Acronyms and Abbreviations - Web Team Procedures and Notes

This page is intended for use only by the Web Team.

(Updated June 1, 2011.)

Web Team Note

[This page has been edited and edited, but not proofread, so it may be confusing!]

Because I could drive myself crazy (and have partly already!), the Web Team will limit using <abbr title="description" class="acronym/initialism">XYZ</abbr>, <abbr title="description">XYZ</abbr>, and <abbr class="acronym/initialism">XYZ</abbr> to when the abbreviation/acronym is unusual, not generally known (for example, "aka" may not be known to non-English speakers), confusing, or when pronouncing the abbreviation as a word (the default for abbr in this site's style sheet)—such as "ID" or "KOHL"—without class="initialism" doesn't make sense.

Where possible, use the full descriptive name followed by the abbreviation in parentheses—such as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—for the first occurence of the abbreviation on the web page. For initialisms such as this example, it is good to also use class="initialism" on an <abbr> tag around the "FBI" text so the screen reader sounds out each letter instead of pronouncing "Fibby").

The <acronym> tag is deprecated; use <abbr> with class="acronym".

Definition of Terms, HTML Examples, CSS Styles

Collected from a variety of sources on the web. Will be updated as new information comes to light.

At Ohlone, the Web Team is using these CSS styles for text-to-speech (spoken) web pages:

  • say it as a word:
    • abbr,
      abbr.acronym {speak:normal;}
  • say each letter separately:
    • abbr.initialism {speak:spell-out;}

I decided that also using "abbr.contraction" and "abbr.truncation" was too complex at this time.

abbreviation
Shortened form of a word or phrase. Types of abbreviations: acronym, contraction, initialism, truncation.
acronym
Type of abbreviation. A word formed from the initial parts (letters or syllables or parts) of a name. Forms a new word. <abbr> is deprecated in HTML5.
Examples:
  • <abbr title="North Atlantic Treaty Organization" class="acronym">NATO</abbr>
    (pronounced "Nay Toe")
contraction
Type of abbreviation. A word shortened by omission of a middle part. Does not form a new word. The full word is pronounced.
Examples:
  • <abbr title="Junior">Jr.</abbr>
    (should be pronounced "Junior", but is it?)
  • <abbr title="Department">Dept.</abbr>
    (should be pronounced "Department", but is it?)
  • <abbr title="Doctor">Dr.</abbr>
    (should be pronounced "Doctor", but is it?)
  • <abbr title="Reverend">Revd</abbr>
    (should be pronounced "Reverend", but is it?; see also contraction example)
initialism
Type of abbreviation. A group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression, each letter being pronounced separately. Does not form a word.
Examples:
  • <abbr title="Federal Bureau of Investigation" class="initialism">FBI</abbr>
    (spelled out as "Eff Bee Eye")
  • <abbr title="HyperText Markup Language" class="initialism">HTML</abbr>
    (spelled out as "Aych Tee Em Ell")
truncation
Type of abbreviation. An abbreviation of a word consisting only of the first part of the word. The full word is pronounced.
Examples:
  • <abbr title="Tuesday">Tues.</abbr>
    (should be pronounced "Tuesday", but is it?)
  • <abbr title="Reverend">Rev.</abbr>
    (should be pronounced "Reverend", but is it?; see also contraction example)

NOT SURE ABOUT state abbreviations (how are these pronounced?):

  • <abbr title="California">CA</abbr>
  • <abbr title="North Carolina">NC</abbr>
  • <abbr title="Iowa">IA</abbr>

More examples:

  • URL
    • (Recommended) URL is an initialism:
      <abbr title="Uniform Resource Locator" class="initialism">URL</abbr>
      (spelled out as "You Are Ell")
    • (Not recommended) URL as an acronym:
      <abbr title="Uniform Resource Locator" class="acronym">URL</abbr>
      (pronounced "earl")
  • SQL
    • (Correct) SQL is an initialism:
      <abbr title="Structured Query Language" class="initialism">SQL</abbr>
      (spelled out as "Ess Cue Ell")
    • (Not correct, but common) SQL as an acronym:
      <abbr title="Structured Query Language" class="acronym">SQL</abbr>
      (pronounced "sequel")

XHTML for Commonly Used Acronyms and Abbreviations

Note: On the Ohlone website, <abbr> will be used for abbreviations and acronyms (a form of abbreviation).

This is a quick reference for the Web Team's use.

From WebAIM, Designing for Screen Reader Compatibility: How Screen Readers Read Content:

Screen readers try to pronounce acronyms and nonsensical words if they have sufficient vowels/consonants to be pronounceable; otherwise, they spell out the letters. For example, NASA is pronounced as a word, whereas NSF is pronounced as "N. S. F." The acronym URL is pronounced "earl," even though most humans say "U. R. L." The acronym SQL is not pronounced "sequel" by screen readers even though some humans pronounce it that way; screen readers say "S. Q. L."

In general, acronyms spell pronouncable words, such as SOAR, and abbreviations do not spell pronouncable words, instead each letter is spelled out, such as USA , FBI, and MWF.

The first occurrence on each web page of an abbreviation/acronym should be marked up with the <abbr> tag including the title="full name of the entity" and class="acronym" attributes, such as <abbr title="Social Ohlone and Recognition" class="acronym">SOAR</abbr>.

The first occurrence on each web page of an abbreviation should also be marked up with the <abbr> tag including the title="full name of the entity" and class="initialism" attributes, such as <abbr title="United States of America" class="initialism">USA</abbr>.

QUESTION: What to do with an abbreviation that you want each word to be pronounced??? Such as with <abbr title="United States of America">USA</abbr> so the screen reader would say "United States of America" instead of spelling out "U S A". Well, I guess you should just spell it out then!! Ah-ha, simple answer! Like this "The United States of America does" instead of "The USA does".

Note that periods are not used in a majority of acronyms and abbreviations on the Ohlone College website.

AA
<abbr title="Associate in Arts" class="initialism">AA</abbr>
ADA
<abbr title="Americans with Disabilities Act" class="initialism">ADA</abbr>
AMAC
<abbr title="Alternate Media Access Committee" class="acronym">AMAC</abbr>
A&R
<abbr title="Admissions and Records" class="initialism">A&amp;R</abbr>
AIU
<abbr title="Alliant International University" class="initialism">AIU</abbr>
AS
<abbr title="Associate in Science" class="initialism">AS</abbr>
ASL
<abbr title="American Sign Language" class="initialism">ASL</abbr>
ASOC
<abbr title="Associated Students of Ohlone class="initialism"">ASOC</abbr>
BA
<abbr title="Bachelor of Arts" class="initialism">BA</abbr>
BS
<abbr title="Bachelor of Science" class="initialism">BS</abbr>
CAOT
<abbr title="Computer Applications and Occupational Technology" class="initialism">CAOT</abbr>
CAPAC
<abbr title="Course and Program Approval Committee" class="acronym">CAPAC</abbr>
CARE
<abbr title="Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education" class="acronym">CARE</abbr>
CCC
<abbr title="California Community Colleges" class="initialism">CCC</abbr>
CNET
<abbr title="Computers, Networks, and Emerging Technology" class="acronym">CNET</abbr>
CSEA
<abbr title="California School Employees Association" class="initialism">CSEA</abbr>
CSU
<abbr title="California State University" class="initialism">CSU</abbr>
CSU East Bay
<abbr title="California State University" class="initialism">CSU</abbr> East Bay
DSPS
<abbr title="Disabled Students Programs and Services" class="initialism">DSPS</abbr>
ECS
<abbr title="Early Childhood Studies" class="initialism">ECS</abbr>
EDT
<abbr title="Entertainment Design and Technology" class="initialism">EDT</abbr>
EOPS
<abbr title="Extended Opportunity Program and Services" class="initialism">EOPS</abbr>
ELC
<abbr title="English Learning Center" class="initialism">English Learning Center</abbr>
ESL
<abbr title="English as a Second Language" class="initialism">ESL</abbr>
FAFSA
<abbr title="Free Application for Federal Student Aid" class="acronym">FAFSA</abbr>
FAQ
<abbr title="Frequently Asked Question" class="acronym">FAQ</abbr>
FAQs
<abbr title="Frequently Asked Questions" class="acronym">FAQs</abbr>
GE
<abbr title="General Education" class="initialism">GE</abbr>
GIS
<abbr title="Geographic Information Systems" class="initialism">GIS</abbr>
GPA
<abbr title="grade point average" class="initialism">GPA</abbr>
GSA
<abbr title="Gay Straight Alliance" class="initialism">GSA</abbr>
GURC
<abbr title="Gallaudet University Regional Center" class="initialism">GURC</abbr>
ABBREVIATE WITH ROOM NUMBERS ONLY:
HH
<abbr title="Hyman Hall" class="initialism">HH</abbr>
HIV
<abbr title="Human Immunodeficiency Virus" class="initialism">HIV</abbr> (otherwise may be read as "hiv")
HTML
<abbr title="HyperText Markup Language" class="initialism">HTML</abbr>
ICC
<abbr title="Inter-Club Council" class="initialism">ICC</abbr>
ID
<abbr title="Identification" class="initialism">ID</abbr>
IGETC
<abbr title="Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum" class="acronym">IGETC</abbr>
IT Department
<abbr title="Information Technology" class="initialism">IT</abbr> Department
ITC
<abbr title="Innovation Technology Center" class="initialism">ITC</abbr>
KOHL
<abbr class="initialism">KOHL</abbr> (otherwise may be read as "cole")
LD
<abbr title="Learning Disabled" class="initialism">LD</abbr>
MA
<abbr title="Master of Arts" class="initialism">MA</abbr>
MLC
<abbr title="Math Learning Center" class="initialism">MLC</abbr>
MS
<abbr title="Master of Science" class="initialism">MS</abbr>
N/A (Not applicable; use depends on context)
<abbr title="Not applicable" class="initialism">N/A</abbr>
N/A (Not available; use depends on context)
<abbr title="Not available" class="initialism">N/A</abbr>
ABBREVIATE WITH ROOM NUMBERS ONLY:
NC
<abbr title="Newark Center" class="initialism">NC</abbr>
NMHS
<abbr title="Newark Memorial High School" class="initialism">NMHS</abbr>
OCNC (not commonly used)
<abbr title="Ohlone College Newark Center" class="initialism">OCNC</abbr>
ONTV
<abbr title="Ohlone Network Television" class="initialism">ONTV</abbr>
PDF
<abbr title="Portable Document Format" class="initialism">PDF</abbr>
PhD (formal - try not to use this because PhD is much more common)
<abbr title="Doctor of Philosophy" class="initialism">PhD</abbr>
PTA
<abbr title="Physical Therapist Assistant" class="initialism">PTA</abbr>
RN
<abbr title="Registered Nurse" class="initialism">RN</abbr>
RT
<abbr title="Respiratory Therapist" class="initialism">RT</abbr>
ABBREVIATE WITH ROOM NUMBERS ONLY:
SC
<abbr title="Smith Center" class="initialism">SC</abbr>
SEIU
<abbr title="Service Employees International Union" class="initialism">SEIU</abbr>
SOAR Committee
<abbr title="Social Ohlone And Recognition" class="acronym">SOAR</abbr> Committee
SSC
<abbr title="Student Services Center" class="initialism">SSC</abbr>
STARSS
<abbr title="Students Toward a Rapid Smoke-free School" class="acronym">STARSS</abbr>
STC (NOW DEFUNCT)
<abbr title="Student Technology Center" class="initialism">STC</abbr>
TAG
<abbr title="Transfer Admission Guarantee" class="acronym">TAG</abbr>
TACO (NOW DEFUNCT)
<abbr title="Technology Advisory Committee of Ohlone" class="acronym">TACO</abbr>
TBA
<abbr title="To be announced" class="initialism">TBA</abbr>
TBD
<abbr title="To be determined" class="initialism">TBD</abbr>
TCS (NOW DEFUNCT)
<abbr title="Transfer &amp; Career Services" class="initialism">TCS</abbr>
TV
<abbr title="television" class="initialism">TV</abbr>
UC
<abbr title="University of California" class="initialism">UC</abbr>
UC / CSU
<abbr title="University of California" class="initialism">UC</abbr> / <abbr title="California State University" class="initialism">CSU</abbr>
UE
<abbr title="University Express" class="initialism">UE</abbr>
UFO
<abbr title="United Faculty of Ohlone" class="initialism">UFO</abbr>
URL
<abbr title="Uniform Resource Locator class="initialism"">URL</abbr>
US
<abbr title="United States" class="initialism">US</abbr>
USA
<abbr title="United States of America" class="initialism">USA</abbr>
USD
<abbr title="United States Dollars" class="initialism">USD</abbr>
W3C
<abbr title="World Wide Web Consortium" class="initialism">W3C</abbr>
WEX
<abbr title="Work Experience" class="acronym">WEX</abbr>
WLAN
<abbr title="Wireless Local Area Network" class="initialism">WLAN</abbr>
XHTML
<abbr title="Extensible HyperText Markup Language" class="initialism">XHTML</abbr>

