§ 19. Shun newfangled acronyms.
In a law journal, find a passage that contains too many acronyms. Pick out one paragraph, type it (with citation), copy it, and then revise it to minimize the acronyms while you avoid repeating cumbersome phrases. If you're part of a writing group or class, bring a copy of your before-and-after versions for each colleague.
In a book or article, find 10 to 20 acronyms. On a single page, present the acronyms together with their meanings. If you're part of a writing group or class, bring a copy for each colleague and be prepared to discuss (1) the extent to which you think the acronyms save time in communication among specialists, (2) the extent to which you think they impede understanding for ordinary readers, and (3) the relative desirability and feasibility of making the field more understandable to more people.
In the literature on effective writing, find two sources that discuss the use of acronyms. Distill their guidance and write a one-page report on your findings. If you're part of a writing group or class, bring a copy for each colleague.
© 2001, Bryan A. Garner
These exercises appear in Bryan A. Garner's Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises, published by The University of Chicago Press and available at bookstores and on the Web at www.press.uchicago.edu.