Abbreviations and acronyms in web content

Last updated: June 27, 2022

When used well, abbreviations and acronyms can make content faster to read by using fewer words. When not used well content can lose meaning and clarity.

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Define abbreviations and acronyms

Write the term in full the first time you use it on the page 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.


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.


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