Abbreviations, Acronyms and Brevity Codes

Write for your reader. Avoid alphabet soup. Never use abbreviations for Military Community and Family Policy program names unless otherwise noted in their data dictionaries. Spell out all other commonly abbreviated organizational names and terms on first reference. Thereafter, if a sentence can do without the associated abbreviation, acronym or brevity code, do not use one. For example: The Exceptional Family Member Program serves military families with special needs. The program ensures that a family member’s educational or medical needs receive consideration during the assignment coordination process.

  • Do not begin a sentence with an acronym or abbreviation, unless it is the second reference or later.
  • After you establish the abbreviation, acronym or brevity code by spelling it out, you can use the short form on subsequent instances. (Example: Use Spouse Education and Career Opportunities program the first time and then SECO afterward.) Interspersing “the program” or another similar identifying term in the copy is acceptable to avoid alphabet soup.
  • The commonly known abbreviations and acronyms that follow are acceptable upon first reference without introduction (although there may be occasions when fully writing out the terms would be preferable):
    • AAFES for Army and Air Force Exchange Service
    • CGX for Coast Guard Exchange
    • CONUS for continental United States
    • DEERS for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
    • DIMS for Defense Installation Messaging System (This acronym would appear only in documents and communications with installation DIMS managers.)
    • EFMP for Exceptional Family Member Program
    • JAG for judge advocate general
    • LES for Leave and Earnings Statement
    • MCX for Marine Corps Exchange
    • military ID instead of “military identification card”
    • MWR for Morale, Welfare and Recreation
    • NEX for Navy Exchange
    • OCONUS for outside the continental United States
    • PCS for permanent change of station
    • PT or PRT for physical training or physical readiness training
    • PTSD for post-traumatic stress disorder
    • PX for Post Exchange
    • Space-A for space-available flights or travel program
  • When writing a guide or publication that is broken into chapters or sections, spell out the abbreviation, acronym or brevity code on first use within each chapter.
  • When writing content for a website, reintroduce the abbreviation, acronym or brevity code on each page of content. If the reader is going to have to click through more than one screen, reintroduce it on each screen.
  • Abbreviations, acronyms and brevity codes disrupt readability. Avoid most uses when developing content for a PowerPoint presentation or eLearning module.
  • Spell out Department of Defense on first reference, then use DOD.
  • Refrain from including abbreviations, acronyms or brevity codes in headers, chapter titles, table of contents, etc.
  • Abbreviations, acronyms and brevity codes are acceptable in tables and charts only if space is an issue. Ideally, the term is spelled out prior to the table or chart if the abbreviation, acronym or brevity code appears in the table or chart.