Editorial Help Desk:

Your Resource for Grammar and
MCPS Style

Word of the Month

A minor weakness or shortcoming in character or behavior.
Maria's only foible is her weakness for chocolate.

Tip of the Month

An abbreviation is any shortened form of a word. For example: etc. for etcetera, and Jul. for July. Acronyms and initialisms are also types of abbreviations.

Articles at the beginning
To know what article to use before an abbreviation, answer the question, "Does it begin with a consonant sound or a vowel sound?" If it begins with a consonant sound, use a, if it begins with a vowel sound, except for u, use an.
A TSA officer
A pdf
A USDA-approved product

An MCPS school bus
An IRS form
An NHL team

use a, not an, before abbreviations and words beginning with the sound of w or y (this is the exception).

Apostrophes and plurals
If the plural abbreviation is composed of lowercase letters, a single letter, or would otherwise be confusing, add an apostrophe before the s.
Students who got A's and B's
The Ph.D.'s at the meeting
The pdf's in the folder
All MS's in the cluster

Starting with abbreviations
It is acceptable to start a sentence with an acronym or an initialism
RSVPs were received late.
FMS usage is on the rise.

However, if the abbreviation is a partial word, spell it out or use a work-around.
YES:    September 4 is the first day of school.
NO:      Sept. 4 is the first day of school.

YES:    Figure 3 shows how growth has waned.
NO:      Fig. 3 shows how growth has waned.

YES:    The n in each case denotes the unknown.
NO:      n in each case denotes the unknown.

When in doubt, contact the Editorial Help Desk for help (Donna_M_Marks@mcpsmd.org)
or call 240-740-2971.


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Learn to decipher the alphabet soup! Look it up in MCPS Acronyms

Do you know the difference between an ELT and an EMT, between FLS and FLES? Keep this reference on hand and you'll never get lost in jargon.

MCPS Acronyms (PDF)

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Montgomery County Public Schools Interactive Correspondence Manual

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