Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Initialisms

Abbreviations

An abbreviation is a short form of a word or phrase that is used to represent the whole term. For example, etc. for etcetera, Sat for Saturday, Dec for December, Sonar for Sound Navigation and Ranging, UK for United Kingdom, etc. Abbreviations can be of many types; the most common ones are Acronyms and Initialisms.

Acronyms

An acronym is formed from beginning letters, syllables or parts of a word or phrase. It forms a new word and is usually, but not always, in all capital letters. An important point to remember is that acronyms are pronounced as words. It is a subset of abbreviation, i.e., all acronyms are abbreviations, but the reverse is not true.

Examples:

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)abbreviation

Scuba (Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus)

Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging)

OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay)

RAM (Random Access Memory)

LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation)

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization)

 

Initialisms

An initialism is another type of abbreviation that is made up of the initial letters of the name or phrase. It is different from an acronym as the former is pronounced one letter at a time, i.e., each letter is read separately, and not as a word.

Examples:

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation),

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)

HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language)

IBM (International Business Machines)

DVD (Digital video disc)

BTW (By the way)

UN (United Nations)

USA (United States of America)

CD (Compact Disc)

Audience Analysis

Every act of writing takes place in a new context, with a unique time, place or reader to take into account. Audience adaptation refers to the skill of arranging words, organizing your thoughts, and formatting your document to best achieve your desired effect on your target audience. Audience dynamics refers to the relationship that writers form with their readers through their style, and through the amount and structure of information they provide. The audience dynamics are effective when the readers get a sense of satisfaction that the questions raised in the text were relevant to their interests and the answers or solutions provided were convincing. In contrast, audience dynamics are ineffective when the readers feel frustrated or offended because the writer’s tone is condescending, the answers or solutions provided are simplistic in relation to the complexity of the questions, or the argument is emotive and based on generalization. To maximise your ability to achieve effective audience dynamics, assess the readers’ needs, knowledge and interest by conducting an audience analysis before writing. Audience analysis is an integral part of your research.

During the Lecture

  • Listen carefully to the introduction. By knowing this outline, you will be better prepared to anticipate what notes you will need to take. Decipher this outline by listening for: A topic for each section and supporting points or examples for the topic.
  • Copy what’s written on the whiteboard, or overhead projector, especially the outline. To make sure that you get everything, get in the habit of skipping words like “the” and “a” and make use of shorthand and abbreviations. Summarize your notes in your own words, not the instructor’s. Remember: your goal is to understand what the professor is saying, not to try to record exactly everything he or she says.
  • Recognize main ideas by signal words that indicate something important is to follow. See the tip on signals below.
  • Jot down details or examples that support the main ideas. Take down examples and sketches which the lecturer presents. Indicate examples with “e.g.” Give special attention to details not covered in the textbook.
  • Come up with symbols for words used often that you can remember easily.
  • Take detailed notes if possible.
  • Draw diagrams for concepts you can’t remember easily or don’t understand.
  • If there is a summary at the end of the lecture, pay close attention to it. You can use it to check the organization of your notes. If your notes seem disorganized, copy down the main points that are covered in the summary. It will help in revising your notes later.

Note taking Strategies

Here are some tips for effective note taking strategies:

  • Summarize your notes in your own words, not the instructor’s. Remember: your goal is to understand what the professor is saying, not to try to record, exactly, everything he or she says.
  • Mark ideas which the lecturer emphasizes with an arrow or some special symbol.
  • When the teacher looks at his/her notes, pay attention to what they say next.
  • Make your notes your notes. Take advantage of how you learn (visually, orally, or actively) and write/draw your notes according to that style.
  • Consider splitting your notes into two columns keep lecture notes on one side, and write questions that come up during the lecture on the other side. This will ensure that you don’t forget any unclear points or questions that come up during the lecture, and will enable you to associate the answer with the relevant material when you find it later. Also, if you go to office hours, your professor will notice that you were paying attention in class, which will pay off in the long run.
  • Copy what’s written on the blackboard and transparencies, especially the outline. To make sure that you get everything, get in the habit of skipping words like “the” and “a” and make use of shorthand and abbreviations.

