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Best Practice

What is First-Referencing and Why is it Important?

Using terms consistently within a document is of tremendous benefit and value to your audience (and ultimately to you). Always referring to, for example, rocks as rocks instead of stones, large pebbles, or aggregate keeps your audience focused on what you are saying instead of trying to interpret the new term and determine if it means something other than "rocks." A consistent use of terms promotes a solid understanding of the material you are presenting. This is the basic principle that we'll be applying to the practice of first referencing.

First reference

All industries have their standard acronyms, and it is appropriate to use acronyms when presenting. But is not appropriate to assume that everyone in the audience understands what the acronyms mean. The first time it appears on screen, the term should be spelled out followed by the acronym in parentheses. Example: First Referencers of America (FRoA). From that point on, always and only refer to First Referencers of America as FRoA. Resist the urge to "change things up" or "add a little variety." Be consistent so that your audience will follow your meaning easily and accurately. This seems like a very small thing, but helping your audience keep up with you benefits you both.