I'm writing my master thesis and I've created an initialism that has the letter S repeated three times in a row (the initialism is OSSSP and stands for Optimization Search Space Scope Parameters). In my opinion, the constant repetition of letters in initialisms, abbreviations, and acronyms makes them look ugly, but I couldn't find a well-accepted rule for what to do in such scenarios.

Turn my initialism in something like 'OS3P' is an option, but it seems to be naive and informal. If I knew how to do it for this specific case, choosing synonyms to replace the original expression would be an option too. Any other thoughts on this?

  • How about OSP = "Optimization Scope Parameters"?
    – Anyon
    Aug 3, 2020 at 16:20
  • Would you consider "Parameterized Optimal Search Space" or POSS? Now that I see it in writing, I can't recommend it. But perhaps you'll find it amusing. Aug 4, 2020 at 3:34
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    The problem with OS3P is that some people may believe it is a shorthand for OSPPP. For example, in France, C2I stands for "Certificat Informatique et Internet".
    – Taladris
    Aug 4, 2020 at 7:17
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    Are there any existing, similar abbreviations in common use, in your field? Avoiding confusion is probably more important than looking pretty.
    – MikeB
    Aug 4, 2020 at 9:24

2 Answers 2


Turn my initialism in something like 'OS3P' is an option, but it seems to be naive and informal.

There's no rule against such kind of initialisms, and I wouldn't consider it naive either. Actually, there are standards designated in similar ways, e.g. the I2C and I2S data busses, also spelled I2C and I2S.

  • 5
    +1 Similar acronyms occur in names of well-known tech organizations and much-cited research papers. Also: i18n.
    – cheersmate
    Aug 3, 2020 at 15:03
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    IMO the superscript notation is a little better. But really, when it becomes famous people will get used to whatever you call it :) There's a well-known algorithm in mathematics called the LLL-algorithm (after its three creators' initials) and we're fine with the triple L. Aug 3, 2020 at 23:45
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    If you pick a superscript, be prepared that 99.9..% of the time it will be written without the superscript (except for official documentation I'd think) - at which point why bother in the first place?
    – Voo
    Aug 4, 2020 at 10:11

I doubt there's a rule. I agree that OSSSP is ugly. "OSP" for "optimum search parameters" with the full five word meaning when you first define it should work fine.

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