Published On: Wed, Jul 29th, 2020

3 Secrets to an Abbreviation

The English language is full or long and drawn out words that can make it hard to convey information rapidly. This shortcoming of language was understood as early as the mid nineteenth century when shorthand was first created. Shorthand was a quicker and more efficient way for scribes or note takers to quickly get the most important information down on the paper without worrying about syntax, grammar, or taking the time to write drawn out words. The natural progression from shorthand was the use of abbreviations. Abbreviations allow people to not only record information in a more concise manner, it also allows readers to quickly understand the concept without having to read through potentially lengthy information. Below are 3 secrets to creating and reading abbreviations. 


Creating abbreviations is somewhat of a daunting task. Take the well known abbreviation for tablespoon as an example. Tbsp. is the abbreviation and is a quite clever one at that. Since tablespoon and teaspoon sound very close to one another there needs to be a distinction between the two abbreviations. Had the abbreviation simply been “TS.” it could cause huge confusion in the distinction between the two and ultimately cause the transfer of information from the writer to the reader to be distorted. By adding the “B” in Tbsp. it allows for a clear differentiation that it is talking about a tablespoon as it is the only one with a “B” in its name. For creating your own unique abbreviation it is important to always consider words that are similar to the word you are trying to abbreviate. Including letters that are distinct to the word you are abbreviating is important to effectively communicate that word. 

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Some abbreviations can be difficult for readers  to understand if they are unfamiliar with them. Utilizing the resources you have can make finding the meaning behind abbreviations easier. The internet is an excellent resource to find the intended meaning of unknown abbreviation. Simply searching the abbreviation could give you the answer you are looking for. Additionally using context clues can give insight into the intended word for an unknown abbreviation. With well written text using abbreviations, the meaning should be clear and concise as these abbreviations are meant to be in the first place.


The most common utilization of abbreviations is to save room on a sheet of paper. This can include directions to assemble something, a food recipe, lists, and many more. If possible words should be spelled out to reduce the chances of a reader getting lost. With lists of directions abbreviations allow a set of instructions to not be pages upon pages for one set of directions. Cooking is the easiest example that comes to mind when thinking about the utilization of abbreviations. Since units of measure like inch have common abbreviations like “in.” it is easy to limit the amount of room taken up by text. This is an important factor when attempting to print a set of text that need to meet specific spacing or character count standards.

Abbreviations are an important addition to the written language of english. The secrets surrounding abbreviation is finding the correct use cases for abbreviation and ensuring they make sense in the context of the written text. Eliminating ambiguity of abbreviations is critical in the formation of abbreviations. Knowing when to use abbreviations is also an art. When writing a novel abbreviations should be utilized at a minimum while with instructions abbreviations are a great tool to limit the character count of a set of instructions. Using more well known abbreviations like for units of measure is a good methodology since they are considered standard forms of abbreviations that the public has agreed upon.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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