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Student Learning: Grammar

Using capitals - Lesson three

  1. 3.1 Acronyms:

    Capitals are used when writing acronyms. At the most basic level an acronym is an abbreviated word made up of the first letter of all important words in an organisation's full name, and each letter is capitalised. For example, USA is short for United States of America. In this example notice how the small unimportant word of is not included in the acronym.
    Note: in academic writing you need to write the full name of the organisation first, followed by the acronym in parentheses, if you are intending to use the acronym at a later stage.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is a member of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). Helen Clark is head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which operates as part of the UNDG.

  1. 3.2 Acronyms that have become actual words in English:

    Some acronyms are made up of the first letters of just some important words, or of select words. Capitalisation varies in these words, but tends to be not capitalised if it is pronounced as a new word in its own right and if it is describing a thing. For example scuba has become a word in its own right despite being an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. If this type of acronym is short for an organisation, it will probably start with a capital letter.

The availability of radar significantly increased revenue from traffic offences.

Heindrich was an infamous Gestapo officer.