Q. I hope you can resolve a dispute between me and my editor. After introducing an acronym, e.g., “Bureau of Land Management,” to “BLM,” I like to drop the “the” in introducing it. For example, I think the least awkward way is to say “BLM is charged with the oversight of . . .” as opposed to “The BLM is . . .” Do you have any rule that covers this issue?
A. Generally, if “the” is part of the name, but not absorbed by the abbreviation, use “the” as if the abbreviation were spelled out:
The NFL comprises thirty-one teams.
NFL games rarely get postponed owing to inclement weather.
In its ninety-two years, the NAACP has been a cornerstone of American civil liberties organizations.
NAACP membership is open to all who can afford it.
Advertisers for AT&T made a splash by incorporating the wah-wah pedal into recent advertisements for high-bandwidth cable.
Do you listen to the BBC?
In other words, use “the” unless the abbreviation is used as an adjective or unless the abbreviation spelled out wouldn’t take a definite article (as is the case for American Telephone and Telegraph, though I think the company has more or less dropped the antecedent to its initials).
The BLM’s own documentation demonstrates this usage.