To my understanding it's an acronym for "Not Applicable", but I've noticed it written the following ways:





Is there a standard? What do different style guides say? Why have I never seen it written "N.A"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, Elian, choster, Chenmunka, JEL Oct 22 '15 at 5:27

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  • n/a is the usual abbreviation for not applicable - at least that is the case in Britain. – WS2 Oct 19 '15 at 21:03

I would venture to assume that N.A isn't a static abbreviation, so a slash would make more sense to use - to some. However, I do not think there is a set standard for its use in the English language, perhaps in different writing styles. I know in Britain it's often the case that a slash is more likely to be used for abbreviations. In short: I think it's a matter of situational convention, as to how it can be written.


In general in Britain N/A is used more often than NA or N.A., and never (at least properly) in lower case.

Note that N/A is ambiguous and may mean (depending on context):

  • Not Applicable
  • Not Available
  • +1 This ambiguity between "not applicable" and "not available" means that publishers often include an interpretive note when N/A or n/a (or some other form of the abbreviation) appears in a table, along the lines of "n/a = not available." But the need to include a spelled-out version of the abbreviation considerably lessens the need to handle N/A, n/a, or whatever systematically across multiple publications. If you're identifying what the abbreviation stands for anyway, all the more reason to feel free to choose whichever punctuation and capitalization of the abbreviation suits your fancy. – Sven Yargs Oct 20 '15 at 2:17

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