Friday, March 30, 2012

Having Quite A Day!

Having Quite A Day!

March 30, 2012

By Julie Kay Smithson

I'm having quite a day today, dealing with acronyms and abbreviations, as well as upper- and lower-case word spellings -- all in one article, or in this case, two, articles!

One, from an Arizona newspaper, referenced SARA Park, which I researched in order to learn that "SARA" means "Special Activity and Recreation Area" and is land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), but managed by Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Wait until the BLM's "Travel Management Plan" comes to town!!!

I phoned the editor of the Arizona paper for clarification of the meaning, and even she didn't know! Thirty minutes later, I phoned her back and explained that I'd found the meaning. Imagine how readers of this article must feel -- especially those that may vacation in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, or other nearby places -- when they read something that looks like someone's name in "ALL CAPS"!

The other article, from North Dakota, refers to SAM (South America), HRS (Hard Red Spring - wheat) and HRW (Hard Red Winter - wheat), as well as "hedges" and "stocks," which -- in the case of this particular article, are stock market trading terms. Also used without explanation -- or being first spelled out -- were "ND," "TX" and "NOT." In the first two, what was meant was North Dakota and Texas; in the third, the word was "not" and had been capitalized for emphasis rather than italicizing.

The reason given by someone in the North Dakota publication's office was: "We only have so many words available for each article, so we shorten things up as much as possible." That's great -- if readers know what is meant by such acronyms, abbreviations and words emphasized by "ALL CAPS," but sure thwarts a fully-understood article to many others.

There is a handy website for deciphering some of these buggers: -- but even that website does not offer a comprehensive list, especially when some acronyms and abbreviations are created and used only by locals, but are not in the national vernacular.

Please, if you desire to have your writing understood, and not have readers scratching their heads like they're making a commercial for a dandruff shampoo, always spell things out the first time you use them, spell check and check for correct grammar (to, too, two; your vs. you're; lose vs. loose, etc.). After all, you not only want others to read what you've written -- you also want them to understand!


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