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1.14 Scientific and technical terms

There is a vast array of technical and scientific abbreviations such as those for mathematical ratios and operations, physical quantities and constants or statistical formulas and notations. Most unabridged dictionaries list such abbreviations. People working in specific disciplines should consult the appropriate manuals in their field.1

In biology, the Latin name for a genus is not abbreviated if used alone. When used with the species name, it is abbreviated as of the second reference. The species name is not abbreviated:

  • Clematis (genus)
  • Clematis virginiana (full scientific name at first reference)
  • C. virginiana (second and subsequent references)

In symbols for chemical elements, compounds and formulas, use subscript, not superscript, numerals, e.g. H2SO4, SO2.


  • Back to the note1 For a comprehensive list of such abbreviations, see ABBR: Abbreviations for Scientific and Engineering Terms.