Abbreviations and contractions

An abbreviation omits letters from the end of a word and a contraction omits letters from the middle of a word. In general, the letters in abbreviations and contractions should not be separated by full stops or spaces. When abbreviating the names of degrees awarded, only the first letter should be capitalised.

Personal Titles

Professor should not be abbreviated to ‘Prof’ in written communication. Contracted titles such as Dr, Mr and Mrs should not be followed by a full stop.

For example:

  • Dr Cristina Lo Celso has been named as the winner of the Foulkes Foundation Medal 2017.

Latin abbreviations

If possible, avoid using Latin abbreviations ‘eg’, ‘etc’ and ‘ie’, in prose. If you do need to use a Latin abbreviation, be sure you know what it means and when to use it. Latin abbreviations should be written in lower case and not italicised.

  • eg [exempli gratia] means ‘for example’. It should be used for lists that are not exhaustive and is followed by a comma.
  • ie [id est] means ‘that is to say’ or ‘in essence’. It should be used for definitions or lists that are exhaustive and is followed by a comma.
  • etc [et cetera] means ‘and the rest’ and indicates the continuation of a list.

For example:

  • The use of online or cloud applications eg, Eventbrite, Wufoo and Doodle, to organise events and gather opinions has increased in recent years.
  • By proceeding with enrolment, ie, payment for a course, you agree to our Terms & Conditions.
  • The College considers mitigating circumstances affecting academic performance in relation to examinations, coursework, attendance, etc.

Acronyms and intialisms

An acronym is an abbreviation formed of the initial letters of words in a set phrase or series of words, and pronounced as a single word, for example, OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries). An initialism consists of the first letters of words and which are pronounced as separate letters when they are spoken, for example, BBC.

In general, acronyms and initialisms should be spelt out in full the first time they are used, with the abbreviation following in brackets if the term will be used again in the piece. Subsequently, the abbreviation can be used alone. This may not be necessary for acronyms and initialisms that will be widely recognised by your readers (for example, CV, BBC, UN, PDF, NHS, NASA, AIDS).

For example:

  • The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) works to eliminate the effects of schistosomiasis and intestinal worms among the world’s poorest populations. Hundreds of Imperial alumni have donated money to support the SCI.
  • Professor Dallman was interviewed recently by CNN.
  • Applicants should submit their CVs and covering letters by 17 June.

For names, where possible use the full name. If this is not feasible (for example, if an individual prefers to use his or her initials only), a person’s initials should be followed by a full stop. If there is more than one initial, there should be no spaces between the full stop and the next letter.

For example:

  • Professor Alice P. Gast became President of Imperial College London in 2014.
  • C.V. Boys was a British physicist who taught at the Royal College of Science (now part of Imperial) at the end of the nineteenth century.

Ampersands

Ampersands should only be used when they form part of a title or name. In all other instances, ‘and’ should be spelt out.

For example:

  • Dr Smith has acted as an advisor to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
  • Abby is studying for an MSc in Advanced Materials Science and Engineering.
  • The Translation & Innovation Hub at the White City Campus opened in 2016.

FIND OUT MORE

Read the numbers section for abbreviations related to weights, measures and currency.