You are most probably already familiar with using Acronyms as a memory aid. An Acronym is a word formed from the first or first few letters of several words. For example, NATO is an Acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Acronym is spoken as a word, rather than a series of letters each with its own pronunciation. Here are some more examples.

JPEG – Joint Photographic Experts Group

RADAR Radio – Detection And Ranging

SCUBA  -Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

UNICEF – United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund

WHO – World Health Organization

Using acronyms for memory improvement

Extended Acronyms

One popular form of Acronym is when a sentence or verse is created from the first letter of each word to help us remember certain pieces of information in sequence. This is known as an Extended Acronym. For example, to remember the colours of the spectrum – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet – British readers will find the following ditty familiar.


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EXERCISE: Extended Acronyms

Take a look at the following two examples of Extended Acronyms

Sergeant Major Hates Eating Onions
Great lakes of North America:
Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario

Help Five Policemen To Find Ten Missing Prisoners
Bones of the lower limb:
Hip, Femur, Patella, Tibia, Fibula, Tarsals, Metatarsals, Phalanges

Now see if you can memorize the following two sets of data by creating your own Extended Acronyms. Be imaginative and use exaggeration and humour to make your own Acronyms memorable.

Volts = Amps x Resistance (Ohm’s Law):
Hint: Make a saying from the three letters V,A and R.

Order of the nine planets from the sun:
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

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Hint: Again, make a saying from the first letters of each planet in order.