Acronyms and initialisms are almost always capitalized, think:





Sometimes though acronyms are not capitalized. Even the license at the bottom of this page is written as:

cc by-sa 3.0

which contains a few acronyms but is not capitalized.

Is there a standard for acronym capitalization?


First of all, there is widespread confusion regarding what an acronym is. An acronym is a word. It is neither an abbreviation, nor merely a set of initials; it must be pronounceable as a word. Thus, 'BBC' and 'HTML' are not acronyms. 'ASAP' is pronounced by some people as a two-syllable word and is, therefore, an acronym -- even though other people spell it out as A - S - A - P.

Regarding capitalisation, it simply depends on the spelling conventions of the local language. The acronym for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is always written NATO in America but Nato in the UK; the pronunciation is the same in both places.

  • 1
    Welcome to ELU, please consider adding sources to support your answers.
    – JJJ
    Mar 22 '18 at 10:28
  • I don't think this is a very clear description of what "acronym" means. BBC and HTML are words, and have definite pronunciations /ˌbiˌbiˈsi/ and /ˌeɪtʃˌtiˌɛmˈɛl/. So they are "pronounceable" in one sense. They just don't have the same spelling-to-sound correspondences as other words. And while the distinction you refer to is familiar, I wonder about the validity of upholding it since the first OED quotation illustrating the use of the word "acronym" (from 1940) refers to "Pee-gee-enn".
    – herisson
    Mar 22 '18 at 17:15

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