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I learned that when abbreviating a word, such as "tomorrow" as "tom.," we should place a period right after it. But what about when it's a name? For example, which sentence would be correct? (The abbreviated name is "Gavin.")

With the period:

"Gav., what are you doing this Saturday?"

Without the period:

"Gav, what are you doing this Saturday?"

Do abbreviate names need a period after them?

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    An interesting thought! Certainly the consensus is not to use a period for shortened names, but I don't have a definitive reason why. Perhaps "Gav" is treated as a nickname rather than an abbreviation, and I can't see a period being added to "Tommy" for example. – AndyT Dec 21 '16 at 10:48
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    The short answer is "nobody ever does that, so you shouldn't either". I'll leave more formal justifications to others. – Dan Bron Dec 21 '16 at 10:54
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    I don't think that a shortened form of a name counts as an abbreviation. – J.R. Dec 21 '16 at 11:11
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    '... we should place a period right after it' is not a binding rule, as has been discussed here before. It may be the more favoured style, and is an option I choose when disambiguation is necessary, but is probably losing favour. And certainly diminutives (such as Gav) would rarely if ever have a period tacked on. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 21 '16 at 11:21
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    It is possible that there are circumstances you might, or at least where that used to be the convention. I'm thinking of forms and registers where space is limited and standard abbreviations are used, such as 'Arch' plus a superscript 'd' for Archibald or 'Geo' for Geoffrey. Such as in this example from the National Records of Scotland. nrscotland.gov.uk/files//images/… But that use is quite different from someone being called 'Gav' in that they would not be expected to be pronounced as written. – Spagirl Dec 21 '16 at 11:58
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Abbreviated names often do have periods in them, as in "Jos. A. Bank." This case is different from the one in the OP's example, which as some commenters have observed is probably a nickname rather than an abbreviation.

The Wiktionary list of Abbreviations for English Names claims that a period is left off if the abbreviation ends with the last letter of the name (as in "Thos" for Thomas). But surely this nuance depends on what style guide you are using.

  • I've always understood that omission of the period if the last letter of the original word is present in the abbreviation applies to all abbreviations - not merely to names (except that the period should still be included if the abbreviated form were ambiguous, e.g. if the abbreviation could be a word in its own right). – TrevorD Jan 24 '17 at 23:49

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