Blog - Proofreading and Copy Editing

Full stop? Or not?

Is Mr. and Mrs. acceptable or not?

No… this is not a posting on the merits of marriage! It’s about the full stop at the end of ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.’. Do we need it? There are other examples too, of course… there’s Dr. and Revd. And what about Ms (or Ms.)?

Like the merits of marriage, there is differing opinion on the subject. Some prefer the full stop and some do not. Generally, in UK English, the full stop will be dropped if the abbreviation includes the first and last letters of the name. So Mr is ok as it means ‘Mister’. Mrs actually means ‘missus’ in the modern sense, but again Mrs seems reasonable. As do Dr and Revd. And then there’s ‘Ms’ to consider – it’s not an abbreviation as such, but a combination of Mrs (or Mrs.) and Miss. So ‘Ms’ is reasonable.

But US English, as in many cases with English spellings, disagrees, and generally goes with Mr., Mrs., Dr., or Revd. with a full stop (well, a period in their case!). They generally add it to ‘Ms.’ too.

And what about a person’s initials? Again, opinion varies. Some favour a full stop and some don’t. So there are a number of combinations possible:

Mr J Smith

Mr. J Smith

Mr. J. Smith

Mr J. Smith

So which is right? All of them really. But, as we have said before, the key is consistency. Make your decision and stick with it!

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