As we know, "Theorem" is abbreviated with "Thm." and "Abbildung" with "Abb." in German textbooks.

The context is terrific sentences such as "In Lemmata 5.2.11 - 5.2.19 und Eigenschaft 5.3.20 bereiten wir unter Berücksichtigung von Textkästen 1.2.8-1.2.11 die Grundlagen für Thm. 6.3.7 vor."

How to abbreviate the following words in such contexts?

  • Abbildungen
  • Abschnitte
  • Beispiele
  • Definitionen
  • Gleichungen
  • Übungen
  • Eigenschaft, Eigenschaften
  • Lemma, Lemmata
  • Textkasten, Textkästen
  • 3
    To all 5 "off topic for general reference" voters: at least one of you might know which general reference book gives your fellow user an answer to this question here. For my part I am only aware of a dictionary that tells us what an abbreviation means but not the other way round. It was not really helpful to not give us at least a hint which dictionary was meant but simply vote to close and go away. Such a hint may also be a valid answer here. I believe the question may be too broad but in this specific case it is not off topic.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 6:14
  • 1
    We are quite good in answering questions on a single issue, where a "best" answer can evolve by community votes. In this case where we are asked for several abbreviations the question is not such a good fit for this format. Please try to narrow down your issue to make such an answer possible. Also see tour and help center for more information.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 6:25
  • 1
    Your context doesn't show a single abbreviation - so, what's the context? If you have a number to refer to, you can refer to that number only without the text (and with no abbreviation at all), provided you got the numbering right. To me, it's not clear what you are asking.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 6:40
  • 2
    Obviously you are talking about books and papers about mathematics (Gleichungen, Lemma). So, why don't you look into a German maths book and search for the Abkürzungsverzeichnis? Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 6:44
  • Der Duden gibt sehr gebräuchliche Abkürzungen an, z.B. duden.de/rechtschreibung/Abbildung Abkürzung: Abb., es gibt aber auch auf Abkürzungen spezialisierte Websuchen abkürzung.info/….
    – Iris
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 9:10

3 Answers 3


I guess this is an x-y-question.

I am afraid your confusing references are caused by the non-systematic numbering in your examples. In case you have lots of references and lots of item classes to refer to, you should invest a bit more sophistication in your numbering and invent a numbering system that embraces the item class. Even if you were finding good abbreviations for all the item classes (which I doubt for the full list), it would make your document not much more readable.

If you do your numbering right (unique between classes), you can simply refer to the numbers instead of using cryptic abbreviations. In the example above, number the lemmas as L 5.2.19, the text boxes as T1.2.8, the characteristics as C6.3.7. Then it is very clear to the reader from the number already what item class you are referring to. Good math text books do it that way.

Your cryptic reference will then boil down to

In L5.2.11 - L5.2.19 bereiten wir unter Berücksichtigung von TK1.2.8-TK1.2.11 die Grundlagen für C6.3.7 vor.

Also makes it much clearer to what you are referring to, and makes the creation of indices and lists of "items" much easier to handle. Also, the references themselves will be much easier to write.

Obviously, you need to introduce your reader to your numbering system in an early paragraph.

  • One could simply number all the items stricly monotonic within one chapter, not using any classes at all. You have to follow the argueing within one chapter anyway to understand it.
    – Janka
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 10:06
  • 1
    @Janka Another way to goy, yes - I prefer my proposal, though, because an item class as part of the number makes it very clear for the reader what to look for when flipping back to the reference. With your proposal, you might arrive back at the original problem.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 11:14
  • What is an "x-y-question"? Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 7:21
  • 2
    @user49915 Personally, I find a proper numbering scheme very readable - much more than cryptic abbreviations. But might be a matter of opinion.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 7:41
  • 1
    @tofro Aha. A bit confusing. Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 7:41

Are you sure you want to use such abbreviations at all?

These abbreviations come from a time when typesetting (with lead letters) was a time-consuming task, and paper was expensive, so typesetters tended to use abbreviations for words that appeared very repetitively in a given text. Today, these problems should not any more influence the way we spell things. For the reader, in turn, it is almost always better to have the words spelled out correctly.

You may simple say:

In Abbildung 5 sehen wir Theorem 3 mit Beispiel 6 erläutert

and this sentence is in no way worse than

In Abb. 5 sehen wir Thm. 3 mit Bsp. 6 erläutert.

Especially you save yourself and your reader the hassle to maintain or study a list of abbreviations.

Reading means recognizing words by their face (like persons) or gestalt, so from this perspective full words are better than abbrevations. (Unless the abbreviation is more common than the full word, which may be the case with etc. as opposed to et cetera whose full form is only known to enthusiasts of Latin). Q.e.d.

  • If you have abbreviations, you give the typesetting engine (usually, LaTeX, MS Word, or Libreoffice) more opporunities for line breaks and get yourself more opportunities for better typesetting, making better hyphenation and less overfull or underfull lines. Reading “Abb. 5” in one line is furthermore much more pleasant than reading “Abbildung” ending the first line and “5” starting the second or even “Abbildung 5” going into the margin!
    – user49188
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 3:59

German speakers usually make no distinction between singular and plural in abbreviations. That's because we most times say

In Beispiel drei bis fünf

and usually not

In den Beispielen drei bis fünf

Beispiel → Bsp.

Übung → Ü. or Üb.

Abbildung → Abb.

Eigenschaft → no common abbreviation

Textkasten → no common abbreviation

Gleichung → Gl.

Lemma → no common abbreviation

Abschnitt → Abschn.

  • A German with style, or even a non-German with style, will look into his/her stylebook and find that abbreviations are quite often so inconveniencing to the reader that they are best left out altogether. Highly specialised usage scenarios like theology and/or math notwithstanding. If tight space is not the issue, or very high redundancy, do not abbreviate. Commented Jun 26, 2018 at 21:13
  • 3
    Ich halte "In Beispiel drei bis fünf" schlicht für falsch. Dass ich es schon häufig gesehen hätte würde ich auch bestreiten. Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 4:15
  • 1
    And that's exactly why I wrote say, and not write. Nevertheless, this affects how people abbreviate.
    – Janka
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 9:57

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