Answered By: Sarah Purcell
Last Updated: Aug 07, 2017     Views: 178

It is sometimes acceptable to use acronyms in academic writing. Acronyms are often used for the names of organisations, initiatives or models. Examples include:

  • DfE (Department for Education)
  • DoH (Department of Health)
  • SMART (in relation to goal setting)
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)

In academic writing, it is good practice to include the full name or an organisation and the acronym in brackets the first time you use it. If you need to use the name again, you can just use the acronym. Your reader must be able to understand who or what you are referring to. The full name and acronym can also be included in your reference list. 

That said, some acronyms are well-known in certain fields, or are practically common knowledge (e.g. BBC), so you may not need to spell them out at all and just use the acronym. Think about your intended audience - will they know what the acronym stands for? Sometimes you are able to include a list of acronyms at the start of your work or dissertation, much like a list of figures or tables - ask your tutor for more information.