In BrE style, can the full stops be omitted in:

C. J. Harris (Charles James Harris)

Can it be written like this?

C J Harris

And if we abbreviated just the middle initial, is the following acceptable?

Charles J Harris

  • 2
    As I understand it, the full stops/periods indicate that the letters are abbreviations for the full name. For example, U.F.O is unidentified flying object. The fact is, however, that some (or many) prefer to write it as UFO because it is quicker to type, it looks neater, or people have stopped saying its full term and simply spell out the initials. It's my suspect that if one omits the full stops the letters CJ could be construed as being the person's first name; i.e. Cee Jay. – Mari-Lou A Feb 27 '14 at 2:04

The general rule of thumb is to abbreviate names as if they were ordinary words. The most common pattern in AmE is to shorten the name to its first letter and add a period:

C. J. Harris

Notable specifics:

  • You traditionally should not omit the space between C. and J. even though non-name abbreviations tend to do so (e.g. U.S. instead of U. S.)
  • If the person is, for one reason or another, traditionally spelled without the periods it is acceptable to do so (e.g. C.C.H. Pounder's name is often written as CCH Pounder)
  • Similarly, if the person's name is often written with special capitalization, it is acceptable to do so (e.g. E.E. Cummings is often written as e e cummings)
  • If the surname is of the form similar to "McDonald" it is sometimes acceptable to use McD. instead of M. (see the answers to How would you abbreviate surnames starting with Mc/O/D?)
  • If you need to distinguish between two people with similar abbreviations you can include the next most significant letter. This is rather common on sports jerseys.

I know of no reason that BrE usage would differ from AmE usage but I encourage anyone who knows the BrE specifics to post them in a relevant answer.

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In British English, it is incorrect to place a full stop after an abbreviation where the last letter of the abbreviation is the same as the word.

So: Mr not Mr. as Mister ends in "r" But Wed. for Wednesday

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  • 5
    That doesn’t answer the question at all. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 19 '15 at 23:35
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    British English as in the Economist Style Guide; the Oxford Guide to Style [formerly known as Hart's Rules]; The Guardian style guide; Copy-Editing:The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Authors and Publishers; The Times Style and Usage Guide; The Telegraph Style Guide; or The Modern Humanities Research Association Style Guide? Or have you written your own? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 20 '15 at 8:27
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I think it attempts to answer the question by giving general rules for full stops after abbreviations, so hoping to apply them to middle initials. – Matt E. Эллен Feb 20 '15 at 10:07

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