Periods after abbreviations

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Jun 28 21:38:37 UTC 2004

On Jun 28, 2004, at 11:13 AM, Damien Hall wrote:

> Jesse Sheidlower's signoff in his most recent message -
> 'Jesse Sheidlower, who thinks that "Ms" should not have a
> period'
> - has inspired me to ask about the following.  I think it
> may be a simple transatlantic difference, but I'd be interested to
> know what
> others think.
> For me, prescriptively, if I might be so bold, no abbreviation should
> have a
> period after it unless that period actually replaces letters, so
> correct forms
> are:
> Ms
> Mr
> Dr
> Mrs
> Miss

whoa!  you put that last one  in just to make sure we were reading,
right?  "Miss" doesn't need a period, for anybody.

otherwise, the system you report is standard formal british (and
french: "Mlle", "Mme", but "M.").  standard formal american uses a
period if letters are left out (except for initialisms, acronyms,
clippings pronounced in short form, etc.).

in any case, Ms. Magazine seems to like its period.  but of course it's

maybe jesse has been hanging out with those oxford folks too long...

(and, yes, as tom kysilko points out, in lots of modern contexts *all*
punctuation marks, including apostrophes as well as periods, but
especially periods. are omitted.)

arnold (zwicky at

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