TO use States in the US as an example, what I do is have a look up table that has these fields:
StateID = text, like "DE," "MD," etc as PK
StateName = text, like "Delaware," "Maryland," etc.
I allow the user to pull up the abbreviation in the forms, and then when I run a report for addresses, for example, I pull the StateName column instead of the PK field. The nice thing is, even if you only have the State abbrev in the table, you can add the StateName field at any time and replace it in all your queries.
Does this help?