feline Federation" is good as a translation of Fédération Internationale Féline, but neither the anglicisation nor the reduction IFF is used by the organisation; use the original name and its official abbreviation, FIFe.

If it is necessary to abbreviate in small spaces (infoboxes, navboxes and tables), use widely recognised abbreviations. As an example, for New Zealand gross national product, use NZ and GNP, with a link if the term has not already been written out: NZ GNP; do not use the made-up initialism NZGNP).

Full points (periods)[edit]

Modern style is to use a full point (period) after a shortening (see § Exceptions) but no full point with an acronym. In the case of an acronym containing full points between letters, it should also have a full point after the final letter. If an abbreviation ending in a full point ends a sentence, do not use an extra full point (e.g. They lived near Courtyard Sq., not They lived near Courtyard Sq..).

Contractions that contain an apostrophe (don't, shouldn't, she'd) never take a period (except at the end of a sentence, of course). They are also not used in encyclopedia content except in quotations or titles of works, as noted below. Contractions that do not contain an apostrophe almost always take a period in North American English, but the point is optional in British English: Doctor can be abbreviated Dr. in American and Canadian English, but Dr. or Dr in British English. If in doubt, or if the dot-less usage could be confusing in the context, use the point. An exception is units of measurement, which never use periods (see WP:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers).

Expanded forms[edit]

Do not apply initial capitals – or any other form of emphasis – in a full term that is a common noun phrase, just because capitals are used in its abbreviation. Example: use digital scanning (DS), not Digital Scanning (DS) or digital scanning (DS).


Acronyms are abbreviations formed, usually, from the initial letters of words in a phrase.


An initialism is usually formed from some or all of the initial letters of words in a phrase. An acronym is sometimes considered to be an initialism which is pronounced as a word (e.g. NATO), as distinct from the case where the initialism is said as a string of individual letters (e.g. "UN" for the United Nations); a more precise term is word acronym, since acronym by itself is also frequently inclusive of initialisms. Herein, the term acronym applies collectively to initialisms, without distinction that an acronym is said as a word.

Do not edit-war over these terms. If using more precise terms like word acronym and initialism, please link to Acronym#Nomenclature, where they are explained for readers.

Formation and usage[edit]

  • Capitalisation: Some acronyms are written with all capital letters, some with a mixture of capitals and lower-case letters and some are written as common nouns (e.g. laser). Acronyms whose letters are pronounced individually are written in capitals. For more guidance on the capitalisation of acronyms, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Acronyms.
  • Spacing: The letters of acronyms should not be spaced.
  • Plurals: Plural acronyms are written with a lower-case s after the abbreviation, without an apostrophe, unless full points are used between the letters (e.g. ABCs or A.B.C.'s). Note that Wikipedia generally avoids using full point in upper-case acronyms.
  • Emphasis: Do not apply special style, such as SMALL CAPS, to acronyms. Do not apply italics, boldfacing, underlining, or other highlighting to the letters in the expansion of an acronym that correspond to the letters in the acronym, as in BX (Base Exchange). It is not necessary to state that an acronym is an acronym. Our readers should not be browbeaten with the obvious.

If there is an article about the subject of an acronym (e.g. NATO), then other articles referring to or using the acronym should use the same style (capitalisation and punctuation) that has been used within the main article. If no article exists for the subject acronym, then style should be resolved by considering consistent usage in source material.

Unless specified in the "Exceptions" section below, an acronym should be written out in full the first time it is used on a page, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses, e.g. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) if it is used later in the article. Common exceptions to this rule are post-nominal initials because writing them out in full would cause clutter. Another exception is when something is most commonly known by its acronym (i.e., its article here is at the acronym title), in which case the expansion can come in the parenthetical or be omitted, except in the lead of its own article: according to the CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency).

To save space in small spaces (defined above), acronyms do not need to be written out in full. When not written out in full on the first use on a page, an acronym should be linked. An unambiguous acronym can be linked as-is, but an ambiguous acronym should be linked to its expansion. Upon later re-use in a long article, the template {{abbr}} can be used to provide a mouse-over tooltip giving the meaning of the acronym again without having to redundantly link it or spell it out again in the main text: {{abbr|CIA|US Central Intelligence Agency}}, giving: CIA.

