The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Jun 15, 2019

You’ve no doubt used most of the amazing reports ProWritingAid runs on your work, but you might have skipped the Acronym Check. Let’s look at why you should reconsider it and when you need to use it.

Contents:
  1. What is an acronym?
  2. Common social media acronyms
  3. How to use acronyms properly
  4. Acronyms and consistency
  5. When should you use the Acronym Check?
  6. Final thoughts

What is an acronym?

An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the first letters of a string of words pronounced as its own word. For example, consider the acronym NASA. You know how it’s pronounced as a separate word, but it comprises the first letters of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Today, many people communicate in acronyms and abbreviations. You may have seen some of these, especially in social media.

Common social media acronyms

  • ICYMI: In case you missed it
  • FOMO: Fear of missing out
  • YOLO: You only live once
  • IMHO: In my humble opinion
  • LMK: Let me know
  • NSFW: Not safe for work
  • TL;DR: Too long; didn’t read

How to use acronyms properly

Always write out the full text of an acronym the first time you use it. Follow it with the acronym in parentheses. For example, you would write:

  • United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

Then, every time you use the terms afterwards, use only the capital letters, or the acronym.

When deciding whether to use "a" or "an" before an acronym, go for the sound of the word, not the letter itself. Let’s say you’ve used the acronym ASP which stands for "application service provider" but is pronounced like the snake. Since the sound of the word is a vowel sound, you would use "an ASP." The same would work for the acronym AIDS.

If the beginning sound of your acronym is a consonant, you would use "a" instead, such as "a CAD program" where CAD stands for computer aided design.

Acronyms and consistency

The purpose behind ProWritingAid’s Acronym Check is to make sure you’ve properly identified acronyms in your content. For example, the first time you use an acronym in your text, you should introduce it. For every subsequent time you use it, you merely type the acronym.

Run an Acronym Check to make sure you’ve only introduced an acronym once, not multiple times. It also checks if you used the acronym in a different case later in your content. For example, say you used "NASA" in the beginning of an article, but later on, you referred to it as "Nasa." ProWritingAid flags those for you to keep your content consistent.

It’s just one more way that ProWritingAid has your back by finding annoying errors we have a tendency to overlook when self-editing.

When should you use the Acronym Check?

Since normal spell checkers don't pick up acronyms, you need a foolproof way to make sure you use and introduce any acronym in your text correctly. Rather than rely on your eyes to catch mistakes, run the Acronym Check.

Run the Acronym Check when you need to see all the acronyms you’ve used in your text. Let’s say you need to create a glossary of terms. This check finds each one instantly for you.

It also finds any misspelled acronyms and instances where you forgot to introduce your acronym or when you’ve introduced an acronym more than once. For example, your story is about a person in the armed forces who goes AWOL. You’ve defined what AWOL stands for earlier, but forgot half way through and defined it again. Or consider if you accidentally typed "AWAL" instead. ProWritingAid’s Acronym Check finds all those instances.

Final thoughts

Who knows what "TED" in TEDTalks stands for? "Tell me, Explain to me, Describe to me." When you use a series of letters to create an abbreviation that people pronounce as a separate word, you need the Acronym Check. And don’t forget to define your acronyms so readers understand what the letters stand for. Make sure your acronyms are crystal clear with ProWritingAid’s Acronym Check.

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The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.