Q. I am seeing everywhere now that people are putting acronyms in parentheses instead of words, as in “Food and Drug Administration (FDA)” versus “FDA (Food and Drug Administration).” Can you explain to me why this is becoming more common? Parentheses have always been intended for additional information or words of further explanation, which is the opposite of an acronym. It just seems so backwards to me, and if you’re searching for what the acronym stands for, it’s hard to find because the acronym is in the parentheses and used from then on. Please help me understand the logic people are following with this style.

A. It makes sense to put the abbreviation first when the abbreviation is the better-known term—as is arguably the case for the FDA. But there’s no rule against putting the abbreviation in parentheses. In fact, when you introduce an abbreviation primarily as a space-saving device, the convention is to put the abbreviation in parentheses the first time it appears. For example,

According to the Abbreviation Appreciation Society (AAS) . . .

which is shorthand for

According to the Abbreviation Appreciation Society (which we’ll hereinafter refer to as AAS for the sake of convenience) . . .

And though it’s true that you lose a bit of clarity through abbreviation, there are a couple of strategies that can help readers. First, consider reintroducing the spelled-out term alongside the abbreviation in each new chapter or other major division in which it appears. And if your text features many otherwise unfamiliar abbreviations, consider adding a list as described in CMOS 1.44.