For partial acronyms formed using the now-rare convention of including whole short words in them, do not blindly "normalise" them to typical current style, but write each as found in the majority of modern reliable sources. Examples: "Commander-in-Chief" is generally abbreviated CinC on its own, but may appear in all-caps when used in a longer acronym (especially a US government one) like CINCFLEET and CINCAIR. The Billiard Association of America was known as BA of A; while this should not be written as unsourceable variations like BAofA or BAA, the awkwardness of the abbreviation to modern eyes can be reduced by replacing the full-width spaces with thin-space characters: BA{{thinsp}}of{{thinsp}}A or BA of A gives BA of A, which better groups the letters into a unit.


Countries and multinational unions[edit]

For these commonly-referred-to entities, the full name does not need to be written out in full on first use, nor provided on first use in parentheses after the full name if written out.

EUEuropean Union
NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organization
UAEUnited Arab Emirates
UKUnited Kingdom
UNUnited NationsSimilarly for UN organisations such as UNESCO and UNICEF.
US or U.S.United StatesBoth variants are used, but avoid mixing dotted and undotted within the same article; use "US" in articles with other national abbreviations, e.g. "UK" or "UAE". Using United States instead of an acronym is often better formal writing style, and is an opportunity for commonality. USA, U.S.A. and U.S. of A. are generally not used except in quoted material (see WP:Manual of Style#US and U.S.).
USSRUnion of Soviet Socialist Republics

Ship names[edit]

Ship name prefixes like HMS and USS should not be written out in full.

Time zones[edit]

Abbreviations for time zones (e.g. GMT and UTC) should not be written out in full in times.


Acronyms in this table do not need to be written out in full upon first use, except in their own articles or where not doing so would cause ambiguity.

ADanno Domini ("in the year of our Lord")Should not be written out in full in dates and does not need to be linked. Do not use in the year of our Lord or any other translation of Anno Domini.
AIDSacquired immunodeficiency syndrome
a.k.a. or AKAalso known asShould only be used in small spaces, otherwise use the full phrase. It does not need to be linked. Never use "aka". Use the {{a.k.a.}} template on first occurrence on the page to provide a mouse-over tooltip explaining the meaning: a.k.a.
AMamplitude modulation
amante meridiemShould not be written out in full in times, and does not need to be linked. It should not be written AM or A.M.
BBCBritish Broadcasting Corporation
BCbefore ChristShould not be written out in full in dates and does not need to be linked.
BCEBefore Common EraShould not be written out in full in dates.
CDcompact disc
CECommon EraShould not be written out in full in dates.
DVDdigital versatile disc
(or digital video disc)
Should not be written out in full and should not be linked to its expansion.
e.g.exempli gratia ("for example")Should not be italicised, linked, or written out in full in normal usage.
FMfrequency modulation
HDMIhigh-definition multimedia interface
HIVhuman immunodeficiency virus est ("that is" / "in other words")Should not be italicised, linked, or written out in full in normal usage.
laserlight amplification by stimulated emission of radiation
n/a or N/Anot applicableShould not be written n.a., N.A., NA or na.
NASANational Aeronautics and Space Administration
PCpersonal computerDoes not need to be written out in full on first use, nor provided on first use in parentheses after the full term if written out.
pmpost meridiemShould not be written out in full in times and does not need to be linked. It should not be written PM or P.M.
radarradio detection and ranging
scubaself-contained underwater breathing apparatus
sonarsound navigation and ranging
TVtelevisionGenerally use "TV" in most articles except historic articles and cultural or scholarly discussions, e.g. "TV show", "TV cameras", "the effects of television on speech patterns". Do not link or explain in normal usage.
USBuniversal serial bus

Acronyms in page titles[edit]

Acronyms should be used in a page name if the subject is known primarily by its abbreviation and that abbreviation is primarily associated with the subject (e.g. NASA; in contrast, consensus has rejected moving Central Intelligence Agency to its acronym, in view of arguments that the full name is used in professional and academic publications). In general, if readers somewhat familiar with the subject are likely to only recognise the name by its acronym, then the acronym should be used as a title.

One general exception to this rule deals with our strong preference for natural disambiguation. Many acronyms are used for several things; naming a page with the full name helps to avoid clashes. For instance, multiple TV/radio broadcasting companies share the initials ABC; even though some may be far better known by that acronym, our articles on those companies are found at, for example, American Broadcasting Company rather than ABC (US TV network). A useful test to determine what an abbreviation usually refers to can be done by checking Acronym Finder or and finding the relative usage. If it is found that a particular subject is overwhelmingly denoted by an unambiguous acronym, the article title on that subject can be expressed as the acronym and a disambiguation page can be used for the other subjects.

