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To clarify, my question relates to British English.

Is it considered grammatically correct to use initials with and without the full stop after each capitalised letter?

Example: Which is correct for Jack Russell: J.R. or JR?

I am compiling an agenda, which includes the meeting attendees (each referenced by their initials). Each of the items of the agenda is then assigned to a person, with only their initials being listed.

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    Welcome to the site. Can you please edit your question to explain in more detail what you are asking about, and add some examples? – Max Williams Aug 25 '16 at 8:26
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    Veronica, punctuation is frequently a matter of style. You've added the british-english tag so it looks like you're after a British style: if this is so, I recommend you add this requirement to the text of the question, to avoid our many U.S. readers offering you advice on how an American would initialise names. – Chappo Says Reinstate Monica Aug 25 '16 at 8:36
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    This isn't a rule of English grammar - it is totally a matter of preference. Do whatever you want, it's your meeting. Personally I'd omit the full stops, ie just say "JR" or "MW". – Max Williams Aug 25 '16 at 10:09
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As indicated in the comments, it's not a question of grammar (even though it is a question about punctuation), it's a question of style.

In your example, Jack Russell is represented by a symbol: J.R. or JR (either with or without a space), or even a picture of a terrier. In that case, it really doesn't matter what the symbol is.

There is more of a question about whether full-stops should be used in names or for other abbreviations:

  • Mr. J. R. Ewing
  • Mr J R Ewing
  • John R. Ewing III
  • John R Ewing III
  • viz.,
  • i.e.

Current British practice is to omit many of these full stops. It's fussy and they aren't really necessary to show that the word is an abbreviation: it's unlikely that Mr Ewing's middle initial is just "R". I generally use my middle initial, and never use a full stop. Even a less obvious abbreviation like viz is (it appears, subjectively) losing its customary full-stop.

I suspect the reason for this is that additional stops

  • need interpreting to see if they are the end of a sentence
  • take an additional keystroke, or time to write

and both of those are reasons in this hectic age to omit dots.

But this is still a matter of style: to use a full-stop may be prescriptively required, but it does nothing to enhance the descriptive function of an initial or other abbreviation.

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    And then there’s the matter of spaces—is it “Mr(.) J. R. Ewing” or “Mr(.) J.R. Ewing”? (Personally, I’d write “Mr J.R. Ewing”, but this too is purely a matter of style and subjective preference.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 25 '16 at 11:17
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    References, Andrew? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '18 at 12:17
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Yes. I too would always write J.R.Peabody. But if it was simply an abbreviation to reference the person (e.g. in an agenda) as the OP seems to require, I would simply write JRP. – WS2 Feb 9 '18 at 12:28
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As @Max Williams said this is not really a question of grammar. The British convention used to be to use full stops but the American convention of not using them has been adopted widely in the last few decades. If your organisation is fairly large there is probably a corporate style guide which you should follow. If not have a look at some previous agendas and use the same style; if still in doubt ask your line manager if s(he) has a preference; if you're the boss use whichever convention you prefer. One consideration might be if some people's initials make words. For example Fiona Imogen Thomas and Frederick Arthur Tinker could both be attending in which case the full stops might save some embarrassment.

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    It's hard to imagine anyone really caring. Imagine if you went into a meeting and you were given a printout in which people's names were represented by initials with full stops, and you personally would have omitted the full stops. I doubt you'd care and you'd probably not even notice. – Max Williams Aug 25 '16 at 11:00
  • @MaxWilliams You wouldn't, Max and neither would I, but we've got better things to worry about. Unfortunately I've had the dubious pleasure of working with people for whom it would be a big issue. – BoldBen Sep 8 '16 at 21:34
  • I'm glad that you no longer work with them, assuming that is the case. – Max Williams Sep 12 '16 at 8:46
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    My opinion is that full stops have been dropped more quickly in the UK (It's usually J. R. Ewing except in the British papers). Have you a reference supporting the opposite stance? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 9 '18 at 12:20
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    You've had 19 hours to either add support or correct. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 11 '18 at 15:56
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British English has changed since the digital age. It used to be widespread to put a stop for most abbreviations with Mr and Mrs often without and other titles in full or with a stop. A stop meaning further letters omitted, unless using the last letter in your abbreviation. Punctuation has slowly been lost. Oxford and Cambridge along with the new army guide forbid using any stop except a full stop. Places like the University of Sussex still encourage the formal use of initials with stops. Government offices and businesses encourage using a full first name and last name, ignoring formalities and full names. Initials without a stop were only used when someone wished to be known by initials, or in their signature preference or for a silver monogram, otherwise always use them.

  • Please could you add some references to back up your claims? – marcellothearcane Sep 1 at 18:00

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