Abbreviations and contractions

An abbreviation omits letters from the end of a word and a contraction omits letters from the middle of a word.

 In general, the letters in abbreviations and contractions should not be separated by full stops or spaces, and only the first letter should be capitalised (though note the exception of ‘am’ and ‘pm’ in the examples below).

For example:

  • Thomas holds a BSc in Biology from Imperial.
  • Dr Tristan Allwood was awarded a President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014.
  • The saiga antelope typically weighs between 21 and 51kg.
  • The College considers mitigating circumstances affecting academic performance in relation to examinations, coursework, attendance, etc.

 Professor should not be abbreviated to ‘Prof’ in written communication.


An acronym is formed from the initial letters of words. The letters in acronyms should all be capitalised, and they should not be separated by full stops or spaces.

In general, an acronym should be spelt out in full the first time it is used, with the acronym following in brackets if the term will be used again in the piece. Subsequently, the acronym can be used alone. This may not be necessary for acronyms that will be widely recognised by your readers (for example, CV, BBC, UN, PDF, NHS, NASA, AIDS).

For example:

  • The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI) works to eliminate the effects of schistosomiasis and intestinal worms among the world’s poorest populations. Hundreds of Imperial alumni have donated money to support the SCI.
  • Professor Dallman was interviewed recently by CNN.
  • Applicants should submit their CVs and covering letters by 17 June.

For names, where possible use the full name. If this is not feasible (for example, if an individual prefers to use his or her initials only), a person’s initials should be followed by a full stop. If there is more than one initial, there should be no spaces between the full stop and the next letter.

For example:

  • Professor Alice P. Gast became President of Imperial College London in 2014.
  • C.V. Boys was a British physicist who taught at the Royal College of Science (now part of Imperial) at the end of the nineteenth century.


Ampersands should only be used when they form part of a title or name. In all other instances, ‘and’ should be spelt out.

For example:

  • Dr Smith has acted as an advisor to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
  • Abby is studying for an MSc in Advanced Materials Science and Engineering.
  • The Translation & Innovation Hub at White City Campus will open in 2016.