Links on this page
- Academic degrees
- Dates and time
- e.g. and i.e
- Examination titles
- GPA, grade-point average
- Northern Arizona University
- Postgrad, postdocc, and postbacc
- State abbreviations
- United States
Abbreviations and acronyms
As a general rule, do not use periods in abbreviations except where specific exceptions are described here, including The W. A. Franke College of Business.
Any initials coming from a name (such as The W. A. Franke College of Business or J. L. Walkup) should have periods and a space between the two initials, just as the two names would have a space. All other acronyms should not have periods or spaces.
When incorporating degree abbreviations in text, use PhD, EdD, MA, MS, BA, and BS with no periods. Generally use degree abbreviations instead of titles (use Jane Doe, PhD–not Dr. Jane Doe). Never use both the title and degree abbreviation (Dr. Jane Doe, PhD).
On first reference, spell out names of schools and colleges, government agencies, associations, fraternal and service organizations, unions, and other groups. You can use acronyms on second reference, but avoid using too many; they clutter your text. If you choose to use an acronym or initialism after the first reference, put it in parentheses immediately following the spelled-out version. The exception is NAU; it does not need to be included in parentheses after the spelled-out version (see Northern Arizona University entry below).
“Victoria Gonzalez credits her freshman year success to her participation in the Successful Transition and Academic Readiness (STAR) program. To help new students, she is now a STAR mentor.”
In general, always spell out the word and. Only use an ampersand (&) in official business, agency, and institutional names, or in tabular material when space is limited. Spell out and on website headers and menu items except where space requires the ampersand (&).
Ampersands are permitted in official college logos; however, spell out when using the college name in running text.
Right: Students from the College of The Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences received awards.
Wrong: Students from the College of The Environment, Forestry, & Natural Sciences received awards.
- Days of the week: Spell out days of the week. Where space is limited, use one of the following abbreviation systems:
- Sun. or Su
- Mon. or M
- Tues. or Tu
- Wed. or W
- Thurs. or Th
- Fri. or F
- Sat. or Sa
- Months: Spell out the month. Where space is limited, such as lists, use the following abbreviations:
- Jan. or Jan
- Feb. or Feb
- Mar. or Mar
- Apr. or Apr
- Jun. or Jun
- Jul. or Jul
- Aug. or Aug
- Sept. or Sept
- Oct. or Oct
- Nov. or Nov
- Dec. or Dec
- Time terminology:
- General rules
- Use small caps with no periods or lowercase with periods.
- Use noon and midnight instead of 12 p.m. and 12 a.m.
- Do not use: 00 for times on the hour: 5 p.m. Add a space between the number and the letter (not 1p.m. but 1 p.m.).
- Before and after midday (AM vs. PM)
- AM, a.m. – ante meridiem or “before midday”
- PM, p.m. – post meridiem or “after midday”
- 9 a.m.–noon
- 10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
- 8–10 a.m.
- Era terminology: use uppercase (preferably small caps), no periods. Choice of the era designation depends on tradition, academic discipline, or personal preference.
- AD – anno Domini, meaning time within Christian Era
- BC – before Christ
- BCE – before the Christian Era or before the Common Era
- CE – Christian Era or the Common Era
- e.g. is an abbreviation of exempli gratia, meaning “for example”
- i.e. is an abbreviation of id est, meaning “that is” or “in other words”
Always use a comma before and after either of these abbreviations.
Abbreviation for et cetera, literally “and others of the same kind.”
Use a comma following “etc.” when required by surrounding text.
On first reference, it’s not necessary to spell out examination titles, such as ACT, SAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, MAT, MCAT; use Arabic numerals for titles such as SAT-1.
Use either, usually with two numbers after the decimal: 4.00, 2.25.
Always spell out first usage in documents and publications. In subsequent references, use the university or use the initialism NAU sparingly. NAU does not need to be placed in parentheses after the first reference is spelled out (see the Acronyms entry above).
Avoid shortening these academic terms whenever possible. Postgraduate, postdoctoral, and postbaccalaureate are preferred. When abbreviations are absolutely necessary, do not add a space or hyphen between elements in the compound.
Preferred: Postgraduate, postdoctoral, and postbaccalaureate
Correct: Postgrad, postdoc, and postbacc
Incorrect: Post-grad, post grad, post-doc, post doc, post-bacc, post bacc, post-bac, or post bac
Spelling out state names in running text is preferred; the state name is set off by commas.
Northern Arizona University is in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the base of the San Francisco Peaks.
In lists of several state names, use the postal codes.
WUE states include AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, NM, ND, OR, ND, SD, UT, WA, and WY.
- Abbreviate and don’t use periods when used as an adjective:
- US Department of Education
- Spell out in running text when used as a noun:
- Her grandparents immigrated to the United States in the 1930s.