Do I expand abbreviations at their first use per section or per paper?

This is an IEEE publication, but I haven't come across any specific instructions.

  • 3
    If possible, just avoid abbreviations entirely. (Of course it may not be possible.)
    – JeffE
    Apr 30, 2012 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


I would do it per paper, unless the paper is extremely long and some abbreviations are defined (and used) in the start, but not used again until 20 or 30 pages later.

It's okay to remind a reader what the abbreviations mean, but avoid annoying the reader by being overly and unnecessarily repetitive.

  • 1
    Thanks- paper is only 11 pages long, so I'll probably limit it to the first instance of use per paper.
    – jeep9911
    Apr 30, 2012 at 14:40
  • I also expand the abbreviation on first use in captions and the abstract.
    – StrongBad
    Mar 23, 2013 at 19:41

The standard is once per "document," whether that's a report, or a book, or a journal article. However, longer documents will typically come with lists of abbreviations and symbols; many journals also do this. Even then, it's still better to define it once in the text first:

standard widget units (SWUs)

before using it again later.

  • (SWUs) — Shudder. Just spell it out. Ink is cheap.
    – JeffE
    Mar 23, 2013 at 21:23
  • 3
    Ink is cheap, except when you have a page limit to worry about.
    – aeismail
    Mar 23, 2013 at 21:39

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