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How should I list an abbreviation that has two different expansions? Eg: LD - Leadership Development, LD - Liquidity Damage. I have quite a few of these and I need to list them in a glossary. Thanks.

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Why not a superscript numeral after each? –  bib Oct 8 '13 at 3:39
Hi bib, thats a nice idea, thanks :) I want to know if this is the standard for listing such abbreviations? –  Akil Oct 8 '13 at 6:40
I doubt that there is a 'standard' method. It's just a matter of chosen style. Alternatively, you could list both meanings (separated by a comma) as a single entry. Only you can judge what seems best for your purposes. Try looking at some online glossaries to see what others have done. –  TrevorD Oct 8 '13 at 10:33
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3 Answers

I'm not aware of any single, generally accepted way of handling the issue you raise. The two most influential U.S. style guides—The Chicago Manual of Style and Words Into Type—spend very little time on glossaries and don't discuss duplicate abbreviations at all. The clearest approach, I think, is to list all of the alternative meanings in a single entry for a specific abbreviation (but with different entries for uppercase, lowercase, and uniquely punctuated abbreviations), numbering each meaning within a single entry separately. This is the approach that Merriam-Webster's takes, for example, in laying out the different meanings of av, AV, and A/V:

av abbr 1 avenue 2 average 3 avoirdupois

AV abbr 1 ad valorem 2 audiovisual 3 Authorized Version

A/V abbr audio/video

The benefit of this approach is that readers are less likely to see one AV entry (the one for ad valorem, say) and not notice that the glossary also covers other AV abbreviations with very different meanings. By numbering the disparate meanings within a single entry, you train readers to check all of the numbered subentries within a single entry.

Furthermore, in instances where slightly different abbreviations (like av or A/V) may also exist, you compress the presentation sufficiently to make it harder for the reader to overlook those similar abbreviations. This visual compression is especially helpful in a glossary, where the reader is searching for an abbreviation encountered elsewhere in the book and may not remember whether the "AV" mentioned there had a slash between the A and the V—or even whether AV was capitalized.

If you include definitions of all of the spelled-out forms of the abbreviations in your glossary, you can dispense with the numbering and simply provide cross references to the various spelled-out terms. (In any case, I don't think that identifying the abbreviations as abbreviations—as Webster's does with abbr—is necessary in a glossary.) For example:

AV See Ad valorem; Audiovisual; Authorized Version.

A/V See Audio/video.

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The list of abbreviations in the OED shows that they are simply listed without differentiation. I like the notion of a numerical superscript better.

Alternatively use the second letter in the first word i.e. Le.D. for Leadership Development, Li.D for Liquidity Damage. If the second letters match then add the third letter and so on. That's a bit messier than a superscript.

You could also do your own abbreviations like: Ldrshp. Dev. / Liq. Dmg.

See also this acronym listing for a similar listing to that of OEDs.

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Since your acronyms arise from different fields (i.e. Human relations and some other field), you could do as the Egyptians did and put some sort of determinative after each entry; LD- Leadership Development (Human Relations) and LD- Liquidity Damage (Finance).

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