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by Chelsea Lee This post will address how to use abbreviations in APA Style—specifically, how to use acronyms, which are abbreviations made up of the first letters of each word in a phrase. You can find abbreviations discussed in the The first time you use an abbreviation in the text, present both the spelled-out version and the short form.
Note that if two different groups would abbreviate to the same form (e.g., both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association abbreviate to APA), you cannot use the abbreviation in your paper—instead you must spell out the term every time to avoid ambiguity.
An exception to abbreviations in the reference list is when works have been published using abbreviations as part of the author, title, or source.
Sometimes an abbreviation is presented along with an in-text citation.
For example, you might cite a test or measure that has an abbreviation and then provide its citation (for a common case, here is how to cite the ). Writing out the full term in the title will ensure potential readers know exactly what you mean, and if your article is formally published, it will ensure it is accurately indexed.
But academic writing uses other Latin abbreviations too.
You might have seen ‘et al.’ (‘and others’), ‘ibid.’ (‘in the same place’) and ‘op cit.’ (‘in the work cited’) used for referencing sources.If you do use an abbreviation in a running head, you can use it straightaway without definition.Instead, define the abbreviation the first time you use it in the text.Retain these abbreviations because the reader will need them to retrieve the source (you also do not need to define them—just present them as-is).See more about this in our post on cite what you see.You are not obligated to abbreviate the name of a group author, but you can if the abbreviation would help avoid cumbersome repetition and will appear more than three times in the paper.As with other abbreviations, spell out the name of the group upon first mention in the text and then provide the abbreviation.We recommend that you avoid them—for example, the reader may skim the paper before reading it in full, and abbreviations in headings may be difficult to understand out of context.So, if a term you intend to abbreviate appears in a heading (e.g., the name of a test or measure), spell out the term in the heading and then when it first appears in the text, spell it out again and define it there.The key is knowing which abbreviations are used in your subject area, especially in disciplines like law where Latin terms are very common.Other common abbreviations include titles, measurements and dates: Whether to put a full stop after an abbreviation can be confusing, as rules vary.