An acronym is pronounced as a word: SUNY. An initialism is pronounced as a series of letters: CEO. Some acronyms and initialisms are so well known (for example, FBI, CIA, NATO, CEO) that such uses are acceptable on first reference. However, in general, avoid alphabet soup whenever possible, especially in cases where the use would confuse the reader. The acronym SUNY is usually a fine reference for New York residents, but the meaning would likely be lost on a nationwide audience, so State University of New York is preferred in the first reference. When they are used, introduce acronyms or initialisms in parentheses following the first reference: Jorma Kaukonen will appear at the Performing Arts Center (PAC). Tickets are on sale in the PAC lobby beginning Tuesday. However, in many cases even this use can be avoided with the center, the committee, the agency, etc.

Also see the University and College References section.