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1.  In formal writing, one should not use abbreviations, except as indicated in rules 2, 3, and 4 below. For example:

2.  When an abbreviation has become so common that it has supplanted the full name in common usage, one may use the abbreviation; however, one should do so without the use of periods. For example:

Incorrect: The N.A.A.C.P. was the subject of a profile on C.B.S. last week.

Correct: The NAACP was the subject of a profile on CBS last week.

However: The defendant in the case is R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc.

Notice that in the preceding example, the points after "R" and "J" should be left in, because the meaning of the abbreviation is not sufficiently well known to most readers. Ordinarily, one would replace such an abbreviation with the full terms; however, one can not do so in this case because the legal corporate name involved includes the abbreviation.

3.  When writing legal citations, always use the abbreviations required by the Bluebook. However, when referring to a court in text, do not abbreviate. For example:

Incorrect: The Ill. Supreme Court required the return of the child to his birth mother. Smithson v. Bettaglia, 59 Illinois 2d 73, 180 Northeast Reporter 2d 754 (1994).

Correct: The Illinois Supreme Court required the return of the child to his birth mother. Smithson v. Bettaglia, 59 Ill. 2d 73, 180 N.E.2d 754 (1994).

    4.  When referring to a corporate entity that has one or more abbreviations as part of its legal name, such as R.J. Reynolds Industries, Inc., leave the abbreviations in the name. Do not spell out the abbreviation unless the corporation itself spells it out, which some do (for example, Exxon Shipping Company). This rule applies to all of the various forms of corporate designations, including Co., Corp., Inc., and Ltd.
Incorrect: McDermott International, Incorporated

Correct: McDermott International, Inc.

Cross References: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation § 6 (15th ed. 1991).

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