Last changed: 11 July 2023

The grammar police are here to help! Get writing tips for English and Swedish in our regular language column.

An acronym is an abbreviation from the initial components in a name or phrase. For English, some style guides recommend all caps for acronyms, while some use caps for acronyms shorter than three letters (or four, or five!).

In the SLU style guide, we follow the recommendation in the BBC style guide – case is determined by pronunciation, the same rule as for Swedish. Too many capitals can affect readability, and this rule keeps them to a minimum.

An acronym can either be pronounced as the individual letters or as a word. If it is pronounced as the individual letters, use all caps: SLU, EU, UN.

If an acronym is pronounced as a word, use lowercase: laser, radar, pin. For proper names, use initial caps: Saco, Bir, Nex.

The only cases where you mix uppercase and lowercase is for certain units and proper names: pH, kWh, Pa. Avoid coining new acronyms like this.

Do not use full points in acronyms. Always explain an acronym by putting either the acronym or the full phrase in brackets at first mention: SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) OR the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Published March 2017.