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I've been reading the Economist lately and they apparently don't punctuate honorifics like "Mr.", "Mrs.", e.g.

The popular rejection of Mr Mubarak offers the Middle East’s best chance for reform in decades.

I believe it's a British magazine, but is such a use proper or common in American English?

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4  
It's the Economicalist. They're saving ink. ;-) –  mickeyf Feb 8 '11 at 15:14
5  
Which is surprising, considering they're a periodical. –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '12 at 21:35

8 Answers 8

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's not too common in American English, and not strictly proper. I believe it's common in British English, and most likely perfectly proper. (I've got both American and British Harry Potter books, and the British ones leave out those periods.)

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1  
I have read John Grisham novels, published in the U.S. and the UK, and have seen the same pattern. –  rajah9 Feb 8 '11 at 21:25
    
@John Y: How does one define strictly proper in this instance? As dictated by a strict teacher a few years ago, or by Ms Rowling's American publisher's style-guide-of-the-moment? –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '12 at 21:38

In British English, these abbreviations have been in use so very long that for the most part, they are considered first-class words in their own right and thus no longer retain the full stop at all times.

It is however, not uncommon to see the full stop retained when used in an address, or a salutation. Mid-sentence is generally omitted, as the sight of a full stop cropping up in the middle of a sentence tends to cause more consternation than the omittance of a punctuation technicality.

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Do you have a reference for the claim that it's about age? I understand it to be a question of following Fowler ref –  Peter Taylor Feb 8 '11 at 12:32
    
@Peter Taylor: No reference, just experience. The general usage tends to trickle in slowly, regardless of the initial source of change. Good reference though. –  Orbling Feb 8 '11 at 12:59
    
@Orbling: Perhaps, in the UK, e.g. has enough history now to allow the dropping of one of the full stops? –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '12 at 21:40
    
@EdwinAshworth: Whilst still formally included, the middle fullstop in e.g. is very regularly omitted these days. Indeed, I am quite sure I see it absent more than present. –  Orbling Oct 29 '12 at 14:41

I read somewhere once that if the abbreviation ends with the same letter as the full word -e.g. Mister, Mistress, Doctor- then no closing full stop is necessary.
That said, N.Americans will always place one at the end of those honorifics.

[Because id est and exempli gratia are two separate words, they're properly abbreviated as i.e. and e.g..]

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Ah yes, "exempli gratia." When I taught in a community college, I told the kids it meant "thanks for the example." –  ראובן Feb 10 '11 at 22:16
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From The Elements of Typographic Style, “the Oxford house style […] is: use a period only when the word stops prematurely.” I.e. Mr, Ms, Mrs, Jr, but Prof. and Capt. –  JS Ng Aug 10 '11 at 11:45
    
Seems to me that would imply that the "words" should really be "M'r", "J'r", "M's", etc. Not sure what to do about "Mrs", considering that "Missus" has no "r" in it. Maybe pretend that "Mistress" is pronounced "Missus" and call it "M'r's"? –  wfaulk Aug 10 '11 at 13:38
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@wfaulk: if Magister can be pronounced Mister when abbreviated to 'Mr', I see no reason why Mistress can't be pronounced Missus when written 'Mrs'. –  TimLymington Apr 6 '12 at 16:44
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If you're going there, @TimLymington, ought that to be magistrissa? –  MετάEd Apr 6 '12 at 17:05

Americans tend to place a period after Mr, Mrs, etc. The British and related speakers often don't.

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7  
"related writers" surely? :) –  Benjol Feb 8 '11 at 6:35
    
I thought Americans and Brits were cousins? –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '12 at 21:43

These are still abbreviations so technically should retain their full stops.

If you use full stops after abbreviations such as ie. and eg. then writing Mr. instead of Mr would increase your consistency.

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8  
I thought the correct form was i.e. and e.g. –  CesarGon Feb 8 '11 at 8:26
    
There seem to be a number of possible variants:en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Variations_of_%22eg%22 –  Tom Ravenscroft Feb 8 '11 at 8:31
    
էգ is one even I haven't had the courage to try. –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '12 at 21:47
    
@TomRavenscroft - if an exception to your rule can be made and accepted for different variants of i.e. -> ie. -> ie and e.g. -> eg. -> eg, then why not also for different variants of Mr. -> Mr and Jr. -> Jr, etc... ? ("eg" is listed without a period as an accepted variant on the page you provided). –  Kevin Fegan Jul 21 '13 at 7:59

I think it depends on the style guide. American Medical Association style is to omit periods in all abbreviations except middle initials, so: eg, ie, vs, Dr, Mr, etc. This is probably just the magazine's house style.

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A belated thank you, Katryn, for a style guide that endorses my preferred usages. Just what the Dr ordered. –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 27 '12 at 21:45

I was taught in school (British, Primary) that a Full Stop or Period was used at the end of Abbreviations i.e. it stood for the rest of the letters. So - Rev. for Rev*erend*, Capt. for Capt*ain*, Col., Prof. etc

But Mr, Dr, and the anomalous Mrs are contractions. A Full Stop after them conveys no added meaning. Logically, I suppose, Mr should be writtern M.r and Dr D.r, but that would be too confusing and, in any case, the meaning is clear without any Full Stop following.

That is not true of at least some abbreviations e.g. 'Rev the engine, Rev.' [your getaway driver is a clergyman!]; 'Col' means the lowest point between two mountain peaks; 'capt' is a poetic variant of 'capped' and appears on Shakespeare's memorial in Westminster Abbey; 'The Cloud capt Tow'rs,[http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/william-shakespeare ]

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The two most widely followed style guides in mainstream U.S. publishing are The Chicago Manual of Style and The Associated Press Stylebook. They agree in endorsing the use of a period after Mr or Mrs:

AP Stylebook (2002): "Mr., Mrs. The plural of Mr. is Messrs.; the plural of Mrs. is Mmes. These abbreviated spellings apply in all uses, including direct quotations."

Chicago (15th edition, 2003): "15.16 Social titles. Always abbreviated, whether preceding the full name or the surname only, are such social titles as the following: Ms. Mrs. Messrs. Mr. Dr."

Publishers that follow either of these guides require a period after such honorific abbreviations, unless their house style guide overrules the standard guide on this point.

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