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Acronyms are, strictly speaking, only collections of initials that form a word, which means that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is one, but the Financial Services Authority (FSA) isn’t. Nonetheless, the word has come to be used for all collections of initials, of which there is now a shockingly large quantity. The way to deal with them is to give the name in full the first time you use it, with the shortened version in brackets afterwards – as demonstrated above.
Do not put points between the letters in an abbreviation – i.e. don’t write F.S.A.. The only exceptions are i.e. and e.g., which are more difficult to read without the points.
And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you should use capitals for the first letters of expressions just because the abbreviation is capitalised: “annual percentage rate” should be lower case, even though “APR” is upper. All abbreviations made from initials use upper-case letters, except for measures (kg, mph, etc.), i.e. and e.g.
Full stops are also used to mark abbreviations (such as etc.) when they don’t end with the same letter as the full word. You would write “Prof. Smith” (for a professor), but “Dr Jones” (for a doctor). Make sure you avoid the American convention of putting a point after “Dr” and “Mr”.
Finally, when referring to an organisation by its initials use “the” if you would use it with the full name. So, write “the FSA”, “the OFT”, but “your local CAB”.
For whether to use ‘a’ or ‘an’ with an abbreviation, see the entry on ‘an’.