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Contractions and abbreviations

Contractions

Contractions (eg shouldn’t, isn’t, there’s, haven’t) should be avoided in formal academic writing. Use the full forms (eg should not, is not, there is, have not).

For example, avoid the kind of contraction in the sentence below:

Example: There’s no substitute for the individual tutorial. Its function is not to instruct: it’s to set the student the task of expressing his thought articulately and then to assist him in subjecting his creation to critical examination. It’s a great pity that many students don’t experience this.

This is not acceptable in academic style. You should write:

Example: There is no substitute for the individual tutorial. Its function is not to instruct: it is to set the student the task of expressing his thought articulately and then to assist him in subjecting his creation to critical examination. It is a great pity that many students do not experience this.

Abbreviations

Abbreviations, unless they are widely known (eg UK, US) should be explained the first time they are used. Write the words in full and put the abbreviation after this in brackets.

Example: The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds research and postgraduate study within UK higher education institutions. AHRC supports research within a huge subject domain from traditional humanities subjects to creative and performing arts.

Note that it is only necessary to write the full form the first time the term is introduced. For each subsequent use, it is sufficient to use the abbreviation. However, you should not abbreviate a phrase which is only used a few times in your writing.