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Acronyms are words created from the initial letters of the words in a phrase. For example, NATO means North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They differ from initialisms in that acronyms are pronounced as they are spelled, e.g. NATO (IPA: /ˈneɪtəʊ/ (UK), IPA: /ˈneɪtoʊ/ (US)), whereas initialisms are pronounced as their component initials, e.g. FBI (IPA: /ˌɛf.biˈɑɪ/). Items that are both, or have some letters pronounced individually with the rest as a word-sound (e.g. JPEG), should be included in both categories to avoid ambiguity.
Some references do not differentiate between acronyms and initialisms, instead labelling them all acronyms.
Acronyms are typically styled in all-uppercase (all-caps), unless they have linguistically taken on an identity as regular words, with their derivations fading into the background, such as the words scuba and radar have done.
Some publishers choose to use cap/lowercase (c/lc) styling for acronyms, reserving all-caps styling for initialisms; thus Nato and Aids, but USA and FBI. (For example, BBC News typically edits to this style.) The logic of this style is that the pronunciation is reflected graphically by the capitalization scheme.
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