AVMA Journals Style Standard Abbreviations


Overuse of abbreviations can make the text confusing, ambiguous, and frustrating to read. Therefore, we encourage authors to limit abbreviations to standard units of measure and to those abbreviations in the journal’s list of standard abbreviations that can be used without expansion.

Other abbreviations are acceptable when a long, cumbersome, or awkward word or phrase is used. However, even in these instances, a term should generally be abbreviated only if it is used at least 3 times. Also, when considering whether to use an abbreviation, remember that abbreviations commonly used in a specific field may not be well known to readers outside that field.

For abbreviations other than those included in the journal’s list of standard abbreviations, the term must be expanded at first mention, with the abbreviation given in parentheses after the expanded term, in each of the 5 following parts of the manuscript: abstract, manuscript text, figures, tables, and appendices. The abbreviation is then used without expansion throughout the remainder of that manuscript part. All abbreviations should be derived directly from the word or words that make up the expanded term.

Abbreviations that appear only in figures should be defined in the legend of the first figure in which they appear; abbreviations that appear only in tables should be defined in the title or footnotes of the first table in which they appear.

Except for the abbreviations ELISA, ACTH, EDTA, DNA, and RNA, abbreviations should generally not be used in titles.

If applicable, also refer to the Journal style for Pharmacologic and Pharmacokinetics Terminology.

Standard abbreviations that can be used without expansion

The following is a list of abbreviations that may be used without expansion in the abstract, main text, figures, tables, and appendices.

2-D 2-dimensional or 2 dimensions HIV Human immunodeficiency virus
3-D 3-dimensional or 3 dimensions hpf High-power field or high-power fields
    HU Hounsfield unit or Hounsfield units
ACTH Adrenocorticotropic hormone    
ADP Adenosine diphosphate ie* Latin for "that is"
AMDUCA Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act    
ANCOVA Analysis of covariance JAVMA Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
ANOVA Analysis of variance    
APHIS Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service    
approx* Approximately kVp Kilovolt peak
ATCC American Type Culture Collection    
ATP Adenosine triphosphate LD50 Median lethal dose
ATPase Adenosine triphosphatase    
AVMA American Veterinary Medical Association MRI§ Magnetic resonance imaging
    mRNA Messenger ribonucleic acid
BCG Bacille Calmette-Guerin m/z Mass-to-charge ratio
bp‡ Base pairs    
BUN Blood urea nitrogen NIH National Institutes of Health
    NSAID Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
cAMP Cyclic adenosine monophosphate    
CBC Complete blood count OR Odds ratio
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention    
cDNA Complementary deoxyribonucleic acid PAGE Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis
CFU‡ Colony-forming unit PBS Phosphate-buffered saline
CI Confidence interval PBSS║ Phosphate-buffered saline solution
CNS Central nervous system PCR Polymerase chain reaction
CPR Cardiopulmonary resuscitation PCV Packed cell volume
CSF Cerebrospinal fluid    
CT Computed tomography or computed tomographic RBC Red blood cell
    RNA Ribonucleic acid
DICOM Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine RPMI Roswell Park Memorial Institute
DMSO Dimethyl sulfoxide rRNA Ribosomal ribonucleic acid
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid    
dNTP Deoxyribonucleotide triphosphate SD Standard deviation
    SDS Sodium dodecyl sulfate
ECG Electrocardiogram or electrocardiographic SE Standard error
EDTA Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid SEM Standard error of the mean
eg* Latin for “for example STIR Short tau inversion recovery
ELISA Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay SUN Serum urea nitrogen
FDA Food and Drug Administration TCID50 Median tissue culture infective dose
FeLV Feline leukemia virus tRNA Transfer ribonucleic acid
FIV Feline immunodeficiency virus    
FLAIR Fluid-attenuated inversion recovery US† United States
    USDA United States Department of Agriculture
H&E Hematoxylin and eosin UV Ultraviolet
Hct Hematocrit    
HEPES N-2-Hydroxyethylpiperazine-N'-2-ethanesulfonic acid WBC White blood cell

*Use only in parenthetical expressions.
†The abbreviation US may be used without expansion at first mention only when it is used as a modifier and only when it directly precedes the word it modifies. In other instances, United States should be used.
‡Abbreviate on first mention in AJVR only. In JAVMA, expand this term on first mention if used at least 3 times, if the authors desire.
§Although this abbreviation can be an adjective or a noun, it cannot be used to mean magnetic resonance image. The term MRI image is acceptable.
║In AJVR, PBSS may be used without expansion on first mention, or it may be expanded to PBS solution and used as such throughout the report; it is the authors’ choice. In JAVMA, PBSS should be expanded on first mention if used at least 3 times.

Divisions of time

Use the following abbreviations for divisions of time in virgule constructions, figures, and tables:

Millisecond ms
Second s
Minute min
Hour h
Day d
Week wk
Month mo
Year y

Exceptions: a division of time appearing in a table column heading should be spelled out, unless the division is in parentheses. Similarly, a division of time should be spelled out when used in a figure axis label, unless the division is in parentheses. In such parenthetical expressions, the abbreviation should be used.

Routes of administration

The following commonly used administration routes can be abbreviated on first mention:

IA Intra-articular
ID Intradermal
IM Intramuscular
IP Intraperitoneal
IV Intravenous
PO Per os
SC Subcutaneous

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