When writing papers, it is usual to use acronyms. Generally, acronyms have to be expanded on first use, can be expanded as part of a list of acronyms, or both. It would be terrific if LibreOffice Writer would let users define acronyms and automagically deal with formatting them, either by expanded the first occurrence or creating a list of acronyms (much like a table of content can be automatically generated by LO). The reason this feature would be valuable is that when working on long documents, keeping track of the acronyms used and whether its the first time you used them is a tremendous pain. Apparently, others believe this feature would be useful: http://ask.libreoffice.org/en/question/3878/automatic-list-of-acronyms/
Specifically, here is how I propose this could be implemented from an interface point of view:
1/ User types a word, e.g. "DNA"
2/ User right clicks on the word to access a contextual menu where the acronym can be defined, e.g. "deoxyribonucleic acid". Note that this contextual menu should be accessible even if the word is not all upper-case because not all acronyms are upper-case (e.g. see "amphetamine" acronym on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym). As a bonus, the acronym should probably be added to the dictionary or simply registered to avoid it being recognized as a spelling mistake.
3/ From now on, LO should recognize "AMA" as an acronym every time it is typed (internally, maybe this word should become a dynamic field?).
4/ User types more until document is finished.
5/ At the end, user goes to menu Insert > Indexes and Tables > Acronyms and decide how to format acronyms: "expand on first use" and/or "table of acronyms" (alphabetically sorted)
6/ If users decides to move text around in the document, LO should automatically update it to ensure that any acronym is expanded only the first time it is encountered.
Here is some sample text (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA/RNA_non-specific_endonuclease) without acronym expansion:
"In molecular biology, enzymes in the DNA/RNA non-specific endonuclease family of bacterial and eukaryotic endonucleases EC 3.1.30.- share the following characteristics: they act on both DNA and RNA, cleave double-stranded and single-stranded nucleic acids and require a divalent ion such as magnesium for their activity"
The same text with list of acronyms:
"List of acronyms:
DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid
RNA: ribonucleic acid
EC: enzyme commission
In molecular biology, enzymes in the DNA/RNA non-specific endonuclease family of bacterial and eukaryotic endonucleases EC 3.1.30.- share the following characteristics: they act on both DNA and RNA, cleave double-stranded and single-stranded nucleic acids and require a divalent ion such as magnesium for their activity"
With expansion on first occurrence:
"In molecular biology, enzymes in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)/riboxynucleic acid (RNA) non-specific endonuclease family of bacterial and eukaryotic endonucleases enzyme commission (EC) 3.1.30.- share the following characteristics: they act on both DNA and RNA, cleave double-stranded and single-stranded nucleic acids and require a divalent ion such as magnesium for their activity"
With expansion on first occurrence and list of acronyms:
"List of acronyms:
DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid
RNA: ribonucleic acid
EC: enzyme commission
In molecular biology, enzymes in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)/riboxynucleic acid (RNA) non-specific endonuclease family of bacterial and eukaryotic endonucleases enzyme commission (EC) 3.1.30.- share the following characteristics: they act on both DNA and RNA, cleave double-stranded and single-stranded nucleic acids and require a divalent ion such as magnesium for their activity"
PS/ Apparently, there is an acronym tool in MS Word 2010: http://blogs.office.com/b/office_blog/archive/2010/05/20/new-accessibility-tools-in-word-2010-day-7-of-10-mvps-on-office-2010.aspx. It seems capable of defining acronyms but not of automatically formatting them within a document.
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Version: 18.104.22.168 release
Is the replacement table not enough for this? While you do have to write out the full name the first time - after this you can auto replace instances easily.
Just wondering how this would be different from the replacement table other than the first instance being fully written out.
Joel, thanks for your input. The replacement table (https://help.libreoffice.org/Common/Replace#Replacement_table) can help to some extent. Its major limitations for this use would be that:
1/ The acronym expansion is not systematic. In the "expand on first use" case, only the first instance of the acronym should be expanded.
