How to Use Shorthand to Communicate Ideas on the University of Maine System Website

Acronyms, abbreviations and other shorthand are used often in writing between professionals within the same workplace or professional industry. These styles of shorthand convey information between professionals, but are not always intuitive or known by every user using a website or may present barriers for accessibility, individuals for whom English is not their first language or individuals with differing cognitive ability. For this reason, it is important to follow editorial guidelines on how to use shorthand when writing about schools, departments or industry-specific information across the University of Maine System Website. The website follows the Associated Press Online Stylebook (External Link) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) (External Link) for all guidance on how to represent this information.

Because the University of Maine System is an institution of higher learning and an institution that prioritizes accessible web content, consistency and accuracy are important. Please review your web content for errors in using shorthand with the below guidelines.

University names

  • Spell out all university school names instead of writing the school name as an acronym, e.g. “University of Maine at Fort Kent” instead of “UMFK”.
    Exception: When the full school name will not fit in a table name; in this case, include a key at the beginning of the page defining the abbreviated school names.

Abbreviations and acronyms

  • Do not use abbreviations or acronyms that the reader would not quickly recognize (e.g. you may use “USA” for “United States of America” or “Dr.” for “Doctor”, but avoid using “UMS” for “University of Maine System”).
  • If abbreviations must be used, they should be defined the first time they are used on every single webpage in which they appear (e.g. “University of Maine System (UMS)”). If abbreviations are used on pages that exceed 300 words of text, define them frequently.


  • Avoid conjunctions whenever possible, with the exception of “don’t” (e.g. please avoid “you’re”, “you’ve”, “how’ve”, etc.). Exception: Conjunctions may be utilized when quoting someone.

Note: Possessive nouns are not conjunctions


  • Jargon is language, especially vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession or group. Avoid jargon whenever possible. If jargon must be used, define it thoroughly. Please read our web writing best practices article to learn more.