John W. Enz, Fargo , Published December 16 2012
Letter: Be careful, consistent with acronym rulesMany times when I’ve been reading a Forum article, I suddenly encounter an acronym I’m not familiar with. When this happens, I usually scan the article looking for the name, title or organization that might relate to the acronym. Most of the time I find one that relates, but it always irritates me.
While reading an article entitled “UND drone program blazes trail” by Kevin Bonham, (Forum; Nov 22) I was frustrated because I couldn’t find what the University of North Dakota’s UAS actually represents. I guessed that it stands for “Unmanned Aircraft something, but what exactly? Shortly after, I started reading Brad Schlossman’s UND hockey story (Forum; Nov 22,). In the second column there’s a reference to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. So what in the world does that stand for? After scanning the beginning of the article, I finally found the answer in the accompanying box to the right of the article.
This prompted me to put both articles aside so I could eventually write this letter. What irritates me the most is that I was taught that when substituting an acronym for a name or organization, etc., the name of the entity should be written out in full the first time you use it, followed by its acronym in parentheses. After that the acronym can be used as often as necessary.
Is this rule or guideline suddenly obsolete? Or are your writers and proofreaders simply ignoring it? This has been extremely irritating to me for several years, and I assume many others feel the same way about it. Please consider having your reporters define their acronyms in their stories.
Thank you very much for your consideration.