2/ In the "table of acronyms" case, one would still have to gather and list all the acronyms manually, something tedious and error-prone.
I'm convinced. Valid request - although when it'll get done - with enhancements it's really a toss up.
Thank you Joel.
I just thought about an additional consideration. When an acronym has been defined but used only once in a document, it does not really make sense to even use an acronym. As a consequence:
* In the "expand on first use" scenario, only the expansion of the acronym should appear in the document, e.g. "deoxyribonucleic acid" and not "deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)"
* In the "table of acronyms" scenario, the acronym should not even appear at all.
Typically, all the acronyms I use in a document are marked as a spelling mistake, which is annoying. Hopefully, with the implementation of acronym management, one would be able to tell the spelling tool to ignore acronyms.
An additional feature of acronym management that would be useful is to have a mouse over expansion for defined Acronyms.
The two use cases are:
1. Reader forgets acronym meaning and hovers mose to find out.
2. When half way through a document you find an acronym that has no mouse over expansn you know it needs a definition so can right click, search (web/dictionary) for meaning and add result as acronym definition.
This system would be very helpful. Another possible addition could be to automatically list possible acronyms that yet have to get inserted to the index. This could be based on capital writing (DNA) or short words that aren't recognized by the spell checker.
Adding needsUXEval to have input from UX team.
I'm in favor of an acronym table. It seems that's useful e.g. for scientists.
Sounds to me like an interesting enhancement but not inbuilt function.
It depends on the writing style, the target audience, and dictionaries what and how to abbreviate. For example, APA allows words contained in Merriam-Webster such as DNA as exception to the rules that acronyms always have to be fully spelled first. Haven't found an example but could imagine that foot/endnotes are used to explain acronyms. Hard to believe LibreOffice can maintain these rules.
The replacement table sounds wrong to me. You _always_ replace "A" by "B" but the first acronyms should be "A (B)" followed by "B" (and only in case you have "B" in the text, btw.). Sounds more like a task for fields.
Adding support for identifying the expanded form of abbreviations or acronyms is not simply an issue of supporting authoring guidelines such as APA, it is also better for accessibility. See for example Success Criterion 3.1.4 in the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/#abbreviations
I am not certain how this should be implemented in LibreOffice, since there seems to be no element for abbreviations or acronyms in ODF 1.3, which OASIS released in April 2021. (Check Part 3 of the standard: https://docs.oasis-open.org/office/OpenDocument/v1.3/os/part3-schema/OpenDocument-v1.3-os-part3-schema.html )
In spite of this, some inspiration might perhaps be drawn from an OpenOffice add-on that Vincent Spiewak wrote in 2010 (in Java). See "OOo Acronym Abbreviation Addon" on SourceForge (last updated in 2013 and presumably no longer being developed): https://sourceforge.net/p/ooo-aaa/code/HEAD/tree/
So to summarize, the field should:
1) Hold information about the two forms (long and short)
2) Have user defined formats (first/expanded with acronym, only/expanded without acronym, following/short) to be independent on the authoring guidelines
3) Have options to disable the "only" form, that is to define the acronym even when there is only one usage, and to show the acronym in the Acronym table even when there is only one usage of the acronym
Does that sounds about right? However I'm not sure if it is necessary to have these options for every single acronym, or whether global options (one set of the three formats and two toggles for all acronyms) would be enough, do you have any ideas on that? Are there perhaps some guidelines where you have to use different parentheses based on some condition, such as the area of expertise the acronym belongs to? If it turns out to be necessity for someone, redoing it would be a serious headache, I think.
When this is implemented, I think it would make sense to just have some way to quickly replace text with a field when known acronym is written by the user, probably through a right click UNO command and optional keyboard shortcut?
Ah, yes, I forgot about the DNA case (acronyms that shouldn't be expanded). In that case the options probably should be per acronym? However it might be possible to optimize the storage space by defining the option sets at the beginning of the document and then refering to them (just to save space, the user would never see this).