I premise that my University does not indicate a precise guideline for the typographic rules to be adopted; so I'm wondering if it is a good practice to expand the acronyms only in the abstract and then in the first chapter or if it is bettier to expand them at the beginning of each chapter. I also use a list of acronyms before the table of contents. Can you tell me what is the best choice for a good readability?

P.s. I read some questions very similar to mine and I premise that I need to use acronyms because there are many occurencies in my thesis.

  • Style issues of this type are going to depend on the school, office, etc. Check with how other similar documents have done it in the same place. Your department library likely has a collection of theses. And ask your prof.
    – Boba Fit
    Nov 30, 2022 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


It is not an answer for a thesis specifically, but for journal articles, it usually is required to expand on acronyms on the first instance in every different "part" of the article, that is once in the abstract (or in case of a thesis maybe a summary), once in the main body of the text and again in a list of abbreviations. Of course, if the specific term doesn't appear in the abstract, you do not have to put (and expand) it there.

The reasoning behind this is that some people might only read the abstract/summary and some people only read the main text.

  • Just a note: In chemistry papers, it is not unusual to define the acronyms for lengthy names of chemicals only once in the experimental section. Nov 30, 2022 at 13:53
  • @Sursula -they- Do you mean that it is better to exapand for each chapter of the thesis?
    – g_don
    Nov 30, 2022 at 14:39
  • 1
    No, I do not think that is necessary.
    – Sursula
    Nov 30, 2022 at 14:40
  • 1
    I take it as a convenience factor. You want people to read and understand your thesis. When I wrote my PhD thesis, I didn't focus on the rule as such; I just tried to see whether the sentence I was writing is better-readable with acronym or not; if not, I expanded it there.
    – Coder
    Nov 30, 2022 at 21:48

Like others have mentioned, it really depends on the formatting requirements, the type of style guidelines you're using, etc. Take a look at what other theses look like that have been published by others in your program in years past. For my university, it was recommended to have an index of acryonyms and then you would not need to specify what those meant throughout the rest of the dissertation.

  • Following what others have done is bad advice. This leads to the blind following the blind. Nov 30, 2022 at 21:20
  • I disagree. If the OP is publishing a thesis in their department, they want to follow the guidelines that have been seen as correct by others that have already successfully published a thesis. The larger problem is how their university or department somehow lacks guidelines for publishing a thesis.
    – Parrever
    Nov 30, 2022 at 23:32

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