Full Stops (Periods) in Contractions

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Should you write Mr Smith or Mr. Smith?
Should you write Dr Jones or Dr. Jones?

If you're following US convention, put a period (full stop ) after your contraction.

If you're following UK convention, you have a choice whether to use a full stop (period) or not.

Here's a useful guideline for Brits:

If the last letter of a contraction is the same as the last letter of the whole word, then don't use a full stop (period). For example:
  • Mister > Mr
  • (The last letters are the same.)
  • Professor > Prof.
  • (The last letters are different.)

Full Stops (Periods) in Contractions

For those following US conventions:

If you have a contraction which is a compressed version of a word (i.e., not the kind with an apostrophe like can't, isn't), then put a period after it.

Examples:
  • Mr. (contraction of Mister)
  • Revd. (contraction of Reverend)
  • Rev. (also a contraction of Reverend)
  • para. (contraction of paragraph)
  • Dr. (contraction of Doctor)
  • The theory is supported by Prof. Munro and Mr Jones.
  • (This should be Mr. Jones under US convention.)

Full Stops (Periods) in Contractions

For those following UK conventions:

As a useful guideline, only use a full stop (period) at the end of a contraction if its last letter is different from the last letter of the whole word. (This is not a definitive rule. In fact, there is no definitive rule. However, it is a useful guideline to help you make a decision on whether to use a full stop/period in your contraction.)

Examples:
  • Mr (contraction of Mister)
  • Revd (contraction of Reverend)
  • Rev. (also a contraction of Reverend)
  • para. (contraction of paragraph)
  • paras (contraction of paragraphs)
  • Dr. (contraction of Doctor)
  • (This is not wrong, but it doesn't follow the guideline being explained. As r is the last letter of Dr and Doctor, there is no need for the full stop.)
  • para (contraction of paragraph)
  • (A full stop is required under UK convention because the last letters of para and paragraph are different.)
  • The theory is supported by Prof. Munro and Mr Jones.
  • (As r is the last letter of Mr and Mister, there is no need for the full stop. This would be wrong under US convention.)
 
 

What Is a Contraction?

A contraction is a cut-down version of a word. There are two types:

Contractions with Apostrophes Here are examples of contractions with apostrophes:
  • can't (contraction of cannot)
  • isn't (contraction of is not)
  • don't (a contraction of do not)
Contractions without Apostrophes Here are examples of contractions without apostrophes:
  • Mr. (contraction of Mister)
  • Revd. (contraction of Reverend)
  • para. (a contraction of paragraph)
This lesson is about using full stops/periods with contractions without apostrophes.

Read more about contractions.


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