Structure: Abbreviations

Schools or Departments usually prefer students to follow a particular journal style for using abbreviations. For example, UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences students are directed to follow the Society for General Microbiology 'Instructions for Authors'. (Available online:

Abbreviations are usually written in full form when first mentioned followed by the abbreviation in round brackets. Subsequent entries only use the abbreviation.

Example abbreviation used in abstract:

...The linoleic acid isomerase enzyme from Propionibacterium acnes responsible for bioconversion of linoleic acid to trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid (t10, c12 CLA) was cloned and overexpressed in Lactococcus lactis and Escherichia coli, resulting in between 30 and 50% conversion rates of the substrate linoleic acid to t10, c12 CLA. ...

(Extract taken from Roseberg-Cody et al., 2007)

Example abbreviations used in introduction:

... Conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) are a family of positional and geometric isomers of linoleic acid with conjugated double bonds. Biological activities associated with the cis-9, trans-11 CLA (c9, t11 CLA) and the trans-10, cis-12 CLA (t10, c12 CLA) isomers include anti-cancer, ...

(Extract taken from Roseberg-Cody et al., 2007)

Extract from a student's abstract that includes abbreviations:

... Enumeration and initial subculturing were performed with De man, Rogosa, Sharp (MRS) broth and agar, after which the throat sample was cultured on horse blood agar (HBA), while the oral cavity sample was cultured using MRS agar ...

Abbreviations should be used only if essential due to frequent repetition or excessive length of the full name and should follow internationally agreed recommendations.

Refer to the following resources for biological terminology, common abbreviations and advice on nomenclature:

Bergey's Manual Trust (2007). Bergey's Manual, 2nd edn. New York:Springer-Verlag.

International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2006). Instructions for Authors. Available:

Lawrence, E. (1995). Henderson's Dictionary of Biological Terms, 11th edn. Wiley.


Roseberg-Copy, E., Johnson, M.C., Fitzgerald, G.F., Ross, P.R. & Stanton, C. (2007). Heterologous expression of linoleic acid isomerase from Propionibacterium acnes and anti-proliferative activity of recombinant trans-10, cis-12 conjugated linoleic acid. Microbiology 153, 2483-2490.

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