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For my next work assignment, I'm writing training/user documentation for enhancements to my company's administrative software, due to be implemented next March. (It's an ugly mainframe system, but oh well.) As luck would have it, I'm included in the development meetings. One of the areas where I think I can make a contribution is in field names, which are clumsily and inconsistently abbreviated throughout.
My question is this: Are there any guidelines for abbreviating field names? For example, even if you have 4 spaces, I'd rather see CLAIM abbreviated as CLM than CLIM... seems misleading to split a vowel pair. Also, is it better to drop letters (preferably vowels?) out of the middle of the word, or truncate it? And would you use a period to signify that this is a shortened version of the word (which itself takes up a space that could be occupied by an additional letter)? For example: ACTION becomes ACT. (vs. maybe ACTN).