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What is the proper abbreviation for not applicable?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by TheRacingLine, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. TheRacingLine Junior Member

    United States
    Spanish - Colombia
    I've seen n/a, N/A, NA, etc.

    According to the Wikipedia article entitled "Manual of Style (abbreviations)", N/A is the only one that is proper; however, according to the Wikipedia article entitled "n/a" ("Not applicable" redirects to "n/a"), all of the other forms are also acceptable.

    Thank you.
     
  2. daviesri Senior Member

    Houston, TX
    USA English
    The problem here is that "Wiki" items are open source where anyone can enter whatever they want including their opinion. There is quite a bit of good and acurate information to be found there, as well as a bunch of inacurate information.

    In my daughter high school they are not allowed to use anything 'Wiki" as a valid source for research information because most things are not validated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011
  3. Miss Julie

    Miss Julie Senior Member

    Chicago metro area
    English-U.S.
    I've seen all three examples of that abbreviation. They are all acceptable; I wouldn't worry too much about it.
     
  4. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    This is the manual of style specific to Wikipedia articles, i.e. it may well contain good advice that has been gathered from various places but it is by no means authoritative for any other context than authoring articles to be published in Wikipedia.
     
  5. Waylink Senior Member

    English (British)
    Besides the lack of consistency in the use of an abbreviation for 'not applicable', there is also an important ambiguity arising from the same abbreviations being used for 'not applicable' and for 'not available'.
     
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In my experience, both N.A. and N/A are widely used.
     
  7. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I've checked the section in question but couldn't find any support for that.

    The article says that "a slash is used to indicate the abbreviation of lowercase words." And that "NA is an initialism which carries the same meaning [as n/a]. A slash is not used in an initialism or acronym. However, the derivative form N/A is in common use."

    Considerations:

    A slash in "n/a" makes sense because it prevents readers from trying to read "na" as a word and interpreting it perhaps as a misspelling of "no".

    With uppercase letters, the tendency is to expect them to represent an initialism providing the table has lowercase letters for regular words. However, if regular words are written in uppercase, then I think it makes sense to use "the derivative form" - N/A - so as to avoid misinterpretation of "NA" as "NO".
     

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