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CEO Is Not an Acronym!

In a recent post, I referred to CEO as an acronym, but it’s not. Now that I have been corrected, I’ll share my learning with you.

CEO (for Chief Executive Officer) is an initialism–not an acronym. We pronounce each letter, just as we do with ATM, LCD, and FDA.

NOW for National Organization of Women and OSHA for Occupational Safety and Health Administration are acronyms–abbreviations that are pronounced as words rather than letter by letter.

Sometimes an abbreviation can be both an initialism and an acronym. For example, URL is pronounced by some as U-R-L and by others as “erl.”

And here’s another tidbit for business writing excellence:

If you pronounce URL as U-R-L, use the article a before it. If you pronounce it as “erl,” use the word an.

Don’t you feel wiser now?

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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