Acronyms are commonly used in scientific papers to conserve space and prevent authors from having to restate a long phrases. An expert may see certain abbreviations as common; however, a general audience may not.

Is it really appropriate to use acronyms as tags, or should acronyms be avoided?

Acronym tag examples - , , , , , , , , ,

  • $\begingroup$ My immediate first thought was "acronyms, I know what all of those are"! Then I saw inn and had no idea what it is. Granted, I've never heard of "International Nonproprietary Name" either, but I think this is good evidence for the question. $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2016 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ Tags are rather short - 3 words max so I don't see full version of qtaim in tag. iupac acronym is actually more known than full name, spme of others too. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Aug 26, 2016 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ Tag names can't be longer than 25 (?) chars. So you can't have a 'International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry' even if you wanted to. I guess this boils down to how popular the acronyms are among the professionals that use them. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 26, 2016 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ note: dft is just a remapping to density-functional-theory $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2016 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Speaking of inn, there is only one question tagged thus, and it is from 2013. That question is also tagged nomenclature. Thus, inn is not a good tag anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Norris
    Sep 4, 2016 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


My answer to this question is a definite it depends.

One major thing about tags is that they must be shorter than 25 characters. So can’t be a tag (49 characters), hence . That can probably be applied to most tags on the list if they are organisations. would, for example, be a possible tag rather than .

A second question is whether an abbreviation is necessary at all. In my opinion, it is not for , which should imho be preferred over . But that is because DNA and RNA seems more restrictive than nucleic acids to me.

Of course there are acronyms (although they do not have tags afaik) that are more of a backronym if you’re honest: Take for example INADEQUATE. Even if that would fit, absolutely nobody knows the full name unless they just looked it up because they are TA for the NMR course. The same basically applies to all NMR abbreviations, which should definitely be used: , not (But note the caveat that these are not good tags).

But the most important point of this answer is yet to come:
In each and every case where a tag is an abbreviation, the full name must be stated in the tag wiki excerpt so you can find out what it is if you hover over the tag.

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    $\begingroup$ that website is truly inadequate $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2016 at 7:55

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