Alphabet Soup

I ran across a sentence with so many initialisms in it that I couldn’t understand it at all:
The NW RMT geologist joined the meeting with Drilling in the field with DSMs, DDs and WSGs.

I think NW means northwest, and I think DDs might mean directional drillers, but the rest are subject to my vivid imagination.

Maybe the author and his boss know them all, but if the report is going overseas to people not in the group, you might want to spell out most of these things.

Otherwise somebody might think it means:
The NorthWest Really Mean Teacher geologist joined the meeting with Drilling in the field with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals, Directional Drillers, and Web Services Groups.

When I worked at Hart’s E&P magazine, ROP had two meanings: “rate of penetration” and “run of press,” which meant the advertisement could be placed anywhere in the magazine that the publisher desired. And EOD may mean “end of day” to one person and “explosive ordnance disposal” to another.

Rule of Thumb: If there could be doubt, spell it out.

Here’s another goofy thing that happens when you use initialisms and acronyms. Whenever I’m typing IHS Energy, the autocorrect feature “fixes” this to HIS, which is not what I want at all. And just last week I ran into a couple of Psia units that had been autocorrected to Pisa, as in the location of the famous Leaning Tower.

If you see this happening as you type, you can fix the automatic fixer so it doesn’t fix it any more. Here’s how to do that in Word 2007: Click the round bubble Microsoft logo button in the upper left corner, in the box that pops up, go to the very bottom and click Word Options. When that dialog box opens, click Proofing in the left column, and then click the AutoCorrect Options button. Go down the list of errors and delete the ones that change ihs to his and psia to pisa.

I enjoyed alphabet soup as a kid, but not so much today when I’m reading and editing.

Profound Quote of the Day

“Action, looks, words, and steps form the alphabet by which you may spell character.”

– Johann Kaspar Lavater, German theologian, 1741-1801


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: