The Efficient Editor on Acronyms: Do You Know JACK?

Video transcript

Does this kind of thing look familiar?

Do you know JACK? Lots of people like to look like they know JACK.

Acronyms – those abbreviations made of the first letter or two of words – are very popular in many contexts. They can also be a real PITA.

Welcome to today’s episode of The Efficient Editor.

You’re never going to GAFA (that’s Get Away From Acronyms). So you need to make sure you’re SMART (that’s Sensible, Methodical, And Really… uh, Thinking).

Here are some key pitfalls to avoid. First, are you using periods in them? (That’s “full stops” if you’re from anywhere other than North America.) Check your style guide – Chicago, APA, AP, and the others all have opinions and guidance. And some style guides will say yes to periods in some acronyms… and no to periods in others.

Above all, make sure you handle the same acronym the same way throughout. Also make sure that the same acronym isn’t defined more than one way. For that matter, you usually don’t need to define an acronym the same way more than once, either. And if it’s familiar to everyone, you may not need to define it at all. You may not even need to create an acronym, if you refer to it only once… or if you use the full name every other time you mention it. And, on the other hand, make sure not to use an unfamiliar acronym without defining it; and make sure you define it the first time you use it, not later.

But all of that is a lot to check and keep track of. So it’s good to have software to help you do it. In seconds, PerfectIt will check your abbreviations—in other words, your acronyms. It will spot any acronym handled more than one way…

  • and any acronym defined more than one way;
  • and any acronym that’s defined more than once;
  • and any acronym that’s used only once;
  • and any acronym that’s used before it’s defined;
  • and any acronym that’s not defined at all!

PerfectIt will even generate a table of all the acronyms you use, with their definitions.

If you aren’t already a PerfectIt user, there’s a free trial. PerfectIt is an add-in for Microsoft Word that works on both PCs and Macs! If this video has helped you know JACK, please share it with your friends. And stay tuned for the next episode of The Efficient Editor!