Charts and Graphs

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is certainly true when you’re presenting and explaining data. You can provide tables setting out the figures, and you can talk about numbers, percentages, and relationships forever. However, the chances are that your point will be lost if you rely on these alone. Put up a graph or a chart, and suddenly everything you’re saying makes sense!

Graphs or charts help people understand data quickly. Whether you want to make a comparison, show a relationship, or highlight a trend, they help your audience “see” what you are talking about.

Written Communication

With written communication, make sure that what you write will be perceived the way you intend. Words on a page generally have no emotion they don’t “smile” or “frown” at you while you’re reading them (unless you’re a very talented writer, of course!)

When writing, take time to do the following:

  • Review your style.
  • Avoid jargon or slang.
  • Check your grammar and punctuation.
  • Check also for tone, attitude, nuance, and other subtleties. If you think the message may be misunderstood, it probably will. Take the time to clarify it!

Familiarize yourself with the basic writing policies.

Tips for taking good class notes

  • Summarize your notes in your own words, not the instructors. Remember: your goal is to understand what the professor is saying, not to try to record, exactly, everything he or she says.
  • Mark ideas which the lecturer emphasizes with an arrow or some special symbol.
  • When the teacher looks at his/her notes, pay attention to what they say next.
  • Make your notes your notes. Take advantage of how you learn (visually, orally, or actively) and write/draw your notes according to that style.
  • Consider splitting your notes into two columns keep lecture notes on one side, and write questions that come up during the lecture on the other side. This will ensure that you don’t forget any unclear points or questions that come up during the lecture, and will enable you to associate the answer with the relevant material when you find it later. Also, if you go to office hours, your professor will notice that you were paying attention in class, which will pay off in the long run.
  • Copy what’s written on the blackboard and transparencies, especially the outline. To make sure that you get everything, get in the habit of skipping words like the and a and make use of shorthand and abbreviations.

Editing for content

  • Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how when reading for content. Does the text answer all the questions you think it should?
  • Highlight the sentences that best answer these questions, just so you can see if the facts flow in logical order.
  • Do the math, do the math, and then do the math again. Somewhere between the screen and the printer 2+2 often becomes 3.
  • Make a list of “bugaboo” words and do a search for them before final proof. Include every swear word, words related to product terminology, and other words that pop up on occasion. Then do a “find” for all these words.
  • Actually do every step in procedures to make sure they are complete, accurate, and in correct order.
  • Count the number of steps a list promises to make sure they are all there.
  • Check that figure numbers match their references in the text and are sequential.

Check that illustrations, pictographs, and models are right-side up.

Get opinions

It can be hard to critique your own work, may be a story or poetry, so after you’ve done an initial edit, try to get some friends or an editor group (there are plenty online) to look at your writing for you. You may not like all their suggestions, and you don’t have to take any of them, but you might find some insight that will make your writing better. Feedback is good. Pass your writing around, and ask your friends to critique your work. Tell them to be honest, even if it’s painful. Filter their responses, heeding and ignoring, then edit as you see fit.

How to Improve Your Reading Skills

Here are some steps to help you improve your reading skills:

1.  Evaluate your reading habits to find out where you need improvement. Do you “say” the words you’re reading? Do strange words slow your speed and comprehension? Do you read every word? Do you re-read sentences? Do you vary your speed to suit the material?

2.  Provide the best conditions for reading. Choose a place where you’ll have few interruptions, have good lighting, can sit in a good chair, and won’t be distracted by radio, TV or other noises. Hold the book about fifteen inches away (about the distance from your elbow to your wrist).

3.  Use your eyes efficiently. If words are blurry, get your eyes checked by a professional. Don’t “say” what you read, and don’t re-read unnecessarily. Read phrases, not every single word.

4.  Increase your vocabulary by keeping a dictionary handy, maintaining a list of new words, and knowing the origin of words.

5.  Match your speed to the material you are reading. Know what and why you’re reading. Preview the material, especially when studying. Study reading requires closer, slower reading. For leisure reading you can go faster. Be sure you get the information in graphic aids and illustrations.

6.  To improve your reading speed, practice for about 15 to 30 minutes each day, checking your rate in words-per-minute. Check your comprehension by summarizing what you read. Ideally, you want to read faster while maintaining your understanding. Therefore, use the same type of materials each time you practice to provide the consistency needed for meaningful practice.