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Denny's Daily Zinger: Sloppy Users of Abbreviations and Acronyms

April 30, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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I don't know what I think about genetically modified foods. I read somewhere they will save the planet from universal starvation. Or do they violate God's plan, and are they dangerous?

I figured I could get up to speed on the subject in a story in The Wall Street Journal last Thursday by Annie Gasparro and Jacob Bunge:

Vermont to Enact GMO Food-Labeling Law

Throughout the story the writers kept using the term "GMO."

"GM" stands for "genetically modified."

"What's the "O"?

Nowhere in the story was "GMO" defined.

I got totally sidetracked searching all over the Internet for GMO.

About Abbreviations and Acronyms
Universally understood abbreviations and acronyms are okay to use without explanation: U.N., ATM, FYI, NBC, NATO, PIN, D-Day, PR, P.S., etc.

With an unfamiliar term such as "GMO," two thoughts:

  • If all your readers are farmers and scientists it's okay to use GMO.
  • If your writing is for non-experts, it's rude to use an unfamiliar abbreviation and not define it.
  • Even if defined at first usage, it's equally rude to spring it on the reader 30 pages later without a reminder of what it stands for. The reader is forced to stop reading and go look for the definition. Concentration is broken and the reader feels like a dope.

Takeaways to Consider

  • Annie Gasparro and Jacob Bunge are sloppy journalists who don't think of their readers.
  • Their Wall Street Journal editor is incompetent.
  • We are all a mouse-click away from oblivion.
  • The "O" stands for organism.

Denny Hatch 's new book is "Write Everything Right!" Pat Friesen writes, "This book is guaranteed to help you fine-tune your writing skills whatever you write. Denny's wit and craftsmanship as an experienced writer/author shine through on every page." Click here to download (opens as a PDF) and read the first three chapters FREE. The title is also available on Kindle. Reach Denny at dennyhatch@yahoo.com.

 

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