In my thesis there are 7 chapters. Each chapter contains many nomenclatures and symbols.


Chapter 1

Monte Carlo (MC) simulation is wonderful. MC is a stochastic process.

Chapter 2/3/../7

Do I need to re-expand the nomenclatures at the beginning of each chapter or expanding at the chapter 1 (or first occurrence) is enough?

Symbol: Same question applies for Symbols also. For example, Temperature (T)

(Note: Apart from the above, the list of abbreviations and symbols is a must in the thesis as per institute guideline.)


2 Answers 2


Unlike papers, theses are longer and typically not read in full (someone is going to say “typically not read at all”, but if you are writing yours, please don't listen to these people!). So expanding acronyms for the first time in each chapter makes sense. On the other hand, people who will read chapter 4 of your thesis are probably experts, and so they already know the common acronyms in your field.

For example, Monte Carlo (MC) is trivially used by anyone who knows molecular simulations and wouldn't need to be expanded more than once. On the other hand, acronyms of less common methods might warrant expansion once per chapter: Transition Matrix Monte Carlo (TMMC), Self-Learning Adaptive Umbrella Sampling (SLAUS), etc.

Another solution is to include a list of abbreviations and symbols at the end of your thesis!

  • The list of abbreviations and symbols is a must in the thesis as per institute guideline.
    – cosmicraga
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 9:41
  • @cosmicraga if you have a list of abbreviations and symbols, don't sweat it too much then!
    – F'x
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 10:20

In addition towhat has already been said, you should consider whether all abbreviations are necessary. Some are part of jargon but sometimes you see something abbreviated only to be used, say, twice. In such a case it is unnecessary. My advice is to be relatively restrictive with new abbreviations and ones that are not used very frequently.

I personally think there is a tendency to over-use abbreviations and making wise decisions of when to use them and when not to use them should be part of all scientific writing. In the days when papers were printed on paper there may have been an incentive to make the text shorter but with digital publications, this is no longer really the case.

Whether you should re-introduce some abbreviations in each chapter, I think it is a matter of style and taste. The purpose of reiterating the explanation would be if you think the use is rare so that the reader would forget about them between occurrences. Then it may be useful to drop them altogether.

Variables are slightly different. You should only need to provide an explanation once. That in addition with a list of variables should be sufficient.

As a comment, in your example you abbreviate Monte Carlo simulation as MC and in the second sentence you essentially say "Monte Carlo is a stochastic process" (it is a place). You should use MCS to make the abbreviation full and not subject to misinterpretation.

  • +1 but when weighing up whether to use an abbreviation, also consider the length - it's often not worth abbreviating 3 short words, except in figures.
    – Chris H
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 10:59

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