When writing the initials of a surname such as "St. John" (I will use the first name of Tom for an example), would those initials be written as 'TSJ' or 'TS' or 'TJ' or are all of these equally common?

Another question: Is the full form of the surname always "Saint John", or has the "St." become some sort of prefix?

  • see updated answer. Nov 23, 2019 at 10:09
  • n.b.: I would comment rather than answer but am not allowed by the user interface. One example of the pronunciation is in the film A View to a Kill. link to short clip Nov 23, 2019 at 13:12
  • Nowadays in the US I would probably say "TS". Similarly, Alfred Mac Donald would be "AM". Suasn TerWilliger would be "ST". Emily Van Der Beek would be "EV". But if it is Emily van der Beek, I don't know, maybe "EB".
    – GEdgar
    Nov 23, 2019 at 14:22
  • YSL = Yves St. Laurent? But is that French? What about Susan Saint James?
    – Mitch
    Nov 25, 2019 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


Traditionally they would be written 'T. St J.', but modern practice in the British English zone is to not use periods, thus 'T St J', or possibly (less formally) 'TStJ'.

Author:Frederick Edward Molyneux St. John

This author wrote articles for the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. Articles attributed to this author are designated in EB1911 by the initials "M. St J."

Example (1)

Regarding formal style, a note to a scientific paper corrects capitalisation ('ST') and the omission of spaces:

@article{6da73ab7d99e423c9ee8fa0a2f9c9843, title = "Preparation of core-shell polymer colloid particles by encapsulation", author = "RH Ottewill and AB Schofield and JA Waters and NSTJ Williams", note = "Other: 4th author - initials should read N St J (lower case t) Williams"

Example (2)

Further, the surname, if written in full, is St John or St. John and (this is definitely worth knowing) in the UK, it is often pronounced 'Sinjun' or 'Sinjin'. St John (name)

  • Thanks! The Sinjun fact is especially interesting.
    – Curtwige
    Nov 23, 2019 at 10:43
  • 1
    Ian St John, the famous Liverpool striker, never had the pronunciation you say is universal in the UK. Wikipedia is more accurate: 'St John or St. John is a given name and surname. It can be pronounced /ˈsɪndʒɪn/ or /-ʒən/ in the United Kingdom, particularly if it is the first part of a hyphenated family name or a given name.' Note the 'can'. Nov 23, 2019 at 15:24
  • 2
    Sorry, I don't follow football. Nov 23, 2019 at 15:38

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