Abbreviations are primarily used for titles and names. Whenever used for titles, it is important to remember that the name of the person must follow the title in order to abbreviate it. For title abbreviations periods are used at the end of the abbreviation to denote that it is an abbreviated word such as Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc. For names like John F. Kennedy (shortened to JFK), the period is not needed as the initials of JFK are so recognizable that people understand that it is an abbreviation.
We use abbreviations on a daily basis, but it’s important to know when you can and can’t use abbreviations, so we’re going to look at some examples of times when it is okay to abbreviate. Titles before names are okay to abbreviate like Mr., Mrs., Dr., and Prof. Just make sure you put a period after the letters, and then you can insert this abbreviation before the person’s name. Now if you found the abbreviation, or you would not use the abbreviation “doctor” or “professor” if in the middle of a sentence. Like, if you said, “I saw my doctor,” you would write out the word “doctor,” not just abbreviate it. But if you actually were talking about seeing your doctor, and there was a name attached to the abbreviation “doctor,” then it’s okay to use the abbreviation. Like, “I saw Dr. Smith.” So basically, the rule is there, if there’s a name attached to the word “doctor,” it’s okay to use the abbreviation. But if there’s no name attached to “doctor,” then you should not use the abbreviation. Alright, there’s other things we can also abbreviate, like the names of countries that are very common, like the USA. And you notice here we’re using it without periods because the abbreviation is so common, but when you use the abbreviation U.S., it’s good to put periods. There’s other things that we come in contact with daily that we have abbreviations for and the abbreviations are so common that we really don’t need periods in between the letters. Like DVD. Because that’s used to common, we don’t need periods in between it. Or LBJ. Because that’s a famous person, we don’t need periods in between. Now there also are postal abbreviations for states. Like you think about New York. The postal abbreviation is NY. Louisiana’s is LA, and Alaska’s is AK. And you don’t need to put periods after each letter here. So use postal codes when appropriate, either in non-formal writing or on the front of envelopes. There’s also other state abbreviations that are a little bit longer. Like Pennsylvania has a postal abbreviation, but then it also has the longer, four-letter abbreviation of Penn. Or Montana’s would be Mont. So you need periods after those abbreviations. And there’s really not much use for these because you don’t put them on the front of letters, so jut use these in informal writing. So there’s not really any kind of rules that I could give you on when you need to put periods in between the letters of abbreviations and when you don’t need to. It’s really up to you and just your discernment as to whether or not this is a very common abbreviation or whether it’s not a very common abbreviation.
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Last updated: 12/15/2017
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