During the paper writing, a question came up into my mind: can abbreviations be used in these articles?

There are at least 2 kinds of abbreviations, one is the so-called terminologies(or jargons?) which are too verbose for us to write all the alphabeta in the words every time. Though some of them have already been well-known in daily life(e.g., MP3, PDF), for others we are told to use the full name of the phrase and add the abbreviation in a parenthesis as its first occurrence and then use them in the following paragraphs.

The other group is about those abbreviations that are more commonly used in informal situations, such "a.k.a", "e.g.".

Though several of them have already been used in a number of papers, like "e.g.", "et al", "etc", "i.e.", most of the cases I hesitate to use them in the papers or other academic articles. Is it suggested not to use them? Here are a few that I can think of.

  • My instinct would be that abbreviations of English words are probably to be avoided. However I would allow the ones from Latin e.g. or i.e This is not based on anything other than my own personal prejudices however! Dec 21, 2014 at 16:08
  • All of the above may be and are used in academic papers. For details, consult the style sheet for the appropriate journal or society. Here, for instance, is the style sheet for papers submitted to Language, the official journal of the Linguistic Society of America. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:08
  • 1
    Note: Only one of the listed terms are abbreviations: aka (which doesn’t normally have periods). The rest are contractions, rather than abbreviations. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:32
  • 1
    Submit and see. That's what everybody else has to do. But many journals value clarity and readability much more highly than formal official prose style. Any journal that puts too much emphasis on style gets a reputation as beomg stuffy among young researchers, and they're the ones who write cool papers. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:33
  • 1
    I've seen a style guide saying use periods with eg e.g., a style guide saying don't use periods with eg eg, and a style guide saying don't use abbreviations like eg eg. So there's no 'absolute rule'; if the in-house regulations at your establishment demand one style, then that's the one to go with while you're doing their bidding. But don't feel constrained to stick with that style for life, and please don't brand other preferences 'incorrect' or 'inferior'. Dec 21, 2014 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


The only one of those I wouldn't use in an academic paper would be a.k.a. Everyone knows what it means, but I don't see it as part of an academic register (at least not in Britain).

All the others are perfectly acceptable shortened forms used in essay writing at the most formal level.

  • Agreed. I didn't see aka (which might appear heading a parenthetical remark about other terms that will be ignored henceforth). But no periods. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:11
  • My supervisor told me that it's better not to use word like don't,doesn't; I know people seldom use can't in articles, but for other words like mustn't I feel that it's more suitable for must not. Meanwhile, I have seen several top-tier conference paper in computer science using a.k.a. quite often. Weird for me; but I guess you are right. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:20
  • 2
    The view that contracted verb forms like can’t/shouldn’t/don’t/won’t, etc. should not be used outside informal writing is antiquated and increasingly rare. You can tell your supervisor (if you dare) that there really is no reason not to use them in academic articles, and that doing so is very common all over the English-speaking world. If he insists, do as he says: he is your supervisor and the one ultimately responsible for your grades, so there’s no reason to irk him over something so minor as this. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:31
  • @JanusBahsJacquet There is usually a good reason not to use contractions: the editor will not accept them. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:36
  • 1
    @painfulenglish I suppose it must be a field-specific thing, then. I have no experience with physics journals, but quite a lot with linguistic, philological, and arts-based ones (both from the writer’s and the editor’s perspective), where I’ve never come across it. Dec 21, 2014 at 16:44

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