Thesis Abbreviations

Avatar for rewt

Hello everyone,

Is it okay if I start using abbreviations half way though my thesis?
My supervisor is unsure as well, and I have realised that my results chapters abuse abbreviations while the intro, lit review and methodology have virtually none. I have clearly introduced all the abbreviations and once introduced they have been used consistently. Though do you think that is appropriate or is it an all or nothing thing?

Any advice is welcome


Hi rewt,

I think you need consistency in your thesis. If you're going to use abbreviations - and I think you should, because they help your word count and save you time - then you should use them from the start, not half way through. This would mean reading through your thesis and adding abbreviations as required. It might take a some time, but it would be easy and save you more time in the long run. The first mention of an abbreviation should spell it out in full with the abbreviation afterwards eg British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). You might also want to consider adding a table of the abbreviations used, so that anyone reading your thesis can easily refer to the table and find out what an abbreviation means.

I hope that's helpful.



Hi rewt,

I would suggest that you keep it consistent. if you do not want to use abbreviations, then don't. If you want to use them, then introduce the full word the first time and then use abbreviations there after.


Hi Rewt,

I also agree with Tru that the most important thing is consistency. As long as you are consistent throughout your thesis, I think it is just a matter of personal preference whether you decide to use abbreviations or not.

I personally used a few as my PhD thesis had a word limit and there were a few multi-word expressions I frequently used in my thesis, which were really 'eating up' my word count. Unless you have a strong reason for using them, I would not worry about them (considering that you started without them). You surely know best what is clearer/best for your thesis, though, so please don't let my views influence you if you disagree.

If I were in your position, I would question whether using abbreviations could undermine the clarity of your thesis, in any way. If the answer to that is no, I would consider using them. If you decide to use them I would include a list of the abbreviations you used at the beginning of your thesis.

I hope this helps


I think it is fine and what I did.
My lit review had none, as such bar one!
The working chapter had loads. I had a full list at the start of the thesis and the first time they were used in each chapter I stated what they were again. My second sup. suggested this as not everyone will read the thesis from start to finish. and he found the abbreviation being mentioned again in each chapter easier to follow.
Just make sure your abverviation are clear.

Avatar for rewt

Thanks everyone for your advice, it is reassuring. I think I am just going to treat each chapter separately but with no contradicting abbreviations. So I can keep the results chapters with abbreviations.