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Should MSDS be pluralized with an s? My initial reaction is to say No, because MSDS indicates it could be plural or singular — it stands for “Material Safety Data Sheets”.

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Several acronyms do take a small-case "s" at the end, such as in this case (see Susan's answer). –  user67665 Mar 3 '14 at 20:46
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As far as I can see, MSDS stands for "Material Safety Data Sheet", singular. –  David Richerby Mar 3 '14 at 23:28

3 Answers 3

No less than OSHA uses MSDSs. MSDS's last S is Sheet.

Recommended Format for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).

This is also how we refer to them in the Emergency Department. Also:

Free access to more than 4.5 million MSDSs available online, brought to you by 3E - msds.com

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There are many examples of both forms used by authoritative bodies globally, but this is my preference, and gets my +1. There are actually examples on the OSHA website of MSDSs, MSDS and even MSDS's for plural MSDS. In any case, it is most certainly NOT MSDS sheets. Note that as we move towards the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), the MSDS will be redundant, and will be replaced by the Safety Data Sheet SDS. Global compliance is expected by 2016. Note that the UN specify the plural of SDS to be SDS, although the OSHA use predominantly SDSs. –  long Mar 3 '14 at 21:15
    
I've puzzled over the first five words there for a good minute or more. They just don't sit well with me, but I can't say exactly why, and I can't think of an indisputably better way to phrase it. I know I'm partly rattled by "uses" (in BrE we'd almost certainly use the plural verb use in such contexts), and presumably "that" is just a typo for "than", but I'm sure they're just more straws on the camel's already overloaded back. What would you say to "No less than OSHA use/uses..." ? –  FumbleFingers Mar 3 '14 at 22:03
    
Ah, thanks. I'm tired, and mixing things up, plus a typo. None other than/no less than. mumble mumble –  medica Mar 3 '14 at 22:48

If it is always used to mean sheets, plural, then I would not pluralize it again. If it normally stands for sheet, then I would pluralize it, in the same way I would pluralize STD's, SAM's, NGO's, etc.

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Aside from that you're pluralizing wrong: you should not use the apostrophe, as you're not using the perms possessively. –  CajunLuke Mar 4 '14 at 1:00
    
@CajunLuke apostrophe is also recommended here grammar-monster.com/lessons/abbreviations_forming_plurals.htm –  user13107 Mar 4 '14 at 1:14
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@CajunLuke I wasn't too sure, so I did look it up before writing up my answer. It seems that even though its not possessive, the apostrophe is used. I guess it makes it clear that the plural-s is not part of the original abbriviation or acronym. –  oerkelens Mar 4 '14 at 6:43

My instinct would be to write MSDSes, following the general principle of attempting to handle initialisms (in which the letters are pronounced) according to their pronunciation, not their written appearance (as with "an MSDS", not "a MSDS").

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