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February 1970


Author Affiliations

Chief Resident in Dermatology Yale University School of Medicine 333 Cedar St New Haven, Conn 06504

Arch Dermatol. 1970;101(2):250. doi:10.1001/archderm.1970.04000020120019

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To the Editor.—  The substitution of abbreviations for cumbersome terms can make communication concise and perceptible, but not necessarily. In the September issue of the Archives, the first article uses the abbreviation "TCA" for triamcinolone acetonide. Most people knowledgeable of chemistry and probably all dermatologists would immediately tell you that TCA is an old, widely accepted abbreviation for trichloroacetic acid. In reading this article, triamcinolone acetonide could have been instantly perceived, whereas the abbreviation TCA became meaningless and caused mental confusion every time it was encountered. Not only in the case of TCA but, when I am trying to read an article, an unfamiliar term four words long is more rapidly perceived than an unfamiliar and meaningless abbreviation.I picked TCA as an example of this problem because it is so obviously inappropriately used. No abbreviation should be used in scientific writing unless it has an accepted and undisputed wide

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