Test Your Knowledge Thursday is back with a government acronym edition. Of course DoD, FBI, or CIA are easy for us to decode. However, we sometimes think we know more than we really do. So, it’s good to test your knowledge and brush up on what you miss. This type of knowledge might save you a quick search later when you are typing up project documentation or your monthly status report. The list for government acronyms can feel endless at times. Plus, if you work for the DoD, sometimes people speak a full sentence using acronyms.

Benefits of Acronyms in the Government life

It is certainly cumbersome in government to spell out or say the full name for many of our institutions, agencies, or practices. It makes complete sense to shorten terms whenever possible. You just have to be sure that everyone is aware of the acronym and uses it uniformly. With so many agencies and procedures in government, our acronyms and abbreviations help our brains chunk the information and organize it. Once we know an acronym, our brains can move on to the rest of the message. It takes less time to write or say an acronym than an agency’s full name.

How to Use an Acronym in Documentation

Depending on audience, an acronym should always be spelled out with its first usage in a document. Sometimes, if your audience is aware of an acronym, you can skip this step. For acronyms that are not well known like DoD, you need to spell out with the first use. After that, acronym away! Of course, if you have an international audience or you’re writing formal documentation, spell it out the first time.

Shortcomings of the Government Acronym Life

Those who know what an acronym means can follow a whole conversation. However, whenever we’re unsure of what is being said, we quickly stop tracking the overall message in favor of decoding an acronym. It’s easy to miss the point of the communication. This is especially hard on those who are either just starting out in their career or on those who are transitioning from another career. It’s important to read the room when speaking and adjust your message accordingly. If you see a confused or unsure face when you’re talking, it might be because someone isn’t sure of an acronym you have used. Always err on the side of clarity.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.