In many cases, no decision is necessary because a given acronym has several expansions, none of which is the most prominent. Under such circumstances, an article should be named with the spelled-out phrase and the acronym should be a disambiguation page providing descriptive links to all of them. See, for example, "AJAR", which disambiguates between "African Journal of AIDS Research" and "Australian Journal of Agricultural Research". A title like AJAR (African journal) should be avoided if at all possible. If the acronym and the full name are both in common use, both pages should exist, with one redirecting to the other (or as a disambiguation page).

Acronyms as disambiguators[edit]

To save space, acronyms should be used as disambiguators, when necessary. For example, "Great Northern Railway (U.S.)" and "Labour Party (UK)". The abbreviations are preferred over United States and United Kingdom, for brevity.

To help navigation, please create redirects that contain (US) and (U.S.). For example, "Great Northern Railway (US)" should redirect to "Great Northern Railway (U.S.)" (or the other way around).

Acronyms in category names[edit]


A contraction is an abbreviation of one or more words that has some or all of the middle letters removed but retains the first and final letters (e.g. Mr and aren't). Missing letters are replaced by an apostrophe in multiple-word contractions. Contractions should not be used in Wikipedia. The contraction o'clock is an exception, as it is mandatory in all forms of writing.

Prefix titles such as Mr and Dr should not be used. Prefixes of royalty and nobility should be used, however (in accordance with a relevant style guide), but should not be abbreviated. (See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people)#Titles and styles and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (royalty and nobility).)


For initials in biographical names, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies § Initials.


A shortening is an abbreviation of a word for which at least the last letter has been removed (e.g. etc. and rhino). Some shortenings also contain letters that are not present in their expansion (e.g. bike). Whether or not to follow a shortening with a full point often comes down to individual cases, but, as a general rule, use a full point after a shortening that only exists in writing (e.g. etc.) but not for a shortening that is used in speech (e.g. rhino). Common sense should be applied to judge whether a shortening is acceptable in prose or not. Words such as rhino and bike should be avoided; etc. should be used over et cetera, and informal terms, such as wanna, are not used in Wikipedia articles. Uncommon shortenings should be linked on the first use on a page.

Song-writing credits[edit]

Outside of prose, trad. and arr. may be used in song-writing credits to save space. On first usage, use {{trad.}} and {{arr.}}, which will display a mouse-over tooltip expanding the abbreviation.

Miscellaneous shortenings[edit]

approx.approximatelyIt should only be used in small spaces. It does not need to be linked.
c.circa ("around")In dates, to indicate around, approximately, or about, the unitalicised abbreviation c. is preferred over circa, ca, ca., approximately, or approx. It should not be italicised in normal usage. The template {{circa}} may be used.
cf.confer ("compare" / "consult")It should be linked on first use.
Co.CompanyIt should only be used in the names of companies (like: "PLC", "LLC", "Inc.", "Ltd.", "GmbH" etc.), and can usually be omitted unless an ambiguity would result. It does not need to be linked.
ed. (eds.)edition/editor (editions/editors)This shortening (and its plural contraction) should only be used in references. It does not need to be linked.
et alii ("and others")It should normally only be used in references and where it is part of a name, such as of a legal case, e.g. United States v. Thompson et al.
fl.floruit ("flourished")It should be linked on first use. Do not use flor. or flr.
lit.literal or literal translation
rev.revisedIt should only be used in references. It does not need to be linked.
vs (against / in contrast to)They do not need to be linked. Prefer "vs." except in legal contexts, where the usage is "v." or "v", depending on jurisdiction. They should not be italicised since they have long been assimilated into the language as an English word. The full word should be used in most cases, but it is conventional to use an abbreviation in certain contexts, including law and sports.
viz.videlicet ("that is to say" / "namely")It should be linked on first use.


Unit symbols[edit]

Miscellaneous symbols[edit]

  • The ampersand (&), a replacement for the word and, should only be used in small spaces such as tables and infoboxes, but, preferably, should be avoided even there. However, it is common in many trademarks and titles of published works, and should be retained when found in them.
  • The at sign (@) should not be used in the place of the word at in normal text.

