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Abbreviations List – Rules, Recommended Template & Example

Published by at January 3rd, 2023 , Revised On February 1, 2024

“The list of abbreviations in a thesis or a dissertation is an alphabetical list of abbreviations for the key terms used.” You may or may not need to create a list of abbreviations depending on your academic institute. If you need to add one, it should be positioned immediately after the table of contents.

The abbreviations list informs your audience about the abbreviations used in the thesis or dissertation, thereby improving readability and minimising confusion. It will be handy if your area of study is technical and uses jargon your readers might need to be more familiar with.

You don’t necessarily need to develop the list if you used only a few abbreviations in the thesis or dissertation. However, regardless of the number of abbreviations used, create a list if you feel the readers will be unfamiliar with them.

Rules for Abbreviations and Acronyms

Here is the list of rules when using abbreviations in a thesis or dissertation.

The use of acronyms is coming in academic writing. They are mad using the first letter of each word of the phrase. You must specify the complete phrase in parentheses right after the acronym the first time you use an acronym. Write the expression in full once, and then use the acronym throughout the rest of the text.


Example of the Use of Acronym in a Thesis or Dissertation

The Ministry of Commerce China (TMCC) provided the import data for August 2020 – December 2021. TMCC representatives shared the import statistics for all ports in China.

  • The same rule applies to all the researcher’s abbreviations in the paper. Provide the term in full the first time, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses.

Abbreviation Example in a Thesis or Dissertation

The research focused on business-to-business (B2B) trade. The B2B financial transactions data was also scrutinised in depth by Betty et al. (2021).

  • This rule may not apply to standard abbreviations such as NASA, FIFA, USA, or USA. You can use the common abbreviations without providing the full explanation right from the start.

Essays.uk also provides free template for the readers/students to get a comprehensive guide in their project.

Tip: There are several additional requirements for creating the list of abbreviations if you use the APA style. The rules provided in this article will apply to mainly the Harvard Referencing style.

Descriptive guides for APA referencing style: APA style table of contents, APA cite sources, APA 7th edition style guide.

Other Front Matter Pages you Should Know About

In addition to the list of abbreviations, you will need to create other lists, such as the list of figures, tables, and glossary, for the front matter of your thesis or dissertation.

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Frequently Asked Questions About the Abbreviations List

An acronym is formed using the first letter of each word of the phrase. An abbreviation is a shortened version of an existing word, such as Mr for Mister, Dr for Doctor and FIFA for the Federation Internationale de Football Association.

A list of abbreviations can be defined as a list containing all the abbreviations used in your thesis or dissertation. It comes right after the table of contents. The abbreviations list is a vital part of the thesis front matter.

If only a few abbreviations were used in the thesis or dissertation, you don’t necessarily need to create the list of abbreviations.

However, where numerous abbreviations were used with which most of the readers will be unfamiliar, it will be mandatory to add the list of abbreviations. There are many advantages of having an abbreviation list preceding the paper’s main text, such as improved readability and minimal confusion.

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