Re: Setting up acronyms

Subject: Re: Setting up acronyms
From: "Janet Swisher" <jmswisher -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "jopakent -at- comcast -dot- net" <jopakent -at- comcast -dot- net>
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2008 14:18:52 -0500

On 7/21/08, jopakent -at- comcast -dot- net <jopakent -at- comcast -dot- net> wrote:
> Silly one here..
> It seems to me that it is incorrect to capitalize acronym set-ups just because they are acronyms.
> For instance: general arrangement (GA) seems correct, while General Arrangement (GA) does not.
> I see engineers using capitalization to designate things as significant all the time (for instance, the Control System operates the yada-yada). To me, the desire to cap acronym set-ups is just more of the same.
> On the other hand, if the set-up is for a proper noun, Geographic Information Service (GIS) I can see the propriety of capitalizing it.
> Can I get a reality check here? I don't have a style guide handy so I checked Chicago Online and it seems to support my point of view:
> Q. When you have an initialism, do you cap the first letter of each word when the phrase is completely spelled out?
> A. In the spelled-out version, simply cap as you would if an initialism did not exist: standard operating procedures (SOPs), Rhode Island (RI), American Journal of Education ( AJE ), Mothers against Preschoolers (MAP).
> Any pointers on how I can persuade folks to adopt the usage I'm favoring?

I agree with you and CMOS on the particulars, but this is
fundamentally an interpersonal question, not a writing style question.
How do you get other people to adopt any style rule?

In general, start by putting the rule in your in-house style guide
(you do have one, don't you?), with a reference to the CMOS Online
page. Then edit everything that passes through your hands to conform
to the style guide. Explain to all your authors why you are making
these changes, and refer them to the style guide.

I think you are likely to fight a losing battle over this particular
rule, given the more general trend you noted of over-capitalizing, to
which both engineers and marketers seem prone. (Lyn Dupre calls this
the "Pooh-Bear" style of capitalization, "in which Everything takes on
Great Importance", after its use in the works of A.A. Milne.) You
might choose to wage a wider campaign against Pooh-Bearisms. Or you
might decide to pick a different battle, one where there is greater
inconsistency, or where a usage substantially interferes with clear

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Setting up acronyms: From: jopakent

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