# Acronyms in titles

Guideline At the first reference, names are spelled out completely, unless an acronym is the primary method of referring to the subject.
Examples Examples:
• Illinois State University, not ISU
• SCUBA, not self contained underwater breathing aparatus
Guideline Among divisions of the subject, an acronym may be used to differentiate between two categories that would otherwise have the same name
Examples Example:
• ISU English department
Category:Indiana State University → Category:ISU English department
Category:Indiana State University images
Category:Images → Category:Indiana State University images

This model also illustrates that if a sub-category is also the first instance of the subject in another branch of the category tree, it should still be spelled out, as in the images category.

## Discussion

Spelling out little-known acronyms the first time makes projects more accessible to readers, getting projects more reads. See the very detailed guidelines on acronyms at Wikipedia's article on the subject. --Jesse Groppi 03:21, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

### Wayne's thoughts on related acronym guidelines

Hi Jesse, I agree with the guideline of spelling out acronyms the first time they're used on a page, or book which may comprise multiple sub-pages where the acronym is used in subsequent sections or chapters. In the case of a book -- the first instance should be spelled out. This example raises a few interesting process related issues for us. A guideline on Acronyms is a "cross-cutting" guideline that may apply to multiple use cases, eg. titles of pages, titles (as in headings or subheadings of a page), acronyms in the text, acronyms in categories etc. So do we have one generic guideline on acronyms which covers multiple use cases. Or do we have a separate guideline for each use case, eg. Acronyms in titles of pages, Acronyms in headings etc. Also, with regard to the suggested conventions for names of pages -- we'll need to think about the unique challenges which WE must deal with because we're developing a range of different types of educational materials (e.g courses, handouts, books, learning activities etc.) In the case of an encyclopaedia -- there will only be one entry for Apples. However, in WE we may have a variety of pages relating to Apples, for instance. A grade 4 lesson on Apples used for language teaching, A grade 7 lesson on Apples used in a biology lesson etc. Not sure how we will deal with this in terms of structuring our guidelines -- but we'll need to think about these challenges. One thought is to have the generic guideline and then suggestions for exceptions. --Wayne Mackintosh 05:03, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
Wayne, I agree that different guidelines will be needed to apply to headings, in page references, and titles. I've started this page as a proposal for guidelines involving the titles of pages. Would you like to start off proposals for headings and in page references, or any other you can think of? --Jesse Groppi 14:30, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Hi Jesse --- more than happy to start a proposal for regarding acronyms in titles for page headings or other areas where this guideline may apply. That said I think we have an opportunity to think creatively around the power of hyper-linking and the flat structure of the wiki. In cases of "cross-cutting" guidelines like acronyms -- we could have one page that deals with multiple use case scenarios --- saves effort while promoting adoption of the principle across multiple scenarios. Thoughts? --Wayne Mackintosh 08:54, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
So, if I've got this right, you'd like to have all the Acronym guidelines in the same page, but linked to multiple times, by different names? One link would say "Acronyms in titles" another would say "Acronyms in page content"?
Also, I'm still unsure of how a wiki could be seen as "flat", so when you use the term, I generally don't know what you're getting at. :P I can see taking advantage of a wiki's structure, but I don't understand what you mean by "getting around" it. --Jesse Groppi 14:20, 21 July 2009 (UTC)
Thinking out loud -- What I'm suggesting is that we have a generic guideline for, eg the Use of Acronyms. It has a general section describing the rational / motivation of the guideline -- that is where possible avoid the use of acronyms in the first instance because ..... Then we subheadings on the different use cases. Acronyms in page titles, acronyms in headings / subheadings, acronyms in the text etc. It would be easy enough to cross reference guidlines by targeting, for example Acronyms#Acronoyms in page titles. I suspect there may be other cross-cutting style guidelines like Capitalisation, eg Capitalisation of page titles, capitalisation of headings and subheadings etc. This is more a thought about organisation of our style guidelines. --Wayne Mackintosh 02:10, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Right. That makes a lot of sense, and I think that should be one of the design goals for the guidelines themselves. --Jesse Groppi 14:42, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

I'd like to start the page content guidelines, but I'm beginning to wonder that the proposal page may get very large, and I'm also wondering that the approval process for such a comprehensive document may be confusing. I don't mind approving more than one at a time, but approving four at a time on two different use types, well that sounds like trouble. I would like the guide to have a separate page on acronyms, similar to the style guide at Wikipedia, but I think for proposal purposes, it may be better to keep it in still a relatively small number, but multiple pages. At least Acronyms in titles and Acronyms in content? --Jesse Groppi 15:44, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

### John's thoughts

Some thoughts: Should we also include in the guideline that if an acronym is used it should be put in parathesis after it as been spelled out the first time (for example, Indiana State University (ISU))?--John Stampe 10:53 23 July 2009 (UTC)

I completely agree with that. That's a typical style guideline in wikis and in manuals of style such as the Associated Press. --Jesse Groppi 15:44, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I would have a slight problem with your category example. Using ISU English department may be confusing (I graduated from another ISU - Iowa State University). Yes, it would be clear from the top category, but not when used by itself (for example on a page linked to the category). --John Stampe 10:53 23 July 2009 (UTC)

That's the sort of issue I've seen dealt with by disambiguation. We would need to determine a style for that: terms in parenthesis? disambiguation pages? --Jesse Groppi 15:44, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Two oddball acronym types come up: recursive acronyms (GNU) and backwards acronyms (PHP). I think they would come under the "primary method" criteria, but I am not sure. --John Stampe 10:53 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Not sure how those types would be unique to the guideline. I would consider both of those acronyms SCUBA exceptions. --Jesse Groppi 15:44, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

### Peter's thoughts

Great discussion and very valid points. I'm wondering where we go with, what we have is good enough so we can get the guidelines to approved and then let their actual use fine tune them through community and their part of the featured works review. -- Peter Rawsthorne 14:53, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

That's the goal, Peter. We're currently working on an approval process, and that does need to go through the council, so we need to have a draft prepared before 7 Sept. Here is where we're talking about it; what's your input? --Jesse Groppi 15:44, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

### Nellie's Thoughts

Frankly speaking, I am hooked on APA style, so I would go with spell it out the first time with brackets added and then use the acronym or initials. I would go with John's suggestions.--Nellie Deutsch 08:25, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

See the discussion about APA style and others at Capitals in titles. --Jesse Groppi 17:25, 30 August 2009 (UTC)