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I write a scientific text where I use my own acronyms as it is required by a publisher for saving word counts (I think). I have a problem with articles. Should I use them before the acronyms or should I omit them? I tried to find the rule but it is not clear for me. (I use British English, it seems it is different in American English but I'm not sure.)

I write:
Moving charges produce a magnetic field (MF)...
... MF from a cable can be read by a magnetic sensor.

To estimate the position the Kalman Filter algorithm (KF) can be used.
... KF shows good performance...

The surveyor platforms (SPs) move along the cable.
... When SP moves towards the utility ... - (Only one platform moves)

Is there any solid rule for such cases?

  • Possibly belonging to writers.se? – Jerry May 23 '13 at 10:14
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    I would use an article when the abbreviated acronym is singular, and omit it when it's plural. In other words, A magnetic field (MF) is produced by moving charges, or, Magnetic fields (MFs) are produced by moving charges. – J.R. May 23 '13 at 10:57
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    @J.R.: I like so totally agree, dude. That's exactly how I do it when I edit biomedical papers. Eg: "To estimate position, a {Kalman Filter (KF) algorithm / Kalman Filter algorithm (KFa)} can be used. The KFa performs well." Scientific text is so bloated. tomasz47: Try hard to eliminate unnecessary words. Murder verbosity! Write more simply & clearly! Be logical: science is. Learn to value simplicity & clarity. – user264 May 23 '13 at 12:08
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The 'rule' would be that you treat the acronym exactly like any other noun. If in any given sentence the full form requires a determiner, then the abbreviation does, too.

... magnetic field (MF) ... (first instance)
The magnetic field from a cable can be read by a magnetic sensor.
The MF from a cable can be read by a magnetic sensor.

... Kalman Filter (KF) ... or ... Kalman Filter algorithm (KFa) ... (first instances)
The Kalman Filter algorithm exhibits good performance.
The KF algorithm exhibits good performance.
The KFa exhibits good performance.

... surveyor platform (SP) ... (first instance)
When a surveyor platform moves towards the utility ...
When an SP moves towards the utility ... (note an instead of a here, because SP would be pronounced 'ess-pee')

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