See UT English Style guide

Abbreviations, Acronyms and Initialisms


Abbreviations should help the reader. They should be easily understood; they should not be used needlessly. If an abbreviation occurs only once or twice, it is best to dispense with it altogether and use the full form. 


  • Shortened form of words used to represent the whole
  • EXAMPLE: Prof.
  • They have full stops


  • Words formed from the first (few) letters of a series of words and are pronounced as words
  • EXAMPLE:  ATLAS  NATO  Benelux  
  • They never have full stops


  • Words formed from the initial letters of a series of words, that must be pronounced as letters
  • EXAMPLE:   Programme Specific Appendix (PSA)
  • They never have full stops


  • When using the initialism 'UT' to refer to the University of Twente, note that convention and common usage dictate that initialisms for universities and colleges do not take a definite article 'the'
  • EXAMPLE: We will be attending a conference at UCL, UTokyo, MIT, UCLA, UCM (Madrid)
  • EXAMPLE: We at UT believe that ... 
  • AVOID: we at the UT believe ... 


  • Omit the middle of a word
  • EXAMPLE:  Mr Dr Ltd
  • In British English, they never have full stops


  • Omit the end of a word
  • EXAMPLE:  vol., co., etc., e.g.
  • In British English, they end with a full stop

Using Abbreviations and Acronyms

  • When using an abbreviation or acronym that may not be familiar to readers, write out the full term followed by the abbreviation in brackets when the term first occurs in the text
  • EXAMPLE: The Academy of Technology and Liberal Arts & Sciences (ATLAS)
  • Degree titles take the following form: BSc, MSc, PhD 

Abbreviations that do not originate from English 

  • Use the official acronym or abbreviation, even if not English
  • Add an explanation about the use of a non-English acronym, if required
  • EXAMPLE: Bindend Studie Advies (BSA), that is, the official decision to allow a student to continue studies beyond the first year, …
  • Abbreviations that do not originate from English should not be given a new and improvised acronym in English.
  • EXAMPLE: the Dutch acronym EWI refers to the Faculteit Electrotechniek, Wiskunde en Informatica.
  • The English translation of the full term should be spelt out in its full form, followed by the Dutch acronym in brackets.  
  • EXAMPLE:  The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EWI).  

If, after repeated use of the full English description followed by the Dutch acronym, the Dutch acronym becomes clear for your reader, then use your judgement and consider using the standalone Dutch acronym. Clarity first.


When referring to the abbreviated terms for the various stages of the Dutch educational system, we recommend you use the following formatting, in terms of abbreviations, supporting definitions, use of italics, and capitalisation: 

  • EXAMPLES (higher education): 

        There are two types of higher education in the Netherlands: research-oriented and profession-oriented:

        Research-oriented education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO) is traditionally offered by research universities.

        Higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO) is offered by universities of applied sciences (hogescholen).

  • EXAMPLES (secondary education):

       Senior general secondary education (HAVO) and pre university education (VWO)

       HAVO and VWO prepare pupils for higher professional education (HBO) and university studies, respectively.  

Indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’ before acronyms

  • The general rule for indefinite articles is to use ‘a’ before consonants and ‘an’ before vowels. However, when referring to acronyms, use your ears (how the acronym is pronounced), not your eyes (how it is spelt).
  • EXAMPLE: HIV (pronounced "aitch eye vee") begins with a vowel sound, so an HIV patient is correct.

Ampersands (&)

  • Always use the word ‘and’ unless & is part of the official name
  • EXAMPLE: bread and butter  
  • AVOIDbread & butter
  • EXAMPLE: Marketing & Communications (M&C) - the official name


The following example/recommendation is provided in response to a direct question from a user of this style guide. The question was about how to abbreviate, capitalise, spell and hyphenate (or not) the following term: 

  • RECOMMENDATION: Programme Specific Appendix (PSA) - three separate words, all capitalised, no hyphens necessary, abbreviated using capitalisation and no hyphens. 

The official 'Abbreviation list' for UT is available online: 

Reference List

European Commission English Style Guide - A handbook for authors and translators in the European Commission Eighth edition: January 2016 Last updated: May 2018 "[PDF File]" Retrieved from

University of Oxford Style Guide. "[PDF File]" Retrieved from

 Ontario Training NETWORK. Grammar Tip – The With Acronyms and Initialisms. Retrieved from

NUFFIC De Nederlandse organisatie voor internationalisering in onderwijs. Retrieved from