Date published October 20, 2014 by Michelle Mertens. Date updated: March 24, 2017
In the list of abbreviations, also called the explanation of acronyms, you provide alphabetical abbreviations of important terms in your dissertation. By looking at this alphabetized list, the reader can easily locate defined abbreviations.
When do you use a list of abbreviations?
If you use a lot of technical abbreviations in your dissertation, then it is advisable to provide a list of abbreviations. Not every reader of your dissertation will be familiar with these abbreviations, and many will find them difficult. The readability of your document is improved with a list of abbreviations.
Where do you put the list of abbreviations in your dissertation?
You place the list of abbreviations at the beginning of the document, just after the table of contents. The readers of your dissertation can then find any abbreviations unknown to them in this specific place.
You add the list of abbreviations header to your table of contents, so that is it clear to the reader that an explanation of abbreviations has been added to your dissertation.
It may be that you only have a few abbreviations that require explanation. You can provide these explanations in a footnote. Then the reader doesn’t have to pause to backtrack for those few abbreviations.
Example list of abbreviations
Example: List of abbrevations
Using abbreviations (acronyms) in your text
There are many rules with regard to using abbreviations in a dissertation. In short, when you use an abbreviation, or more specifically an acronym, in your dissertation for a particular word or phrase, you write the first occurrence of the word or phrase in full. Immediately thereafter, you place in parentheses the abbreviation that you will use in the rest of the document.
Example: Write the abbreviation in full at first mention
In this study, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at Vroom & Dreesman (V&D) is examined. At V&D, CRM has been used for many years to ensure that the focus is on customer contact and that this contact is increasingly improved.
Abbreviations according to the APA style
Do you use the APA style? The APA style sets additional specific requirements for the use of abbreviations in your dissertation.
Additional lists in your dissertation
In addition to the list of abbreviations, you can also use a list of tables and figures and a glossary. When doing so, make use of the following order:
The other answers already contain the conclusions of my answer. However, I'll try to give some reasoning behind.
Glossary, Nomenclature, List of Symbols, Index, References, etc. -- all these are indexes, and should go to the backmatter.
Table of Contents, List of Figures, etc. -- these specify the contents, and should go to the frontmatter.
The difference is that indexes are have in general logical sorting of some type (alphabetical or other), whereas the contents strictly reflect the order of the text in the document.
As for the order of them: the more used they are, the farer away from the mainmatter they go (i.e. first in frontmatter and last in backmatter). This depends a lot on your reader. The reason for this is that the closer to the cover they are, the easier it is to reach them. In general, the most used index in a thesis are the references, so they go last. In textbooks, the General index goes last, since it's more interesting for the reader.
The rule above is, on the other hand, less important than the fact that Title, half-title, dedication, preface and colophon have priority, and are obviously the outer-most elements of the work.
So, in the end, you might get to this order:
In the end, none of these rules is very strict.
answered Dec 12 '13 at 13:09