[Tex/LaTex] Displaying acronyms, abbreviations, and units

acronymsbest practicessiunitx

I use the acronym package for displaying acronyms, such as "KFC". As most of the acronyms are common knowledge, I use \acs{kfc}, which only presents the short form. Also, the siuntix package can be used to display units, such as "km".

To ensure consistency (spacing and appearance) throughout a document, should one:

  • Use the acronym package to define abbreviations, such as "e.g.", "BC", and "Mr."?
  • Use the acronym package together with siunitx to define units, such as "km"?


The solutions explain when to use the acronym package and when to use siunitx. Are there any packages for displaying abbreviations?

Best Answer

Units are not abbreviations: they are symbols which represent a multiplicative factor. It's just like when in LaTeX we say 1.2\linewidth: we don't need to know what number corresponds to \linewidth (which is a number, inside TeX), just to express a multiple of it.

Symbols are to be printed exactly in the same way everywhere they're used. The fact that their shape is obtained by using letters is unimportant. So, "kJ" is not an acronym for "kilo joule" (a strange acronym it would be) but a symbol built according to well defined rules which state, for example, that

kJ = 1000 J

Textual abbreviations are another thing: "e.g." is just a traditional way to write "for instance". The abbreviation "p." can mean either "page" or "pages" according to the context.

Acronyms are something like macros: when I write the acronym UCAS, I have in mind its previously given definition (Ufficio per la Complicazione degli Affari Semplici, in English it would be SMEO, Simple Matter Entanglement Office).

How to distinguish between acronyms and abbreviations? An acronym never has periods; an abbreviations usually has at least one (in British usage it hasn't a period if the abbreviation ends with the final letter of the abbreviated word).