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Words and phrases Abbreviations

Overview

Use abbreviations and acronyms for terms or organisations that appear frequently. Only use them where they are helpful. Never use full stops or italics in abbreviations.

Writing abbreviations

Write the name or term out in full the first time you use it within the body text of a section, followed by the abbreviation in brackets. After that, use the abbreviation. Acronyms need to be written out in full again the first time they are used in each section of your article or page.

Do not use abbreviations in section headings or sub-headings.

The Labour Force Survey

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a continuous survey. Users of the LFS…

Exception

Terms that are an exception to this rule include:

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH)
  • House Price Index (HPI)
  • Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP)
  • Retail Price Index (RPI)
  • Services Producer Price Index (SPPI)
  • Producer Price Index (PPI)
  • gross domestic product (GDP)

For these terms, use abbreviations in section headings or sub-headings. Then write the term out in full the first time you use it within the body text of a section, followed by the abbreviation in brackets.

CPI and CPIH

We measure inflation using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH).

What GDP measures

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of goods and services produced in the UK. It estimates the size of and growth in the economy.

Using capital letters

Abbreviations and acronyms generally use capitals (BBC, NATO), even when the subject may be lower case. For example, initial teacher training is ITT.

Sometimes they can be a mixture of upper and lower case (VoIP, DfE). This usually occurs in brand names like PowerPoint, PlayStation, iPhone.

Exception

In text, use UK Statistics Authority the first time and then The Authority. Never use UKSA, as this is the registered trademark of the UK Shareholders Alliance.

You should repeat the full term if you need to refresh the reader’s memory, for example, at the beginning of sections. Be aware that, on GOV.UK, if a user hovers their mouse over an acronym the full term is shown. This is not the case on the ONS website currently.

Commonly known abbreviations

Where something is commonly known by its abbreviation, only use the abbreviation.

UK
EU
US
BBC
IT
NHS
G7
G20

Foreign abbreviations

Never italicise foreign abbreviations. The following list shows the only foreign abbreviations that should be used.

ad hoc

This means “for this special purpose”. It is never hyphenated, even when used as a compound adjective. For example, ad hoc request.

eg

Exempli gratia means “for example”. Use this expression only in tables, where space is limited.

etc

A contraction of “et cetera” which means “and other things”.

ie

This means “that is”. Only use this in tables, where space is limited.

NB

Do not use this, write “Note:” instead.

Classifications

Write classifications in full the first time they are mentioned in each section and then use the abbreviation for any subsequent uses. When numbers or dates are part of the abbreviation, avoid using brackets and give the year in full.

Classifications should always be upper case as they are proper nouns

Standard Industrial Classification 2007: SIC 2007
Standard Occupational Classification 2010: SOC 2010
National Statistics Socio-economic Classification: NS-SEC
Statistical classification of products by activity 2008: CPA 2008
National Statistics Country Classification: NSCC
Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics: NUTS1, NUTS2, NUTS3

For SIC and SOC, insert “UK” the first time they are mentioned if you need to stress that it is UK-specific. “UK” does not need to be repeated if the meaning is clear.

UK SIC 2007

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