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An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word or phrase using any method. It may consist of a group of words or letters taken from the full version of the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can be represented by 

  • Abbr.
  • Abbrv.
  • Abbrev.

It may consist of just initials, a mixture of words and initials, or letters or words representing words in another language. Some types of abbreviations are acronyms, grammatical contractions, or crasis. 

In modern English, there are many conventions for abbreviations, and the choice can be confusing. The only rule that is universally accepted when it comes to abbreviations is that one should be consistent, and to make it easier, publishers express the preferences they have in the form of a style guide. 

  • If the original word is capitalized, the first letter of its abbreviation should also be so. 
  • When a word is abbreviated to more than one letter and was spelled with lower case letters, there is no need for capitalization.
  • When abbreviating a phrase where only the first letter of each word is taken, all letters should be capitalized. 

When it comes to periods, the rules vary too.

  • The traditional rule is that abbreviations terminate with a full stop, whereas contractions do not (with exceptions). 
  • Fowler’s Modern English Usage says stops are used to mark abbreviations as well as contractions, but simultaneously recommends against this practice. 

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