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?

  • 12
    It's the Economicalist. They're saving ink. ;-)
    – user597
    Feb 8, 2011 at 15:14
  • 12
    Which is surprising, considering they're a periodical. Oct 27, 2012 at 21:35

9 Answers 9


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.)

  • 2
    I have read John Grisham novels, published in the U.S. and the UK, and have seen the same pattern.
    – rajah9
    Feb 8, 2011 at 21:25
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    @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? Oct 27, 2012 at 21:38
  • ... And exactly where across the Atlantic (assuming crossings re-start) does one have to use the correction fluid? Mar 14, 2020 at 15:47

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.

  • Do you have a reference for the claim that it's about age? I understand it to be a question of following Fowler ref Feb 8, 2011 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, 2011 at 12:59
  • @Orbling: Perhaps, in the UK, e.g. has enough history now to allow the dropping of one of the full stops? Oct 27, 2012 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, 2012 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..]

  • 1
    Ah yes, "exempli gratia." When I taught in a community college, I told the kids it meant "thanks for the example."
    – ראובן
    Feb 10, 2011 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, 2011 at 11:45
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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'. Apr 6, 2012 at 16:44
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    If you're going there, @TimLymington, ought that to be magistrissa?
    – MetaEd
    Apr 6, 2012 at 17:05
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    @wfaulk - "...should really be "M'r", "J'r", "M's", etc...". These (Mr, Jr, ...) are a particular form of abbreviation, but not a "contraction", so the use of (') apostrophe would not be proper here. The apostrophe is used to form a "contraction", which is the abbreviated combination of two words, like isn't for is not, and it's for it is. There is another distinction... when you read a contraction like isn't, it is read as it is written. It is an abbreviation when read or written. Mr, Jr, ... (with or without the period) is abbreviated when written... but read as the full word. Jul 21, 2013 at 7:45

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. From 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.

And from Chicago (fifteenth 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 social-title abbreviations, unless their house style guide overrules the standard guide on this point.

As a counterpoint, MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, second edition (1998) opposes using formal titles at all:

3.6.2 Titles of Persons In general, do not use formal titles (Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms., Dr., Professor, Reverend) in first or subsequent references to men or women, living or dead (Churchill, not Mr. Churchill; Mead, not Professor Mead; Hess, not Dame Hess; Montagu, not Lady Montagu). [Exceptions for certain "women in history," such as Mrs. Humphrey Ward and Mme de Staël, and for certain titled nobles, such as Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, omitted.]

The tendency in British style appears to be against end punctuation of social titles. The Oxford Style Manual (2003) doesn't discuss the matter directly, but it consistently gives examples of Mr, Mrs, Dr, and the like without periods. For example:

Titles used as identification or clarification after a name normally are not capitalized, especially in US usage):

[Relevant examples:] Mr Gladstone, the prime minister; Dr Primrose, the parish vicar

And in the "Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors" section of The Oxford Style Manual, the entries are similarly consistent:

Dr doctor (before name)

Mr Mister. pl. Messrs

Mrs Missis, Missus (corruptions of Mistress)

Ms the title of a woman whether or not married (no point)

Oxford doesn't apply its "no point" rule across the board, however. The style manual takes the opposite approach in its treatment of military abbreviations—Cpl., Sgt., Lt., Capt., Maj., and Gen., for example—and of Jr. after proper names.

  • 1
    Interesting that Oxford uses Cpl., Sgt., Lt. — these violate the general rule that a period is used only when the last letter of the abbreviation is not the same as the last letter of the word.
    – herisson
    May 3, 2016 at 17:20
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    @sumelic: Oxford also specifies Mgr. for Manager (and Mgrs. for the plural), but Mgr for Monseigneur or Monsignor. Sometimes I think they just make this stuff up as they go.
    – Sven Yargs
    May 3, 2016 at 17:28

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 ]

  • 2
    "Logically" it would be M'r., D'r.; the apostrophe stands in for the omitted letters.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 2, 2014 at 4:48
  • 1
    Isn't apostrophe only used when the dropped letters are not pronounced?
    – codeshot
    Dec 27, 2016 at 2:25
  • 1
    This is a limitation of the typewriter, in traditional written English a contraction would have the r as a superscript. Nov 21, 2017 at 18:02
  • Wouldn't Col. be short for Colonel and Capt. be short for Captain?
    – sas08
    Apr 12, 2019 at 5:39

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

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    "related writers" surely? :)
    – Benjol
    Feb 8, 2011 at 6:35
  • 1
    I thought Americans and Brits were cousins? Oct 27, 2012 at 21:43
  • @Edwin: One wonders when this difference first appeared.
    – Doubt
    Jun 13, 2018 at 16:50

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.

  • A belated thank you, Katryn, for a style guide that endorses my preferred usages. Just what the Dr ordered. Oct 27, 2012 at 21:45

I follow the following convention:

Male: Mr.

Female: Mrs., Miss, and Ms

"No need to put a period after Ms (as in, Ms Prescott) since it's not an abbreviation." -Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities, Guggenheim Fellow, and founder of the Logic and Rhetoric writing course at Columbia University, Professor Edward Tayler (Self-Help, page 8).

I take his advice on style above anybody in Chicago. I am indifferent about the American way of doing things otherwise. I should like to actually use the period after Miss, for indicating the presence of more letters, as described by Fowler, but it seems unpatriotic.


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.

  • 13
    I thought the correct form was i.e. and e.g.
    – CesarGon
    Feb 8, 2011 at 8:26
  • There seem to be a number of possible variants:en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Variations_of_%22eg%22 Feb 8, 2011 at 8:31
  • էգ is one even I haven't had the courage to try. Oct 27, 2012 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). Jul 21, 2013 at 7:59

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