List of abbreviations in the dissertation

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, it’s a good idea to provide an alphabetical list of their definitions. This improves the readability of the document, allowing readers to easily look up unfamiliar abbreviations.

Where do you put the list of abbreviations?

The list of abbreviations should appear at the beginning of the document, just after the table of contents. The list should also be included in your table of contents.

If you only use a few abbreviations, you don’t need to include a list—follow the guidance below on how to define abbreviations within the text.

Example list of abbreviations

list of abbreviations dissertation

Using abbreviations and acronyms

There are many rules about using abbreviations in a dissertation. When you use acronyms—formed using the first letter of each word in a phrase—you should write the first occurrence of phrase in full, and place the abbreviation in parentheses immediately after it. Then you can use the acronym throughout the rest of the text.

Example of acronyms in a dissertation

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.

The exceptions to this rule are extremely common acronyms that replace the phrase in everyday use (such as USA, PC or NASA). If in doubt, however, write out the phrase in full.

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Abbreviations in APA

If you are using APA style, there are additional specific requirements for the use of abbreviations in your dissertation.

Other lists in your dissertation

As well as the list of abbreviations, you can also use a list of tables and figures and a glossary. Include your lists in the following order:

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Michelle Mertens

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January 16, 2021 at 4:06 PM

Hi! Is it recommended in a thesis that has multiple 'categories' of abbreviations to list each category separately, or is it better to use alphabetical order for the full list regardless of grouping?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
January 26, 2021 at 2:31 PM

In general, it's best to just go with one list for all your abbreviations. None of the main style guides we cover on the site (APA, MLA, Chicago) suggest dividing the list into categories.


November 1, 2020 at 9:20 AM

If you use a List of Abbreviations, do you still need to introduce the abbreviation in the text or is the list sufficient?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
November 5, 2020 at 11:22 AM


There is no universal rule about this, but in general, it's a good idea to also introduce the abbreviations the first time you use them in the text. The easier you make it for your reader, the better! If you're unsure, though, it's best to consult with your supervisor.

Hope that helps!


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