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Acronyms extraction software

Greetings, fellow technical communicators,

I work on avionics documentation that includes many acronyms/abbreviations/initialisms (all of which we shall refer to herein as "acronyms"). In each document, these terms must be aggregated into a list of two columns, one showing the term and the other providing the definition. Currently, hundreds of engineers documenting their work in Microsoft Word collectively spend thousands of hours annually compiling these lists by hand, as it were. Some are conscientious at this task, others not so much. We wish to automate this tedious and error-ridden process, and so I am investigating possible solutions.

I have tested Lene Fredborg’s nifty (and free) DocTools ExtractData add-in, which is a collection of four Word macros, one of which extracts and lists acronyms and page number of first occurrence. While helpful, this add-in does not extract two-letter acronyms, nor does it list definitions.

Acronyms Master software extracts acronyms of two letters or more, extracts definitions, lists the page number of first occurrence, highlights the first appearance of a term, builds customizable databases of terms, does blacklisting and whitelisting, and more. Acronyms Master seems to be the only software product dedicated to extracting acronyms. The provider’s website says they “have no direct competition,” which appears to be the case.

PerfectIt Pro editing software has an acronym list-generation component that gets mixed/poor reviews. PerfectIt Pro costs more than Acronyms Master.

Using existing VBA macros other than ExtractData or creating new ones is another approach, but Acronyms Master provides more useful functionality in a ready-to-go package.

Questions: How do you all handle the task of compiling acronym lists? If you use an automated process, what might that be? If you have used Acronyms Master, would you recommend it? Are you aware of any software alternatives to Acronyms Master?

Thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Michael Hyatt
Technical Writer and Editor
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