Re: Spelling out acronyms at first mention

Subject: Re: Spelling out acronyms at first mention
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: Gilda_Spitz -at- markham -dot- longview -dot- ca
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 12:41:03 -0500

Use a popup to define the acronym for the first occurrence within a topic.

Jo Byrd

Gilda_Spitz -at- markham -dot- longview -dot- ca wrote:

> In the "good old days" of books only, the rule regarding acronyms used to be:
> - Spell out an acronym at first mention - for example, "see your database
> administrator (DBA)".
> - Subsequently use the acronym only - for example, "see your DBA".
> But when you write text for an online help system, you can't assume that users
> will read the "first" text first. So what do you with the concept of "first
> mention"?
> This problem is particularly tricky if you are single-sourcing, as we are. We
> use the same FrameMaker file, with minor changes in conditional text, to
> generate printed books, Acrobat books, and HTML. Oops, sorry, should have said
> "hypertext markup language (HTML). ; - )
> If you take the situation to its extreme, I suppose you could make a case for
> spelling out an acronym every single time. But that seems terribly repetitive.
> On the other hand, if you don't, you risk confusing readers who missed the
> "first mention". We've compromised by spelling it out at first mention within
> each Heading 1, but not any Heading 2s or 3s related to that Heading 1. But
> even that doesn't deal with the issue totally.

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