Abbreviations are important in writing because they offer shorter alternatives for words or phrases. These shorter forms, like acronyms made from the first letters of words, help make writing more efficient and clear when used correctly. Learning how to format abbreviations in APA style is necessary to create accurate citations.
WHEN TO USE ABBREVIATIONS
In APA style, abbreviations are used for the following reasons.
Conventional: Readers are likely to be more familiar with the abbreviation than the complete form.
Space-saving: The use of an abbreviation results in significant space savings and avoids cumbersome repetition.
USING ABBREVIATIONS IN APA CITATIONS
Make citations concise by following the APA’s abbreviation rules for reference clarity.
When incorporating abbreviations into citations, adhere to the following formatting guidelines:
ABBREVIATION IN APA
Ed. or Eds.
p. or pp.
Vol. or Vols.
Abbreviate the first and middle names of authors and editors, using proper capitalization, as seen in the example: Lowe, S. P., Tailor, M. Q.
Contextual Consistency Matters: When incorporating abbreviations in your paper, maintain consistency in usage. Ensure that once an abbreviation is introduced, it remains consistent throughout the text. This not only streamlines reader understanding but also contributes to the overall coherence of your writing.
Mindful Integration of Abbreviations in Headings: While abbreviations can enhance conciseness, it’s crucial to avoid introducing them within headings. Headings serve as navigational aids, and introducing new abbreviations in these sections can disrupt the flow. However, once an abbreviation has been established in the main text, feel free to use it in subsequent headings to maintain a cohesive structure.
USING ABBREVIATIONS IN A PAPER
When introducing an abbreviation within your paper, follow these steps:
The abbreviation must be spelled out the first time it is used, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses.
Subsequent uses should only feature the abbreviation.
Ensure that the abbreviation is used at least three times in the paper; otherwise, stick to the complete word or phrase.
Avoid introducing abbreviations within headings.
AVOID PERIODS IN ABBREVIATIONS
Unlike some other writing styles, APA discourages the use of periods with abbreviations in a paper.
Doctor of Medicine
Bachelor of Arts
Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy
National Basketball Association
Exceptions to the no-period rule in abbreviations include using a period when shortening “United States” as an adjective (U.S. Constitution or U.S. Embassy) and when abbreviating “inch” (in.) to prevent confusion. However, do not abbreviate terms such as day, week, month, or year.
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