This is a follow-on question to Is it reasonable to use full word and abbreviation in parenthesis in a chapter title?

One answer to that question indicates that in some cases, using an abbreviation in a chapter/section title is acceptable, other times not.

In the cases when it is acceptable, should you redefine the abbreviation before its first use in the chapter/section? Here is an example:

Chapter 4 - Results of Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)

The apparent crystallographic phase transition of the sample material suggested that Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) was warranted to determine the phase transition temperature and heat capacity. The results of the DSC measurements follow.

  • 3
    Just don't put the abbreviation in the chapter title. Better yet, if you have the option, don't use the abbreviation at all. Ink is cheap.
    – JeffE
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 2:56
  • 1
    @JeffE I'm just asking a follow on question to the one I referenced; the discussion of whether or not to put abbreviations in the chapter/section title in the first place belongs there. My interest is just what to do in the body text if we were to follow aeismail♦'s (accepted) answer.
    – iwantmyphd
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 4:05
  • @iwantmyphd you've misundestood aeismail's answer. And because of that, your question here does not make sense.
    – 410 gone
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 5:33
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a misunderstanding of the answer to another question
    – 410 gone
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 5:33
  • @EnergyNumbers With all due respect, my understanding of aeismail♦'s answer is that the only correct use of abbreviations in titles are for"'standard' ones that are normally (or at least very frequently) written in their abbreviated form." The abbreviation in my example (DSC) is an example of such an abbreviation; it's well known, perhaps not as ubiquitous as say, LASER, SCUBA, or RADAR. In a case like mine, should someone then completely ignore the full name when first introduced in the body text of that chapter/section? I think that's a valid question.
    – iwantmyphd
    Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Just my opinion, but normally I wouldn't include the abbreviation in a title or chapter heading. Instead, I would introduce the abbreviation in "normal" text. So in your example, I would change the heading to

Chapter 4 - Results of Differential Scanning Calorimetry

but leave the rest as you have it.

An exception would be if this is a well-known abbreviation, so common that people tend to forget what it stands for. In this case, not including it might actually be confusing. For example, if a heading mentions "Internet protocol address", it might take me a split second to realise you're talking about an IP address!

  • So in the exception when it's a really common abbreviation that is ok to use in a title, do you spell it out before using the abbreviation the first time in the text?
    – iwantmyphd
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 3:56
  • @iwantmyphd if it's common only in a specific area of research, spell it out once to help cross-discipline researchers. For truly commonly known abbreviations I do not know, but I believe the entire point about spelling it out is to remove ambiguities, so if there is reason to believe that truly everyone understand the abbreviation, that's an interesting question.
    – kaiya
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 16:07

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