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My name is Venkatesh MG. M stands for the name of my birth place, which begins with M, and G is an initial derived from my father's name.

Since school, I have been using only these two variations of my names:

  1. Venkatesh MG (Almost all the time)
  2. Venkatesh M G (rarely)

But recently, I've been told that the general style rule is to use periods between the initials: Venkatesh M.G.

I am about to publish a children's book. I'd like to use my name without the periods, as I want it that way. I also like the style where there is no periods between the initials.

Is it okay if I continue using Venkatesh MG as my name?

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    Whichever way you do it, it's going to look odd to nearly all non-Indian readers. It's traditional in English to abbreviate middle names and sometimes first names; but spelling out the first name and abbreviating the last name is a very uncommon combination. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 8 '15 at 12:20
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    If you're going to publish a book the publisher will likely have a style maven who will advise on such things. But common usage, except perhaps in formal wedding invitations and the like, is to refrain from using the periods and often the spaces. – Hot Licks Apr 8 '15 at 12:27
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    Most likely, it will be a branding maven. If it's for the western English speaking world, you might want to reverse: MG Venkatesh. No one will be the wiser. – TRomano Apr 8 '15 at 13:23
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    @HotLicks, I am self publishing :) @TimRomano, I showed the combinations to my friends at my University. MG Venkatesh looks odd to my Indian/German/Canadian friends. Most of them say that omitting periods is not a problem at all. – Venkatesh MG Apr 8 '15 at 15:15
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    MG Venkatesh may look a bit odd to some, but it’s a relatively common way of styling your name as a writer: think of e.e. cummings, k.d. lang, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowling, etc. On the other hand, Venkatesh MG looks very strange, and if I saw that, I would guess that MG was some kind of title, like MD or MA. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 8 '15 at 17:55
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It's your name. You can express it however you like.

On the periods (or full stops) between initials, though: it seems that they're still common in the US, but have largely been dropped in most of the rest of the English-speaking world.

It also depends on house styles: some US papers, for example, still refer to the B.B.C., which just looks weird to UK eyes.

Oddly, though, I almost never see "U.S.A."

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    Well, Thank you so much on clarifying :) I am going to ignore periods completely. Upon some research, I did find that it is not at all an issue. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._C._H._Pounder – Venkatesh MG Apr 8 '15 at 11:52
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    +1 for doing what you want. If Prince can change his name to a symbol, no one needs to be concerned about periods in initials. – Darrick Herwehe Apr 8 '15 at 14:41
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    However, the periods for the names of people are still quite common and normal. Up-vote for your first sentence though, as that's the important information for the OP to take away. – Cord Apr 8 '15 at 16:08
  • Just as the British use "BBC" rather than "B.B.C.", Americans use "CNN" (Cable News Network), "IBM" (International Business Machines), and as noted, "USA". The conventions for named companies are different than for personal names. – Jander Apr 8 '15 at 22:36
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    Not sure what you mean there, @Mazura, but that form is quite common among people from India. And you can't really say that the way someone's name is written "isn't fine", just because it's unfamiliar to you. – Martin McCallion Apr 8 '15 at 22:45
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I think that at least in the US, 'Venkatesh MG' (or '...M.G.') will sound like some rapper type name, like 'LL Cool J' or 'Notorious B.I.G.'. Virtually no one in the US will get that M stands for your birthplace; that just isn't part of naming here. As far as periods, I'd leave them out, but it's not a big deal.

On the other hand, as others have pointed out, it's your name, do what you want.

  • Thank you :) Well, not to offend anyone, but I really asked the question considering the view on all English speaking/reading countries. Not just USA and UK. – Venkatesh MG Apr 8 '15 at 17:37
  • @VenkateshMG He's right though. If you ever go into rapping -- which, given that you're writing nooks for kids, I doubt -- you won't even need a stage name, at least I'm the US. – Nic Hartley Apr 9 '15 at 3:52
  • Maybe change it Venkatash MC - ready for the rap career – user184130 May 24 '18 at 17:10
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Even Louis C.K. uses dots (inconsistently, though - both forms are in text sections of his website and on different album covers), and his stage name's "initials" are a phonetic version of his surname, Székely, rather than an abbreviation of anything that starts with either letter.

Harry S. Truman also is spelled with a dot, and the "S" doesn't stand for anything either - his middle name is literally just "S".

These indicate that there is a strong preference, at least in American English, for using dots for anything that looks like an initial in a personal name, regardless of the convention for other abbreviations like USA or BBC.

But it's your name, you should do what you want with it. There are people who have spelled their name in lowercase, added digits, etc, especially in writing and show business, even without being able to point to a cultural tradition of it being common. This really shouldn't be regarded as a hard-and-fast rule. If your publisher insists on it and can't provide a better reason than "general style rule", you may want to look for a different publisher.

  • The first American name that struck me was CCH Pounder: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._C._H._Pounder. Isn't she using a 'no period' version? How is her name perceived in the American media. And I am now confused. Is this a 'style rule' or a 'grammatical rule'. Or is it just a mere option? – Venkatesh MG Apr 8 '15 at 18:42
  • Well, the fact that her name is written with dots in the title of the article is informative. But, once again - especially in writing and show business - you don't need to feel bound by "rules" for your name. – Random832 Apr 8 '15 at 18:44
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Having a first name written out in full followed by initials is not a usual pattern in the USA, with or without periods; indeed, it is probably a more unusual pattern than having a name which contains internal capitalization, an unpronounceable combination of consonants, or both. As such, I would expect that if you write your name as "Venkatesh M.G.", then "Venkatesh" will probably be interpreted as your surname; if you write your name as "Venkatesh MG", the MG may be interpreted as a name perhaps pronounced as "umg" or "mug". If you wish to emphasize that MG is to be regarded as a unit, but the letters should be pronounced separately, I would suggest perhaps using a hyphen; "Venkatesh M-G". The hyphen wouldn't exactly be standard, but someone seeing it would probably assume that the M and G represent the names your parents had before they were married (perhaps your parents weren't named M and G, but they may have had names which, when joined as a phrase, would have undesirable connotations). Even though that wouldn't quite describe your situation, it's probably closer than anything that could be achieved with any other form of punctuation.

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