Abbreviations/Acronyms for Weekdays

Spell out the full word in the text whereever possible! If must abbreviate…

Preferred Until I Learn Otherwise!:
<abbr title="Monday, Wednesday, Friday">MWF</abbr>

Does that cause screen reader to say each word? Not enough information available! Other options:

  • <abbr title="Monday, Wednesday, Friday" class="initialism">MWF</abbr> - Each letter is pronounced; want each word pronounced.
  • <abbr title="Monday, Wednesday, Friday" class="acronym">MWF</abbr> - But wouldn't the screen reader try to pronounce MWF as a word?
FSa
<abbr title="Friday, Saturday">FSa</abbr>
M-F
<abbr title="Monday through Friday">M-F</abbr>
M-Th
<abbr title="Monday through Thursday">M-Th</abbr>
MW
<abbr title="Monday, Wednesday">MW</abbr>
MWF
<abbr title="Monday, Wednesday, Friday">MWF</abbr>
MTW
<abbr title="Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday">MTW</abbr>
MTWTh
<abbr title="Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday">MTWTh</abbr>
MTWTF
<abbr title="Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday">MTWTF</abbr>
MTWThF
<abbr title="Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday">MTWThF</abbr>
SaSu
<abbr title="Saturday, Sunday">SaSu</abbr>
TTh
<abbr title="Tuesday, Thursday">TTh</abbr>
WF
<abbr title="Wednesday, Friday">WF</abbr>