Science and UEB Blood Types and Traits

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    Melissa Klepper

    I am so confused. I recently attended the NBA conference and participated in a workshop Measurements and Abbreviations. I discovered that DNA, RNA, etc, do not require us to use switch indicators. (because they are abbreviations).

    I am working on a science test with lots of references to blood types. Do I use the switch indicators for blood types?


    Human blood types A, B, AB, and O are determined by ..... and is heterozygous (AO) ....

    Further in the test I have a table with different traits:


    TB   TTBB  TTBb  TtBB  TtBb

    Tb  TTBb  TTbb   TtBb  Ttbb


    Would I switch for this whole table?

    Last example:

    Look at the Punnett square.


    R = Round

    r = wrinkled

    Y = yellow

    y = green


    Yr  YYRr  YYrr  YyRr  Yyrr

    What do these types of things fall under? Do they qualify as abbreviations? They are not variables according to my understanding.

    To me they are kinda like Vitamin A, Vitamin B etc...

    Can you please help me make heads or tails of this? Switch or leave in UEB?






    Thank you for the question.

    First, for now our Guidance does not provide explicit direction for letters that represent blood types or genetic traits.

    You are right that the As, Bs, & Os of blood type and the lowercase and capital letters of Punnet squares (which represent combinations of alleles to make genotypes) are not variables. They aren't abbreviations either. They aren't even points on a graph. What are they? The letters that make up a blood type's or a genotype's "name" stand for discrete antigens or alleles. Antigens and alleles are chemical "bits" that are part of, respectively, a blood cell or a string of DNA. So, the letters we're talking about here are similar to chemical symbols for elements (e.g., O for Oxygen, H for Hydrogen, etc.).

    Do you have to transcribe the letters of blood types or genotypes within Nemeth switch indicators? I would say no. Mathematical operation is not denoted by the combination of letters representing a blood type or genotype, and the combination of letters will be easily read in either code.

    Could you transcribe blood types and genotypes within Nemeth switch indicators? Yes, you could make an argument for transcribing any letter that represents an antigen or allele within switch indicators. But I would not make that argument.

    In order to make blood types and genotypes readable, the letters of which they are made up should be individually capitalized in UEB and in Nemeth Code.

    Last, because of a technicality, I believe part of your last example must be transcribed in Nemeth Code. Because the key includes equals signs, the letters and words that are connected/compared by those equals signs must be transcribed within Nemeth switch indicators, as part of an equation.

    Rock on, and braille on!

    Melissa Klepper

    Thank so much for the thought-out thorough answer. I think I get it now!!! (Until I run across the next thing that boggles my mind).

    Cheers and Happy Holidays!


    Please see the [upcoming] Fall 2021 Bulletin article for a change of position on this issue.

    In short, a series of letters that is not an abbreviation should be in Nemeth Code.
    So,  non-abbreviation series like those in “blood type AB” or “genotype Yy” should be transcribed in Nemeth Code.

    This is in line with the spirit of #6 under Additional Guidelines in the Guidance for Transcription Using the Nemeth Code within UEB Contexts, which says, "A series of two or more letters (not abbreviations) identifying geometric shapes or figures is transcribed in Nemeth Code and capitalized individually if needed. (e.g. Triangle ABC, line EF). The name of the figure is not included within the switches. A single letter identifying a shape or figure may be transcribed in UEB. (e.g. Circle O)."


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