English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Are there any tools that would help with comprehension of technical documents that contain a mix of domain specific and company specific acronyms and jargon?

A tool that is functionally similar to the automatic acronym expansion done by Wikileaks in their Afgan War Diary (as seen at but ideally supports PDF or Microsoft Word documents. The list of acronyms and jargon and their expanded text could be provided in a separate file.

share|improve this question
That web page is awfully shouty. – billynomates Feb 4 '11 at 16:28

I have two ideas that might possible help, though I don't think they will be perfect. Both only work for Word.

  1. You could try the Abbreviation Management Package: http://www.pcfone.com/en/abbreviation-management-software.html It is a plug-in for Word that seems to do what you want (I haven't tested it yet). It is not free, though: it costs $75. It has a trial version so you can see whether you like it. I have run it through virustotal.com and it appears to have no virus.

  2. You could use footnotes in Word. When you hover over a footnote in Word, you see in a pop-up the text in the footnote: you can use this to display the meaning of an acronym. You need to create a footnote for an acronym, then automatically find & replace all instances of the acronym by acronym + footnote. You need to do this every time for each different acronym. It is not difficult to do, but it takes some time if you have many different acronyms. If you want to do this but can't get it to work, ask here. In order to do the process of creation and find-&-replace automatically based on a file with a list, you'd need to write a macro in Autohotkey or something. But that'd be some work.

If all you want to do is fill in all acronyms in a Word document once without the ability to expand/collapse (or pop-up), you could simply find & replace all the acronyms with their full meanings. I think it would be somewhat easier to write an Autohotkey script to do this automatically based on a list in a file. I am sure there will be people on the AHK forum willing to explain how this works and help you with the script.

Incidentally, I think this question rather belongs on Superuser.

share|improve this answer

I would use autohotkey ( http://autohotkey.com ) or texter ( http://lifehacker.com/software/texter/lifehacker-code-texter-windows-238306.php ).

Texter is just a Autohotkey script, however it provides a GUI making it easy to add/remove abbreviations and acronyms.

The advantage of using these programs is they will work in almost any software. :)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.