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Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

(OP)
Is it acceptable to abbreviate terms in an engineering report? We are working on an addition to a community recreation center. Most everybody calls it the rec center when speaking.

How should it be referenced in the report? Is it the rec center or is it the recreation center?

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

I would consider it appropriate to write out "Recreation Center (Rec Center)" the initial time it is mentioned and proceed with "rec center" for the remainder of the report.

- Andrew

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

The rule we use is that acronyms, abbreviations, etc., should be clearly spelled out on first usage, and possibly again midway through the document, especially if it's non-obvious thing, or a common-looking acronym that has a totally different meaning; an example would be CIA when used in the context of Culinary Institute of America, although the context in the document ought to be enough. winky smile

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

That's the approach I use... short term identified by first use for reports. For drawings, I have a note for the use of abbreviations and for large projects, actually list them.
From my notes:

ABBREVIATIONS

THE DRAWING(S) CONTAIN COMMON ABBREVIATIONS. IT IS THE CONTRACTORS' RESPONSIBILITY TO CORRECTLY DETERMINE THE MEANING OF THE ABBREVIATION USED (CLARIFY WITH [OWNER | CONSULTANT | ENGINEER] AS REQ'D). WHERE MULTIPLE DEFINITIONS ARE GIVEN THE MEANING OF THE ABBREVIATION SHALL BE DETERMINED FROM THE CONTEXT OF THE USAGE[. THE FOLLOWING ARE COMMON ABBREVIATIONS THAT MAY BE USED IN THE DOCUMENTS]
...list of 100s...

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates

-Dik

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

We do an acronym list in an appendix, but that was reserved for official reports. I had the occasion to gin up a hacked VBA macro to find all the acronyms and abbreviations in the report for the appendix.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

TigerGuy,

This makes me glad I learned to type.

--
JHG

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

(OP)
I had a professor that would hand out a sheet every term about the differences between writing emails and reports. Texting and Twitter weren't around just yet.

As time has passed, I see more of those items in the reports I read and review. In conversation, we all call it the rec center, the gym, the pool, etc. However, I was taught to keep the language/terminology professional throughout the document (acronyms are acceptable after first reference).

And don't get us all started on there vs their vs they're, accept vs except, then vs than, affect vs effect, and so on.

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

I think you should have a section in your report for abbreviations. I think also writing it long hand on the first instance is a nice thing, but it'd be hard to find again without the section (if it's buried in the text). Whilst it can be annoying to see multiple instances if used frequently, the reader is still going to read "RC" as Recreation Center", so what are we really saving these days ?

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

Agreed with spelling it out up front in the executive summary. The other critical rule with naming is consistency. In your example you would only use the full "recreation center" and one acronym OR abbreviation, not a 3rd, 4th, or 5th naming convention for the sake of clarity. It may seem trivial or unnecessary to limit yourself, and may "sound" better to use nth different names, but the more names the greater risk of confusion and misinterpretation.

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

Spelling out first usage is a must, irrespective of whether you have an acronym list appendix or not. Using acronym lists, for me, is tied to the length of the report, but there's something to be said about the form of the report; a printed report might need an acronym list even if it's not particularly long, while an electronic format that supports a <CTRL>-F might tolerate a longer length before inclusion of an acronym list. In some unusual cases, such as page-limited proposals, an acronym list is an unaffordable luxury. Of course, someone need to be stuck with the job of hunting for the acronyms and adjudicating whether they need to be included in the acronym list or whether they're sufficiently commonplace to not need it.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

Don't forget that somebody has to be able to read your product as well.

I got a monster tome last year that we'd commissioned to check how well a document we've been relying on for years had stood the test of time. Wherever it referred to the original report (on average, more than once per paragraph), this review took a line and a half to spell out in full both the names of the authors and the complete title - making the argument completely impossible to follow.

A.

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

(OP)
Compared to some, I think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.

Internal discussions have resulted in spelling out in cover letter and first reference in the report.

Thanks for all the discussion

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

A cover letter is a bad idea... it should be in the report.

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates

-Dik

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

I find Wikipedia's editing guidelines to be a good resource when trying to decide things like this. They are typically easy to understand and have been discussed, reasoned, and carefully considered. Obviously, Wikipedia is not a formal, legal, and/or technical report, so take it for what it's worth.

In this case, they suggest:
When an abbreviation will be used in an article, first introduce it using the full expression:
an early local area network (LAN) developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) ... DEC's later LAN products were ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_...

-- SirPhobos

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

(OP)
dik & IRstuff,

Nothing should be in the cover letter (or executive summary) that is not included in the body of the report. Should also note that the PE stamp and signature are on the cover letter, which references the report. I typically do not stamp and sign the body of the report, that's on the cover letter.

RE: Abbreviated Language in Professional Reports

Quote (Nothing should be in the cover letter)


I agree... I said it was a bad idea!

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates

-Dik

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