Unicode abbreviation ligatures[edit]

Do not use Unicode characters that put an abbreviation into a single character (unless the character itself is the subject of the text), e.g.: №, ㋏, ㎇, ㉐, Ⅶ, ℅, ™︎. These are not all well-supported in Western fonts. This does not apply to currency symbols, such as ₨ and ₠.

Latin abbreviations[edit]

In normal usage, abbreviations of Latin words and phrases should be italicised, except AD, c., e.g., etc. and i.e., which have become ordinary parts of the English language. The expansions of Latin abbreviations should still be italicised, as with most foreign words and phrases (Anno Domini, circa, exempli gratia, et cetera, id est). These are not normally used in article prose.

Do not use &c. in the place of etc.

Abbreviations widely used in Wikipedia[edit]

Wikipedia has found it both practical and efficient to use the following abbreviations, although some can often be replaced by unabbreviated equivalents (that is for i.e., namely for viz., and so on). Versions of non-acronym abbreviations that do not end in stops (periods) are more common in British than North American English, and are always abbreviations that compress a word while retaining its first and last letters, rather than truncating. That said, US military ranks are often given without this punctuation. The Manual of Style on abbreviations, above, eschews the use of periods with acronyms (M.D., Ph.D.).

BoulevardBlvd. or Blvd
EastE. or E (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
FreewayFwy. or Fwy (the term is not generally used outside of North America)
HighwayHwy. or Hwy (the term is not generally used outside of North America)
MotorwayMwy (the term is not generally used in North America)
MountainMtn. or Mtn
MountMt. or Mt
NorthN. or N (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
North East or NortheastN.E. or NE (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
North West or NorthwestN.W. or NW (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
RoadRd. or Rd
SouthS. or S (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
South East or SoutheastS.E. or SE (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
South West or SouthwestS.W. or SW (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
StreetSt. or St
WestW. or W (use only in street addresses, not in other text)
Organisation name elements
AssociationAssn. or Assn
Doing business asd.b.a. or DBA (avoid d/b/a and D/B/A; these are obsolete)
LimitedLtd. or Ltd
 Limited liability company (or partnership)LLC (LLP)
 Public limited companyplc or PLC
ManufacturingMfg. or Mfg
PublicationsPub., Pubs., Pubs
PublishingPubg. or Pubg
UniversityUniv., U. or Uni.
Academic degrees, professional titles, etc., used with personal names
Bachelor of Arts (Artium Baccalaureus)BA or AB
Bachelor of Laws (Legum Baccalaureus)LLB
Bachelor of ScienceBS or BSc
Master of ArtsMA or AM
Master of ScienceMS or MSc
DoctorDr. or Dr
 Doctor of Medicine (Medicinæ Doctor)MD
 Doctor of Philosophy (Philosophiæ Doctor)PhD
 Right HonourableRt. Hon. or Rt Hon.
JuniorJnr (not to be confused with Jr.)
MonsignorMons., Msgr. or Msgr
Registered nurseRN
ReverendRev. or Revd
SaintSt. or St
SeniorSnr (not to be confused with Sr.)
Military ranks
ColonelCol. or Col
CommanderCmdr., Cmdr, Cdr or Comdr
MajorMaj. or Maj
LieutenantLt. or Lt
Master sergeantMSgt. or MSgt
Technical sergeantTSgt. or TSgt
Staff sergeantSSgt. or SSgt
SergeantSgt. or Sgt
CorporalCpl. or Cpl
PrivatePvt. or Pvt

Special considerations[edit]

  • Postal codes and abbreviations of place names – e.g. Calif. (California), TX (Texas), Yorks. (Yorkshire) – should not be used to stand in for the full names in normal text. This includes when specifying places of publication in source citations (which need not be done after the first occurrence of the publisher). They can be used in tables when space is tight, but should be marked up with {{abbr}} template on first occurrence. They should not be used in infoboxes.
  • "Saint[e]" versus "St" or "St." in placenames should depend upon the official usage.
  • Abbreviations should be written in the same fashion each time they are used within the same page (e.g. "US" and "U.S." should not be alternated, and "U.S." should not be used in an article that contains "UK" and other country acronyms; see WP:Manual of Style#US and U.S.
  • Year numbers should not be abbreviated, because this easily creates ambiguity. In other words, do not shorten four-digit year numbers (like 2012) to two digits (like 12 or '12), including in ranges (use 2011–2012 not 2011–12). See WP:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Dates, months and years.

See also[edit]