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Anyone who works in the non-profit world knows it's lousy with acronyms (although there are plenty of for-profit violators too). It seems that every charity that has a full name in English that everyone understands, yet they insist on using an acronym that no one outside their office recognizes. If all you are doing is distributing documents internally, by all means go nuts with your abbreviations. But if those obscure references are headed for your website, think again. Why? Because websites are intended for the public. Nearly every one of Talance's clients claims that the aim of their website is to reach more and more people and make their information easier to use. One of the first barriers to friendly, accessible information is to go overboard on the acronyms. It doesn't have to be that way, however. Here are a few tips on dealing with letter overload online:
- Spell out the acronyms on first reference (e.g., “The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) offers useful tips on creating better websites”).
- Use the <acronym> tag. This lets users hover their cursor over each acronym to see what it stands for.
- If a descriptive term is better, always use it instead of the acronym.