Petty, petty, petty

Acronyms move me to an unholy rage. Science writing is lousy with them. And who wants to write out adenosine 5′-triphosphate when you can write ATP instead?

One of the copyeditor’s jobs is to make sure all acronyms are spelled out on first use. Sounds easy, right? Hell no. Especially when your author spells out her acronyms in the figure captions, which are near the end of the paper.

I’ve read the whole thing wondering what MAP stands for so I know how to punctuate around it, I’ve spent ten minutes searching Google and the Journal’s archives and come up with nada, and I’ve written out a query for the author to expand MAP only to find the goddamned expansion at the end of the paper. Thanks, author.

Is it such a difficult concept to add the expansion to the acronym the first time it is used? And, yes, I’m a little testy, but I’ve spent my whole day changing “While” to “Although”. Wouldn’t you?

[Clarification: “While” should be used to indicate time only. On second thought, that rule is more rigorously applied in technical/scientific writing than creative writing.]

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8 responses to “Petty, petty, petty

  1. I hate hate hate when authors don’t define acronyms (do NOT get me started on trial acronyms). To save myself that finding-it-in-the-legend headache, I always search the manuscript file for the acronym to see if a definition is lurking in a hidden corner (like a table footnote). Anything to save myself an unnecessary Google search.

    • One has to weigh the unnecessary Google search with the pain-in-the-ass Ctr + F search that might make me lose my place and/or forget what the hell I was doing. Every day is a struggle. 🙂

      Oh God, don’t get me started on table footnotes.

  2. Hey sis. Before you throw the first stone make sure you don’t live in a glass house. If you’re gonna dis’ the scientists ’cause they say ATP, then you’ve got to be careful about discussing your MFA on the PW (see yesterday’s post). You’re just antsy ’cause you didn’t take 9th grade biology, or you’d understand why a (very) simple acronym might slip in despite the scientist’s best intentions. Forgive her!

    BW (best wishes),

    cougar

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