To enhance the conciseness and readability of a manuscript, it is common practice to employ abbreviated forms of phrases. However, particularly for authors immersed in specialised fields where certain abbreviations are common, the clarification of these abbreviations is often overlooked. Furthermore, an abbreviation well-known in one domain may carry a different meaning or be unfamiliar in another.

As a general guideline, define abbreviations at their first mention in the each section of the paper: the title, summary, key terms, main text, captions and legends of tables and figures – each usage demands a corresponding definition. Notably, many journals discourage the use of abbreviations in titles and abstracts.

Some journals include a list of abbreviations, especially for those used three or more times within the manuscript. When employing abbreviations, pay attention to specific usage, including capitalisation, spelling and periods. Additionally, each journal may impose its own set of requirements: consult the instructions for authors.

Avoid using abbreviations for single words, for example SCZ for schizophrenia, or for terms that are used not more than three times in the paper.

In long lists of abbreviations, preferably separate individual items by semicolons (;); these are intermediate between commas and full stops.

Avoid abbreviations in the abstract.