Analytical methods and reagents

This section covers:

Analytical methods

Use lower case for all terms except proper nouns. Give the full name of the method the first time it is used (after which the acronym can be used):

capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE)

electrokinetic capillary chromatography (ECC) [Note: do not abbreviate to EKCC]

enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)

gas chromatography (GC)

gas–liquid chromatography (GLC) [Note: Use an en dash]

high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)

polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS)

reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) [Note: The same acronym is often used for a different method called real-time PCR, so take great care with these terms. Real-time PCR is also called quantitative PCR (abbreviated as qPCR).]

solid-phase extraction (SPE)

Suzuki coupling

Some names include an acronym rather than the full name:

RAFT polymerisation [an Australian technology]

For compound chromatographic methods, the full term is joined with an en dash or with, but the acronym is joined with a hyphen:

gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS)

gas chromatography with atomic emission detection (GC-AED)

inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Some journals assume reader knowledge of these types of terms, which therefore do not have to be spelt out at first use (see Very well known acronyms and initialisms).

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The names of some laboratory reagents are based on proper nouns and have initial capitals:

Coomassie blue stain     Grignard reagent     Freund adjuvant

Do not use initial capitals for terms with no proper nouns:

bromophenol blue     dextran     dimethylsulfide

A range of laboratory products used in chromatography and other analytical methods are brand names and have initial capitals:

Florisil     Sephadex     Ficoll

The same rule applies, strictly, to other proprietary names (eg Polaroid, Vaseline, Parafilm), but many of these names have been assimilated into general use, and the initial capital has been dropped. Be careful of any possible infringement of trademark status when using such terms, and capitalise appropriately (and consistently). Be guided by the dictionary. See Brand names and trademarks.

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