Is it sometimes (or ever) acceptable to use in academic writing the abbreviation 'a.k.a.' ('also known as')?

  • 1
    I'd avoid it, but which academic field are you referring to? Conventions do vary. – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 1 '14 at 14:19
  • In one word: no. If you write it out in full, possibly. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Nov 1 '14 at 16:05
  • Depending on the context, consider using i.e. instead. – JJM Driessen Aug 18 '16 at 14:35

If you're using it "literally" (i.e. - to specify an alternative name used naturally by [at least some] other people for the thing you're talking about) then it should be fine in most formal contexts. Except where the alternative designation itself is inherently informal (e.g. G W Bush aka "Dubya"), where it's a matter of whether mentioning the alternative name is appropriate, rather than aka.

What's not okay in academic contexts is the informal use of aka to introduce an ad-hoc alternative term purely to describe/characterise something - such as, for example, Houston's new Astrodome, aka. the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The above link includes a single period after aka, which I would say is never "correct". But although there are twice as many written instances of "[Alcatraz] Island, also known as The Rock", if you check the abbreviated usage it seems to me most writers don't include periods.


Wikipedia Manual of Style, for one:

a.k.a. AKA Should only be used in small spaces. Otherwise use the full phrase. … Never use aka.



No. A.k.a. is formal enough for police reports and journalism that covers the "crime beat." It has a specialized meaning appropriate to public statements about criminal aliases.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy