Answered By: Rachel Willard
Last Updated: May 02, 2017     Views: 1099

APA requires that you spell out a full word or phrase directly before you introduce its abbreviation. This helps give clarity to your reader and show what your abbreviation is referring to. Then, you use the abbreviation every subsequent time you refer to that word in your work. 


Using Abbreviations

Introduce your abbreviation in parentheses the first time you use it. Then, simply use the abbreviation throughout the remainder of your work, including in your in-text and parenthetical citations. (Note that abbreviations are not used on the reference list.)

For example,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are often cited within papers. As a writing instructor, I find students often use the CDC as a source.


Overusing Abbreviations

Be careful not to overuse abbreviations; use them sparingly. Consider the following questions when choosing whether or not to use an abbreviation:

  • Do I use this word more than once or twice in the text?
  • Will this abbreviation aid my reader’s understanding?
  • How many other abbreviations have I already used?

Remember that each abbreviation requires your reader to remember what it means, so using multiple abbreviations may hinder your reader's understanding rather than helping it.


Other Abbreviations

APA also allows Latin abbreviations only within parenthetical material. (You can only use the abbreviations i.e., cf., e.g., etc., and so on within parentheses.)



Additional Resources:


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