Video (from Youtube): Abbreviations in academic writing, from LDG Huddersfield (new tab). (Watching time: 1m:44secs)
NB: The first of the videos on this playlist is relevant to the content of this lesson, but the two others are interesting too, and they are quite short, so feel okay to watch them all if you want to.
Abbreviations in academic writing
The abbreviations to avoid, and the ones that are okay.
Using abbreviations such as e.g. etc. and i.e. are considered too informal for academic writing. Your teachers would prefer if you integrate those ideas more seamlessly into your sentence structure.
* When one activity has become tiresome, (e.g. writing an abstract essay on a specious theme), we find something else to do momentarily until our interest is sufficiently replenished. * Note: The red asterisks means this is an example of poor writing.
Here is a better attempt:
When one activity has become tiresome, (such as writing an abstract essay on a specious theme), we find something else to do momentarily until our interest is sufficiently replenished.
(PS: Sentence adapted from a 3rd year philosophy of religion essay)
Good abbreviations in academic writing:
et al. means and the others and you should use this abbreviation in your referencing. Another abbreviation that is sometimes used is ibid. meaning [from] the same place, but be careful; not all lecturers acknowledge this as sufficiently formal, and it is not an APA referencing convention, so check with each of your lecturers before using it.
Punctuation, capitalisation and full stops
How abbreviations are different from acronyms and when you would expect to use them in academic writing.
Unlike acronyms (which make a new word by taking letters from several words) abbreviations are words made by removing some of the the letters from one original word. Most of us develop our own personal abbreviations as a time-saving-measure, and likewise different fields of study develop their own accepted abbreviations. Some examples are Prof. (Professor), corp. (corporation), ed. (edition), sq. (square). In most academic writing you will use these sparingly.
Helen Clark's husband is Dr. Peter Davis. He first met Ms. Clark at university in the 1970s.
The Rt. Hon. Jim Bolger was formerly chancellor of the University of Waikato.
There will be a book signing by Prof. Ken Ring, founder of Predictions Are Us Ltd.
Punctuation with abbreviations
British punctuation is different from American punctuation - so you have to decide which you'd like to use.
It was traditional practice to place a full stop after a word to show it had been abbreviated. This is still good practice and is common in US English, but in Britain and New Zealand we tend to avoid using the full stop after words which have their first and last letter in the abbreviation. For example we make Mr by taking the M and r from Mister. So, no full stop needed. Other examples are Doctor (Dr), Mistress (Mrs), or again Mistress (Ms), Association (Assn).
Helen Clark's husband is Dr Peter Davis. He first met Ms Clark at university in the 1970s.
There will be a book signing by Prof. Ken Ring.
The Rt Hon. Jim Bolger was also head of KiwiRail.
If you are unsure about this it is safest to place a full stop beside all abbreviations (like the Americans do).
Complete the quiz items below to see if you have understood this lesson. Then click the blue arrow at the bottom of the page to check your answers.
Instructions: Hover or tap the questions below to see the reason for the answers given in the quiz.
1. Select Yes if the sentence below uses abbreviations properly, otherwise select No.
Doctor Smith was the first on the accident scene. Being a Dr, she was used to such events.
Why: An abbreviation like Dr can only be used as a title. The sentence should read "Dr Smith was the first on the accident scene. Being a doctor, she was used to such events."
2. Which of the following abbreviations are acceptable for using in an academic essay?
e.g. (for example) | i.e. (that is) | et al. (and the others) | mm (millimetres) | etc. (et cetera)
et al. ✔ | mm ✔
Why: It is best to avoid contractions and abbreviations in academic writing, apart from some sanctioned exceptions.
3. Which of these are abbreviations?
abbrv. | Ltd | ABBA | Mr | Ave. | AM
abbrv. ✔ | Ltd ✔ | Mr ✔ | Ave. ✔
Why: These are abbreviations because they are shortened versions of words. (The others are acronyms because they are formed by taking the first letters of several words).
4. Is "NZ" an abbreviation of New Zealand, or an acronym for New Zealand?
Why: Acronyms are combinations made up of the first letters of a series of words. In academic writing you can sometimes make your own acronyms. Abbreviations however, are usually specified by convention, and you are expected to follow the convention.