When using an acronym, spell out the full name at the first mention, followed by the acronym in parentheses. After that, you can just use the acronym. Use sparingly. In general, abbreviate words only when the short form is instantly recognizable.

  • Do not use an apostrophe to form the plural of an acronym.
    Example: URLs, not URL’s (no apostrophe required)
  • When using acronyms infrequently throughout a large document, it’s best to restate the full terms at the beginning of each chapter or section. (e.g., on every web page, not just the home page).
  • Well-known acronyms can be used in headlines (e.g., IQS, NASA, SLC), but the acronym should be spelled out in its full form in the body copy.
  • When abbreviating the name of a University of Waterloo faculty, do not include the “Faculty of.”
    Examples: Use Health (not FoH) Environment (not FoE), etc.
  • When abbreviating the name of a University of Waterloo department, write the name out in full followed by the abbreviation in parentheses on the first use. See the section on capitalization for more information. For course codes, always use the code, never spell it out (e.g., PSYCH, not Psychology)

For a full list of undergraduate and graduate program abbreviations, please see the list of degrees offered at Waterloo online (undergraduate programs and graduate studies).