Abbreviations and acronyms in web content

Abbreviations and acronyms can make content faster to read by using as few letters as possible. Try to reduce the need for acronyms by limiting policy language.

On this page

Related content not on this page:


Define abbreviations and acronyms

Write the term in full the first time you use it in content and put the abbreviation or acronym in parentheses, for example:

  • Personal Education Number (PEN)

You may use the shortened version without writing the full term if you’re confident it’s better known to the widest audience than the long-form version. Such as, PDF or DNA.


Capitalization

Most acronyms are written in all caps. Check the Canadian Press style guide (external link) for exceptions. If you don’t have a guide, contact your ministry’s Government Communications and Public Engagement shop.


Provinces and territories

You do not need to spell out British Columbia before using the abbreviation B.C. 

Always use periods between the 'B' and the 'C', for example: B.C. The only exceptions are brand or company names, such as BC Ferries or BC Hydro.

Other Canadian provinces and territories are abbreviated using periods only when they include more than one word:

  • Alberta: AB
  • Manitoba: MB
  • New Brunswick: N.B.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: N.L.
  • Northwest Territories: N.T.
  • Nova Scotia: N.S.
  • Nunavut: NU
  • Ontario: ON
  • Prince Edward Island: P.E.I.
  • Québec: QC
  • Saskatchewan: SK
  • Yukon: YT

For mailing addresses see Canada Post's guidance on abbreviations (external link)


Latin abbreviations

Don't use e.g. or i.e. Instead, use ‘such as’, ‘like’ or ‘for example’ to introduce examples.


Metadata

Include abbreviations that your audience uses in your metadata to help search engines find your page more easily.