Acronyms and abbreviations

General rules

Only use abbreviations or acronyms (abbreviations pronounced as words) that your readers would immediately recognize without clarification.


CBC, NATO, SFU, Nabisco, radar, scuba


For unfamiliar abbreviations, spell out the full name first, followed in brackets by the abbreviation. Use the abbreviation alone for later references. Avoid “alphabet soup.” Find other ways of identifying your subjects instead of repeatedly using acronyms.


The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is a federal funding agency. NSERC supports post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their studies. The agency promotes discovery and fosters innovation.


All-cap abbreviations don’t take periods unless the abbreviation refers to a geographic place name, person or is a single letter.


MBA, RAM, URL, B.C., W.A.C. Bennett, E. (for east)


Lowercase and mixed abbreviations usually take periods, with the exception of SFU academic degrees.


Mrs., Jr., lb., m.p.g., a.m., p.m., BSc


Mixed abbreviations beginning and ending with a capital letter do not take periods.


U of A, PoW


Metric symbols take periods only at the end of a sentence:


mm, cm, m, km, km/h, g, t, mL, ha, kPa


Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Faculty, Beedie School of Business (BUS) - Use Beedie on second reference
Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (FCAT)
Faculty of Education (EDUC)
Faculty of Environment (FENV)
Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS)
Faculty of Science (SCI)


Office for Aboriginal Peoples (OAP)
Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA)
Office of Research Ethics (ORE)
Innovation Office (IO)


School of Communication
School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA)
School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT)
School of Resource and Environmental Management (SREM) (This is a new change)

*Most schools use their field of study for short, i.e., SFU Communication, SFU Contemporary Arts.

Provinces, territories and American states

Spell out Canadian provinces and territories and American state names standing alone.

Use periods in abbreviated geographical place names. Eg. B.C., U.S.A.

Yukon and Nunavut are not abbreviated.

Use CP style abbreviations when used with city names in text. Use postal abbreviations only in addresses, not in text.