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.
  • 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.